(Last updated on: 02/04/2020)
One of my first major holidays was a Gambia beach holiday and I’ve since returned several times since because I loved it so much! An affordable, winter sun destination with lots of culture is always a win for me! In this post, I will tell you why I recommend a Gambia beach holiday and which are the best beaches in The Gambia.
Why go to The Gambia for a beach holiday?
Located in West Africa, The Gambia is a small country with an incredibly diverse ecosystem and so much to offer visitors.
It is a beach lover’s paradise, with soft white sand under clear blue skies, and palm trees providing relief from the glorious heat. The beaches are quiet and clean and the winter months bring almost guaranteed sunshine. The sea is safe to swim in most hotels are right on the beach.
Traditionally known for its package holiday tourism, most tourists who visited The Gambia pre- 2019 booked through one of the major British tour operators: Thomas Cook or Monarch. Since these organisations are no longer around, however, tourists need to organise their trip by themselves using a dynamic packaging approach. Don’t worry, it’s easy to do yourself and there are loads of great websites to help you find the best deals, you can see my recommendations here- The best websites to book your trip with.
Where should I go for my Gambia beach holiday?
There are several places that can base yourself for your Gambia beach holiday. The country is small too, so you can easily travel between beaches if you want to try more than one out for size. Here is a run down of the best places to choose if you’re looking for a Gambia beach holiday.
If you’re looking for somewhere to relax that’s just slightly off the beaten track, this is the one. Around 45 minutes by foot from the popular tourist resort of Kololi – just head south and keep walking. The further south you go, the quieter and more secluded the beach gets. There are a couple of bars, restaurants and hotels as well as local fruit sellers but for the most part the area is unspoilt and peaceful. You may also be able to spot the local vervet monkeys, sneaking about in the hopes of picking up unwanted food from the bars. They come from the nearby Bijilo National Park.
You can sunbathe in relative peace and quiet on this Gambia beach as opposed to the busier areas along the strip, and swimming is generally allowed too. Just keep an eye on the lifeguard’s flags! These will alert you to the current water condition and whether or not it is safe to swim that day.
As mentioned, Bijilo Beach has a few restaurants and bars dotted around. The most popular is La Pirogue, with its good food, wide selection of drinks and a swimming pool. Coco Ocean Resort and Spa is much bigger and offers luxury accommodation, various types of cuisine and a spa.
Also known as Paradise Beach, this Gambia beach is popular with day trippers. It is busiest on a Saturday afternoon, full of tourists and local families. Towards the late afternoon you’ll be able to see traditional West African wrestling, which is something a bit different from your average beach experience.
Sanyang Beach has deckchairs, palm trees and soft white sand – but it also has hammocks! It is the beach that has attracted tourists for the longest, much earlier than the surrounding beaches, and it managed to escape the coastal erosion that other areas have suffered from making it one of Gambia’s nicest beaches. The area is also popular for fishing; it is just past the Sanyang Fishing Village, and there is a fish market as well as the opportunity to go fishing in the ocean with local guides.
There are a few bars around this area; the popular Rainbow Lodge serves seafood, sandwiches and a wide range of drinks while Paradise Beach Bar offers great food and a lovely view from their upstairs area.
Probably the most popular and busy Gambia beach, this one is near the main tourist area. It often looks busier than it is due to coastal erosion making the area quite narrow, but it is still a lovely beach to visit and have fun at. There are plenty of bars, restaurants and shops in the immediate vicinity, and there are two main hotels that access the beach: Senegambia and Kairaba. Both have lovely gardens and pools if you want a break from sand and salt water!
You will hear the sounds of reggae music from the local bars, and in the evening dance troupes and local singers are there to entertain tourists and residents alike. These bars are cheap and cheerful, offering cuisine such as ladyfish, barracuda and fresh fruit. Quad biking is offered along the beach, as is horseback riding.
A quiet and clean Gambia Beach, this offers a family friendly area for you to relax and have fun. There is sand and grass, palm trees and thatched parasols, cloudless blue skies and plenty of space. Swimming is prohibited here due to the unpredictable nature of the currents, but there is so much else to do at Cape Point beach. You can sunbathe, play volleyball, build sandcastles or have a picnic followed by a nice stroll along the shoreline. You’ll probably see the odd goat wandering around, too!
There is a lot of tourism in the vicinity of this beach. There are a variety of hotels, a craft market, bars and restaurants as well as a high level of security. Calypso Beach Bar & Restaurant is particularly popular here. It has a treehouse for exclusive dining, as well as a natural pool at the front of the restaurant that contains a few crocodiles. Another favourite is the Italian Connection Restaurant which is said to serve the best pizzas in Gambia and even offers takeaway!
Said to be the best Gambia Beach for children and families, Kotu Beach is another quite tourist-heavy area. There are always plenty of sun loungers and umbrellas available, though, and the sunset is lovely here. You can swim here, but the water is fairly sandy and the currents can be strong so again make sure you keep an eye on the lifeguard’s flag at all times!
This beach is the most densely packed in terms of bars and restaurants. You’re bound to find the perfect place for you to sit and relax with some food or drink, as there is so much choice. Tandoor is popular if you’re looking for authentic tasting Indian food, and Mosiah’s bar and restaurant offers fantastic vegan options. For seafood head to Captain’s Table, and opt for Ningki Nangka if you want somewhere with their own sun loungers and free WiFi.
So, there are the best places to head to if you’re looking for a good Gambia beach. Remember it’s a particularly warm area and there is rarely a cloud in the sky during the dry season, which is when people choose to visit, so ensure you have a high SPF with you. The locals are friendly and welcoming, and the beaches are all clean and safe. For a chilled-out beach holiday, Gambia is perfect!