The Hot List
Read on for our guide to the week's coolest events and most interesting venues. If you manage to tick off all ten, head back to our home page for daily updates on the best restaurants, cultural events, nightlife, and whatever else Accra manages to think up before our next Hot List is published on Monday.
Best places to Have a Break in Ghana
THERE IS NO other city like Accra. It’s a place full of life and excitement. There’s so much sprawl, variety and diversion in the city, just like its hugger-mugger markets. It is this tropical jumble that assaults all five senses. The shattering heat, the pulsing music, the smoking grills, the spic’n’span malls, the crashing surf, the cocktail terraces, the chugging exhausts, the pavement hawkers, and swish hotels, all combine to create a frenetic and thrillingly unpredictable city – and that’s why we love it. Yet, among the discordant urban hum it’s essential to take time to have a break. To take time to reflect, to chat with a neighbour, aimlessly browse a shop, find a quiet spot, share a joke, grab a coffee and read a magazine. These are the bits, the bits in between the daily routine, that make a life. Be sure to take time out. We do, and here are a few of our favourites. 1/ The ocean break There’s a quiet little rocky outcrop overlooking the Gulf of Guinea we like to head to and have a break. It sits behind the Artists Alliance and offers vast vistas. Fishing boats bob along the waves, looking to catch a fish while we catch our breath. The waves crash and we like to sit and muse. There are spots like this all around the Ghanaian coast, and nothing beats looking out to sea for a break. 2/ The friendly kiosk break At the end of Oxford Street is a kiosk that offers chocolate, cold drinks and a big smile. Sabine, as the owner is called, has become a friend over the y
Surfing in Ghana
Over the Christmas Holidays 2013, Busua Beach hosted the Busua Beach Boardriders Surf Championships. Surfing in Ghana is still a young sport, but it's a sport that is growing fast. Busua Beach Boardriders Club is the only surf club in Ghana. It started to help the local surfers of Busua improve their skills of riding the waves, introduce the sport to the younger generation, raise money to buy equipment, and for the surfers to travel to foreign countries to compete. In Busua there are around 16 local surfers ranging from the age of 7 to 24. Some of the surfers have travelled to South Africa, and to Ghana's neighbouring country Cote d'Ivoire to compete in surfing competitions. The Busua Beach Boardriders Club hosts three events per year to decide the overall surfing champions. The final competition was held on the 27th, 28th and 29th of December 2013. This year we had surprise visitors, a Ghanaian surfer from Fete and two young surfers from Togo. The local surfers from Busua were surprised to see these young surfers, as far as they knew they were the only surfers in Ghana. Unfortunately the waves were small but big enough to hold the event. Due to the demand of up and coming youth surfers, during the contest we were able to hold three Categories - Under 16, Junior and Open. 2014 looks to be a big year for surfing in Africa, this September will see a historic surfing event being held in Sierra Leone. The Africa Surf Invitational surf contest will be held at
It came from the sea
As the African sun rises over the Gulf of Guinea, the long wooden fishing boats begin to dot the horizon. Slowly they grow in size, the shapes on board becoming increasingly defined. Two masts at either end of each vessel, with flags flying. A fleet of fishermen returning from a night of toil. On the bridge in Elmina, their families stand in wait. The previous evening they would have counted the boats out; now they count them back in again. And as they dock in the harbour, the cogs of daily commerce shift into motion. Vast quantities of anchovy, langoustine, mackerel, barracuda, shrimp, lobster and yellowfin tuna are noisily traded and sold to be cooked and eaten. The following dawn, it all happens again. This is a story that plays out every single day across Ghana’s 528-kilometre coastline, as well as on Lake Volta. Small fishing canoes, often with an outboard motor, account for 60-70 per cent of Ghana’s daily fishing catches and employ some 150,000 fishermen, with a further half a million people involved in its trade. In short, Ghana’s fishing industry is hugely important… and that’s great news for us, the consumers. The fruit of the sea is abundant and tasty. Most restaurants have a superb fish offering, whether it’s specialty seafood restaurants such as Captain Hook’s, street food stalls, or even pizza restaurants: Mamma Mia’s, for example, offer a fantastic seafood platter. And while upmarket venues may need to import some of their sushi-grade fish, what’s clear is tha
The best of Accra
Accra's top 7 hotels with swimming pools
Deciding on a hotel in Accra? Bear in mind that the city can get hot. Really hot. And while exploring Ghana's capital is incredibly rewarding, sometimes all you'll want to do is laze by a pool in your swimsuit. Take a dip, keep the kids entertained and relax with Time Out's round up of the city's best hotels with pools. And if you're just looking for a place to visit for the day, these pools are available for the use of hotel guests and members of the public alike.
Accra's cultural highlights
National Museum of Ghana
The National Museum is home to some of Ghana’s most absorbing historical finds. The museum, opened by the Duchess of Kent in 1957, gives an opportunity to travel through the country’s history from both an archaeological and ethnographic perspective. Much of the display is dedicated to indigenous art and crafts: there are regalia, musical instruments and the all-important royal Asante stools. Other displays include Asante gold weights, currency, instruments, textiles and leatherwork. Slighty hidden away is the chair used in Kwame Nkrumah’s inauguration and the chair of the last British governor, rescued from Christianborg Castle. An exhibition about the slave trade is essential viewing, outlining the era’s brutal history, and showing poignant relics such as shackles. There’s also a gallery with pieces by Ghanaian artists.
WEB Du Bois Memorial Centre
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was an African-American civil rights activist who became a citizen of Ghana in the 1960s. He was known as the ‘Father of Pan-Africanism’. The centre, where he and his wife once lived, and where they are now buried, houses his personal library, a small museum with a handful of personal effects such as his graduation robes. The couple’s mausoleum is surrounded by Asante stools, a seminar room, a restaurant, a gallery, an amphitheatre and a research centre for Pan-African history and culture.
Independence Square and Independence Arch
With modernist and Soviet- influenced lines, the stands around Independence Square can seat 30,000 people. The vast area, built under Kwame Nkrumah, is designed for huge events and military marches, but it is usually empty except for a few soldiers sheltering from the sun. The only times the square comes alive are at commercial events such as concerts and fashion shows, which take place throughout the year. Even if there’s not much happening it’s worth wandering around just to marvel at the sheer audacity of it all.The Independence Arch, at the centre of the busy roundabout, is also known as Black Star Square, thanks to the motif that dominates the arch. The sculpture is a nod to Ghana’s acclaim as the ‘Black Star of Africa’: it was an inspiration to other African countries vying for independence and the Flame of African Liberation, lit by Nkrumah, still burns strongly nearby. Please note that there are (seemingly unwritten) laws about taking photographs and we strongly suggest that you don’t take photographs of any part ofthe area.
Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park & Mausoleum
A national park erected in memory of Osagyefo (the Messiah) Doctor Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president and one of its founding fathers. Built on a former British polo field, it was the point where Nkrumah declared independence in 1957. The park consists of five acres of land and holds a museum tracing Nkrumah’s life. There are many personal items on display, but the centrepiece is the mausoleum, Nkrumah and his wife’s final resting place. Tours in English can be taken. Kwame Nkrumah is an essential part of Ghana’s history and a good half-hour here will fill you in on most of the details. Events are held on Independence Anniversary celebrations on 6 March and the Celebration of Emancipation Day on 1 August.
Where to take kids in Accra
La Palm Royal Beach
La Palm Royal Beach is one the best pool complexes in Ghana, an ideal way to spend a lazy Sunday. Plus there's La Palm Kids Theme Park, a pleasant and safe enclosed park right by the pool. All pool facilities are open to non-residents; be sure to make use of them!
The best weekend escapes
Aqua Safari Resort
We were rather taken aback by Aqua Safari. It faces out to the estuary of the River Volta, a mile or so upstream from the ocean. From an open-sided restaurant and bar you can see Ghana’s island-dwelling folk crab-fishing and clam-diving in the water. The forward-thinking owners offer guided tours to the islands for boat-building and basket-weaving workshops – there’s also a lot of water to play around in on a jet-ski or one of the pontoons. Game-fishing excursions can be arranged too. Best of all is the option to spend a lazy couple of hours exploring one of the most beautiful areas of Ghana by boat. The whole river environment gives a relaxing and slower pace of life; a stark contrast to Accra two hours away. The rooms are well-appointed, and large chalets all have sizable and impressive common areas and kitchens. There’s also a small pool if you don’t fancy a dip in the river. There’s a new, large conference centre with all the modern amenities you’d need.
The Royal Senchi Resort is a bold undertaking; a largely thatched 84-room complex with facilities for large conferences just west of the town of Akosombo. Its location by the river gives it a wild tropical feel, while being within a 90-minute drive from Accra. The four-star hotel is impressive. The rooms are broken into four blocks. The 74 standard rooms (called River View rooms, for obvious reasons) were sizable, with a private patio area and even a view from the bathtub. Ask for an upstairs room for the airy high ceilings. The nine suites are large too, and the presidential suite has a private plunge pool. Those not willing to splash out quite so much can splash around the lovely pool that also overlooks the river. There’ll be all the usual amenities: spa, shop, business centre, restaurant, lounge bar, and the conference suite with two break out rooms and meeting areas is well equipped. There are canoes and launches for playing on the (crocodile-free) river. There are plans for a nine-hole golf course, a football pitch, basketball and kids' play area among other attractions.
A complete guide to Mole National Park
To find Ghana's best wildlife, it's Mole National Park in the north of the country where you need to head. Here's our guide to the park. Mole (pronounced Mo-lay) National Park is Ghana’s biggest wildlife sanctuary. There are 93 mammal species in the park, including buffalo, warthogs, hippos and several antelope species. For practical purposes, one of the places to stay is Mole Motel (027 756 4444, www.molemotelgh.com), the only hotel inside the park. Situated on the edge of an escarpment and looking out over a waterhole, it’s somewhere where monkey-watching becomes just another part of breakfast, lunch or dinner. In the dry season, it’s not uncommon for elephants to pay sneaky visits to the hotel’s swimming pool. A new luxury residence is about to open called Zaina Lodge (030 393 8736, www.zainalodge.com). This ecolodge is located in Mole National Park. Facilities will include an infinity pool, open bar fire pit and 25 rooms with private balconies and outdoor showers if you choose! The park office next to the motel acts as the meeting point for localised game waland looks over two waterholes (on which elephants tend to be the main draw), or 4x4 tours much deeper into the Mole Park. Despite the hotel and park office, there’s very little in the way of tourist infrastructure. This is seen by many as a positive thing, and one consequence is that it’s become an important place for scientific study, particularly in relation to poaching and sustainability. Two hours from th
Colours of Elmina
Is there a more colourful vision in Ghana than Elmina's fishing port on a clear morning? This masculine little town subjects the visitor to a whirl of sights, sounds and smells like nowhere else on the coast. The clatter and chatter of the fish market is a world unto itself and truly a sight to behold - a swarming rainbow palette of batik dresses and football shirts offset by great tubs of crabs, squid and mahi-mahi, all dominated by the painted hulls of newly returned pirogues, themselves strewn with flags and washing. When you factor in a supporting cast of goats, chickens and wheeling birds of prey, not to mention the oven-door heat blast, it's quite a scene.
Cape Coast Castle
You’ll most likely be aware of Cape Coast Castle already (Barack and Michelle Obama visited in 2009 to much fanfare), as it was here that some of the worst atrocities of the slave trade era were committed. The city was founded by the Portuguese in the 15th century, and the solid white bulk of the castle acted first as a fortified base for overseeing the export of gold and other goods before ‘market forces’ initiated a move into human trafficking. A tour of the site today makes for a harrowing, but undeniably salutary, visit. Thousands upon thousands of West African men and women were imprisoned within the castle’s scratched dungeon walls – in truly horrific conditions – before passing the ‘Door of No Return’ and being shipped off to the Americas, the majority of them not surviving to reach their final destination. To establish a clearer understanding of the crushing reality of the period, the 45-minute guided tour (included in the ticket price) comes highly recommended. There’s also a museum on site. The Castle is now listed as a World Heritage Site, and gazing down today from its old ramparts at the late-afternoon hubbub of fishermen and red-dust footballers, it’s hard not to be stirred by the human cost of its past.