Destination spotlight: Ghana’s Western coast
IT’S THE MIDDLE of Ghana’s rainy season. I’m in a shared taxi that’s trying to negotiate a road more suited to an amphibious vehicle. Tank trap potholes have become miniature lakes, and I’m reconsidering the journey to Akwidaa, a fishing village on the southwest coast of Ghana.
But the sun is coming out and highlife music fills the car. The other passengers are in good spirits. They’re on their way to a funeral — also known as a party in Ghana.
I hop out at Green Turtle Lodge, where I’ll be staying for the next few days. Sandy paths lead to a 5km palm-lined beach, and the lodge bar. I’m warmly greeted by Joe and Milly, two members of the staff who are from nearby Akwidaa.
I order my usual in Ghana — two parts gin, one part Alomo Bitters, a dash of lime cordial — and begin chatting with a Peace Corps volunteer who’s come all the way from Niger.
For Peace Corps workers in West Africa, Green Turtle is Mecca. An untouched beach (one of the most swimmable in the region) lies between two fishing villages and backs up to a rainforest preserve.
A ring of beach chalets surround a comfortable open-air bamboo pavilion, where an old fishing boat serves as the bar. The entire place has been built with locally sourced, sustainably harvested materials, solar panels provide electricity, and all of the toilets are composting.
In the afternoon, I hike to Cape Three Points, the southernmost point in Ghana, and home to what is widely considered the best surf break in West Africa. The hike is approximately 7km and covers mostly flat coastal rainforest terrain.
On my way, I stop in Akwidaa and spend a good 40 minutes kicking around a soccer ball with dozens of kids.
Continuing on, I meet one other person, an Ewe fishermen carrying a machete and a bucket filled with coconuts. We greet each other and he exhausts his English with these generous words: “You are welcome to Akwidaa.”
In the evening I’m back at Green Turtle. Over a dinner of fresh barracuda with mango avocado salsa, I learn a bit of Ahanta, the local language, from the staff. Later, I share drinks and conversation with a tomato paste tycoon, a Peace Corps volunteer, and a pair of German travelers.
Before bed, I lie on the beach and enjoy the company of the stars and the sounds of drumming coming from the still-going funeral in Akwidaa.
To get to Akwidaa, and many of the villages along this portion of Ghana’s coast, you must first head to Takoradi, capital of Ghana’s western region and the fourth largest city in the country. Buses and tro-tros regularly travel to Takoradi from Kumasi, Accra, and Cape Coast.
From Takoradi, take a tro-tro to Agona junction (~45 minutes). Then, you can either take a dropping taxi (private, $10-$15USD depending on your bargaining skills) or a tro-tro (a bit over $1USD) in the direction of Akwidaa. If going to Green Turtle, let the driver know — it’s on the same road as Akwidaa.
At Green Turtle, expect to pay $6USD for dormitory-style accommodation, $3.50USD for camping, and $30USD for a self-contained room with beachfront veranda.
Ezile Bay has self-contained rooms for $18USD and camping for $5USD. Busua Inn is slightly more upscale and has rates from $31 to $58 in low season and $53 to $75 in high season.
Packing and Planning
Most important: sunscreen and mosquito repellent. Also a bathing suit. I wore flip flops the entire time, but depending on your hiking aspirations you may want to bring a pair of boots.
Other Activities / Side Trips
In addition to hiking, swimming, and surfing, you can arrange canoe trips at Green Turtle that will take you through the mangroves of the Ezile River ($6/person and all profits go towards an Akwidaa community fund).
From Akwidaa, you can take walking trails towards Dixcove that lead through rubber plantations and bamboo forests.
There’s a rainforest preserve nearby, and from September to March turtles regularly nest on the beach near Akwidaa. During this time you can take guided tours from Green Turtle to see turtles nesting at night ($5/person, and again all profits go towards Akwidaa community fund).
If you like what you see above, check out how to Study Abroad in Ghana.