5 Great Honeymoon Destinations in West Africa
Saly and La Somone, Senegal
The resort areas of Saly and La Somone in Senegal are an ideal destination for couples. Located on the ‘Petite Côte’ and about 50 miles south of the nation’s capital, Dakar, Saly and La Somone provide the perfect hideaway spot, while not being overly secluded or cut off from the vibrant capital. Saly has been a popular destination among French and Belgian tourists for a long time, with its wide variety of exquisite hotels, impeccable beaches lined with swaying palms, calm clear waters, and a range of leisure facilities to thrill and relax.
La Somone is a smaller resort, though no less arresting. Only a short distance from Saly, La Somone is located at a prime spot beside a beautifully serene lagoon which is home to the Réserve de la Somone, a perfect area for bird watching. Also nearby is the Bandia Nature Reserve, a small wildlife park where you can watch giraffes, rhinos, zebras, ostriches, antelopes, impalas and many other birds and animals. Sports enthusiasts can partake of the array of water and other sports available at both resorts: jet skiing, water skiing, kayaking, windsurfing and so on. Couples can take romantic horse rides around the resorts, or play Tarzan and Jane at the Accrobaobab Adventure Park, where you can have fun climbing, swinging and sliding across an arrangement of nets, slides and ropes among the baobab trees.
Senegal has several bars and restaurants offering mouth-watering local and international cuisine. Experience fine dining and romantic evenings at the best venues, with beautiful surroundings where couples can enjoy each others’ company.
São Tomé and Principe
Go off the beaten track with a honeymoon at São Tomé and Príncipe. This delightful country, which happens to be Africa’s second smallest, with its ‘leve-leve’ or ‘take it easy’ philosophy, invites lovebirds to let go and immerse themselves in the ease of the islands. Palm-fringed beaches, pristine waters, largely unexplored jungles, awe-inspiring montane landscapes, these and more you will find in São Tomé and Príncipe.
In spite, or perhaps because, of its small number of visitors, São Tomé and Príncipe remains a tourists’ gem, becoming something of a well-kept secret among discerning travellers. On these stunning islands, couples can experience some of the most exquisite coffee in the world, explore the country’s quaint, crumbling colonial-era architecture, dive, snorkel and explore the undisturbed waters surrounding the islands, trek the beautiful terrain and discover the local haunts and villages. Or simply relax and spoil yourselves at one of the country’s spa locations, go shopping and explore the urban centres, and have romantic meals at the many restaurants serving local and international cuisine. Notwithstanding its small size and population, São Tomé and Príncipe offers top-notch lodging options for visitors, popular among which are the Bom Bom Island Resort, the Pestana Equador on the small island of Ilehu das Rolas, and the Pestana on São Tomé Island.
With year-round sunshine and pleasant ‘honeymoon’ weather, fantastic beaches and myriad activities to engage in, Cape Verde is one of Africa’s finest honeymoon destinations. Cape Verde caters to lovebirds with all kinds of interests. Couples seeking total leisure and relaxation will find the beaches on Sal and Boa Vista impossible to resist, with beachfront hotels that assure comfort and tranquillity. A good number of spa hotels are available throughout Cape Verde for couples looking to pamper themselves. The Iberostar Hotel on Boa Vista is a popular choice, offering an incredible spa experience as well as a delightful ocean view with miles of unspoilt coastline.
Couples hungry for a bit of adventure will have a lot to choose from: water sports, including diving and snorkelling, hiking through the stunning landscapes at Fogo and Santiago, bird watching, fishing and observing aquatic life.
Photo: Sheraton Gambia Hotel
There’s a reason The Gambia is called ‘The Smiling Coast’. One of Africa’s smallest countries, The Gambia is a place of secluded golden beaches, shocking blue skies, a year-long summer and exotic cultures.
The Gambia offers several beachside locations and resorts ideal for honeymooners, such as the Cape Point area, popular for its serenity and one of the best beaches in the country. For a livelier experience, try the more vibrant Kokoli resort area, which has several restaurants and hotels – with a wide variety of intercontinental foods – two casinos, a crafts market and shops offering great bargains. The Gambia’s various lodging options provide suitable choices for a range of budgets, from the luxurious Coco Ocean resort and Spa to the more intimate Ngala Lodge Hotel.
Nature-loving couples will feel right at home in The Gambia, with its Kachikally Crocodile Pool in Bakau, which is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. The Abuko Nature Reserve is another must-see, with a variety of birds, including pied kingfishers, willow warblers, and exotic flowers and vegetation. There’s also the Chimp Rehabilitation Project, where couples can observe these fascinating creatures in their natural environment.
Bissagos Archipelago, Guinea Bissau
The islands of the Bissagos (also spelt Bijagós) are a largely undiscovered treasure trove ideal for newlyweds who crave seclusion and privacy. Leave the bustle of urban life behind and embrace the leisurely pace of Bissagos, with its year-round warm weather and serene surroundings. Perfect for wildlife enthusiasts, the islands offer sightings of a range of mammals, reptiles and birds, including protected or rare species like the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus, African manatee and the common bottlenose dolphin. Bissagos is also a great fishing destination, and couples can bond on the tranquil waters while they fish, or take diving and snorkeling adventures and experience the range of aquatic life in the surrounding waters.
Of the 88 islands that make up the Bissagos Archipelago, only 20 are inhabited year-round, leaving plenty of room for adventurous couples to discover and explore the stunning terrain and clear waters. Seeing as international tourism has yet to become established in the archipelago, there are fewer hotels than one would find in a less secluded area. However, couples do have the option of renting highly affordable beach-side cabins, leaving them free of intrusion. Visitors will find the equally affordable oceanfront restaurants, which serve local and international cuisines, a complete delight.
At Bissagos, couples can enjoy the best of both worlds with planned trips to the mainland of Guinea Bissau, where they can visit the capital city of Bissau to shop at the Bissau Main Market, visit local attractions like the Presidential Palace, the old Portuguese colonial centre of Bissau Velho, and experience a taste of the city’s vibrant night life.