Guide To The Beaches Of Lagos

Lagos is a hot, chaotic city; the traffic, crowds and noise can leave visitors frustrated and tired. So if you feel the need to escape and decompress, try heading to one of the beaches of Lagos. There are several within an hour or so of the city centre. Depending on how much time you have to spare when you’re visiting town and what activities you’re interested in, one — or all — are worth a visit. It is of course worth taking precautions before you go: dress down, travel light, watch your bag and don’t flash money, phones or cameras.

Bar Beach

Bar is the closest beach to the center of Lagos, but it doesn’t amount to much for sun-and-surf aficionados. The recent dredging project to create the vast new Eko-Atlantic development has effectively removed any viable beachfront. There are a few deck chairs and umbrellas set around, but really it’s much better to go elsewhere for lounging. Even the ‘”area boys” charged with collecting the N200 entry fee do so with a fairly lacklustre demeanor. However in the evenings it’s a popular hangout spot for locals, and features numerous bars and clubs.

Tarkwa Bay

tarkwa beach

Hawker at Tarkwa Beach, Nigeria (satanoid / flickr)

Tarkwa Bay sits at the mouth of Lagos lagoon on the Badagry (western) side, and is positioned between two perpendicular breakwaters that create a sheltered area. This makes the surf much calmer than the Atlantic-facing beaches, but the wind direction and tide can also mean the bay sometimes accumulates floating debris. The beach is best accessed by boat from the Fiki jetty directly under the Falomo Bridge: turn off Ozumba Mbadiwe Road under Falomo, pass the small fish market, and Fiki is right in front of you. The boat trip takes 15 minutes and a return trip should cost N1,500. Once at the beach, there is a small entry fee N200, and a deck chair can be rented for N500 for an afternoon. Local hawkers patrol the beach selling handicrafts and cold drinks, but it’s generally a relaxed atmosphere.

Elegushi Beach

Elegushi is in Lekki, east of Victoria Island. To get there, head about 3/4 km down the Lekki-Epe expressway (most taxis will know the location). A ride from Lekki to Elegushi should cost about N2,000; alternatively a local bus can be caught from Lekki for about N50 — just ask to get off on the third roundabout. In addition to the beach itself, Elegushi features the Nike art gallery (the large white building on the right hand side as you approach the beach) which houses the largest collection of art in West Africa, with over 500 paintings, fabrics, and sculptures. It’s well worth a stop, and conveniently located next to the Lekki craft market, also known as Maami Market.

There are 15 or so makeshift bars and restaurants at the beach, along with a small outdoor paintball zone that’s adjacent to the sand. During the day, it is a sleepy place frequented by just a small number of tourists, but on nights and weekends, the bars crank up the music and hundreds flock here to drink, eat suya, and dance into the night. It can get pretty wild, but it’s one of the spots that best encapsulates the nightlife of Lagos.

Eleko Beach

If you’re looking to really get away for the day and kick back and relax, this is definitely the place to go. Eleko is about 50 km down the Lekki-Epe expressway from Elegushi, and close to the new $16 billion Lekki Free Trade Zone. Being far from Lagos means the beach is cleaner and the atmosphere more relaxed than the city beaches. There is a N500 entry fee to get onto the beach, but once inside, the towering palm trees and long line of thatched cabanas make it a worth the time and money. There are a few hawkers around, but if you tell them firmly but politely to go away, they will. Friday nights it is a bit more of a local scene (most expats choose to go to Elegushi beach) with a fun atmosphere of pounding reggae and Naija hits, gyrating bodies, and locals riding horses down the beach.

Badagry Beach 

For those interested in learning the history of Lagos and having a day at the beach, Badagry is the place to go. It is the earliest slave port in the country, and steeped in history. Badagry it is divided into eight principalities, each of which is ruled by a different local chief. A few chiefs maintain slave museums that contain relics, the best of which is Seriki Faremi (on Marina Road) which is set in a former slave barracks (entry N500). It’s also worth getting the

local ferry across Badagry creek (N600), where you can on walk the same path slaves were led down before being shipped to the New World. Halfway down the road you pass the “attenuating well.” Slaves were forced to drink from it before arriving at the “point of no return” in the belief that it would erase their memories and ease their passage to their new life. Then they began their long journey by sea or overland first to Sierra Leone, then on to plantations in the Caribbean and North and South America. It’s a moving, poignant spot, and the walk, ending at an isolated, palm-fringed beach, gives visitors a small insight into the plight of so many who passed this way, never to see home again.

A word of caution: because of vicious traffic. it’s not worth trying to go to Badagry from Lagos during the week; go on the weekend when traffic is lighter. If you have the means, hire a local driver, this may cost N12,000-15,000 for the day. It’s also doable on public transport on the weekend with an early start, but the journey can be quite nerve-wracking. You can start in Vic Island and catch the local bus to Obalende (N50). Obalende is one of the larger bus stops in Ikoyi, from here, a larger red bus can be caught to Oshodi for N100. There are no destinations on the buses, so people shout destinations from the bus door, just ask around and someone will point you in the right direction. Once on the bus, keep your eyes out as you cross the third mainland bridge on the left side for Makoko, the makeshift community built on floating logs in Lagos Lagoon. At Oshodi, you need to get a bus to Mile Two, again around N100. From Mile Two, it’s possible to get a local bus for an additional N150, alternatively, you can take a local taxi here for cheaper than in Lagos.

Suntan Beach

About 10 km from Badagry, along the main road towards Benin, lies Suntan Beach, a wide, wild, palm-strewn beach with a line of concrete cabanas looking out over the surf (N500 entry). As with all spots along this section of the Atlantic, the surf can be a little rough with strong currents, so swim with caution. However, the water is clean, the sand is golden, and the locals are very friendly. There are a number of makeshift suya (BBQ) stands, cold drink vendors, and a large aging bandstand towards one end of the beach. To get there from Badagry it costs around N300 on the back of an okada (motorbike taxi). For a smoother journey, consider using a local driver.

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