SURFING IN SENEGAL
After many years traveling and surfing all over the world, accompanied by my brother Capi, my cousins, friends and Alejandra, it was time to embark on a new adventure, a new surftrip, but this time alone. I suppose, that many of you, have ever felt the need to escape and travel alone. A feeling that was gaining strength and that only needed a small boost, to mark a destination on the map, to take a small backpack, my boards, and go in search of good waves. Traveling looking for intensity of emotions and above all with the need to return after a few years to Mama Africa, a destination that has me in love and hooked and to which from time to time, I feel the need to return. What better continent to meet myself and escape from the routine routine. For me, Africa is the continent that offers more possibilities to a traveler, because it is an intense trip from the time you land, until you take off and in addition to all the essence and magic that surrounds the continent, its culture and its people … it has very good waves And lots of searching to do.
With great desire and loaded with good vibes , I bought a ticket to Senegal, a country I had been wanting to go for years, and of which I came back impressed and knowing that I will be back soon. Here is a little story of my surftrip, which I hope you like and encourage you to know very soon.
SENEGAL, like many African countries, is surrounded by other “small” countries (Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea and Guinea Bissau), which makes the country itself a greater mix of cultures, religions … making it a strategic place to start a Travel through Africa. It has more than 20 ethnic groups, the Wolof being the most numerous. It has more than 12 million inhabitants, with ¼ of the population living in its capital, Dakar. Muslims represent 95% of Senegal and the remaining 5% are Christians and belonging to other religions. There is and is a lot of tolerance throughout the country. Although, as many African countries were invaded by French settlers and still witnessed much of its influence throughout the country, since it gained independence in 1960, the country has regained its essence and its 100% African culture. Leopold Sédar Senghor was the 1st president of the history of Senegal. The country is poor in resources, its income comes mainly from agriculture, fishing and tourism lately. An amazing country, with very good people, food (albeit always spicy), amazing weather (8 months without rain) and waves … very good waves.
Senegal is located in the most western corner of Africa and with more than 600 km of coast, bathed and battered by the Atlantic Ocean, it is easy to see that it is a magnet for swells, attracting good seas throughout the year, Making it a surfing destination with a lot of potential to see, surf and discover.
The SURFING IN SENEGAL is divided into 3 parts, the central part of Dakar, the south towards Guinea Bissau and the north towards Mauritania. There are very good waves all over the coast, although many of the best waves are in the DAKAR area .
Arriving at 4am at the airport, with the boards and feel all the eyes stuck towards the “white”, is a feeling that I had already experienced and that does not bother me, on the contrary, that adrenaline to know that there are many who would love to liartela, Marks the beginning of many trips and makes you wake up and quickly get on the map … again in Mama Africa, the continent of dreams, where everything can happen, where good and bad live together, where you always learn, value and later Miss
The arrival to a great African capital, as always is chaotic and Dakar is a human boil, of the good and the bad. A place that will not leave you indifferent, noisy, crowded and from which you will fall in love at first sight, or you will want to escape according to landmarks, but one of those places that is worth going into and know. Chaotic, shocking, but at the same time beautiful. You see everything … and also much poverty.
The first day in Dakar is a very good swell and was a great welcome and Dakar is a peninsula, so it is a magnet for the waves, the west side being the most consistent, since in the east of the peninsula usually Few waves.
The good thing about this area is that there are many waves in a very short stretch of coast and beach like Yoff, Virage, Ngor, Les Almedies, Des Mamalles, De Fann, De Terrou Bi, De la Voiledior, are full of life and worth it know.
In what is the city of Dakar there are good waves, good reefs and lots of potential, but you need sea and shit and water pollution, they do not make surfing very attractive.
On the 1st day I surfed very good waves in SECRET , a very funny wave with a left that is a caramelito and when it enters a little more sea right begins to work. To the left of Secret is VIVIER , a right with a good tube, where in the entrance and exit you have to be careful, because the hedgehogs are waiting for you sharp. He also has a good fast and fun left. One of my favorite waves of the trip. Pure tube and there are usually fewer people than on the right.
Dakar is alive 24 hours and for the day do not miss the markets, like the one of Zaza and those of the center. A must to visit the markets Sandaga, Tiléne, Kermel … very handsome and you will see the manufacturers and craftsmen carving the wood, manufacture the djembes and mix and enjoy the madness, the haggling and the shopping … there is everything at very good prices and although Everyone has to do with you and everyone will want to sell you everything, to earn the day of your day, is not like Morocco or other Muslim countries, here with a simple ” banana ” people will kindly leave you. There are ruinillas, but “where are not there?” People in general have very good vibes and during the whole trip, I did not feel insecure, maybe something during the night, but if you are in Dakar … .. you can not lose your life Night, because it is full of good concerts (go to Just 4 U) and good bars, where besides many prostitutes, there is a lot of fun.
When the sea came down, I decided to go to the island of NGOR . Talking about Ngor is talking about one of the surfing meccas in Senegal. Many of you have seen the straightening that comes out in The Endless Summer … that is NGOR RIGHT, one of the best waves in the country, although always very exposed to the winds, the classic days have very good tubes and it is a wave of world quality. With a good take off on the rocks, you have to be careful at low tide, because the reef and the hedgehog rocodron wait for you to be skinned. Perhaps it has more fame, than reality, although I if I have hooked good bathrooms, the island left, NGOR LEFT, I found it much less cute and more good. In the middle of the island, this PHILIPPES, a tubazo, that reminded me a lot of Medusa, in La Graciosa.
The island of Ngor, I found a magical place, they call it the island of the artists and it has a hippie and bohemian roll, mixed with the fishermen and locals of the island, which make it a highly recommended place to stop for a few days. Also I was fortunate enough to coincide with some local surfing friends from Somo (Pana & company) a few days, with whom I had a great time and they gave them incredible pictures.
I recommend this place and there are 2 very nice Camps in Ngor. On the island a Danish, Jesper, rents the house of rapper Akon and has a very handsome site, while on land Pancho, a Frenchman has another camp.
YOFF is a small fishing town, which thanks to its “pretty” beach, has become in recent years a key place for tourism. Here you will find some surf school and although there is almost always wind, many days there are good sessions. The highlight of Yoff, is his island, with very good waves, both on the left and on the right, a slab of death in the last section … and very few people, to say no one. In Yoff, you’ll find incredible wood workshops.
When this small Yoff and the island of Ngor, on the other side breaks BENAKAM , a left that is well, throws some right, but apart from being infected with sea urchins, it is like surfing in a landfill. Other waves are LOIC LEFT & CARBON BAIES.
After several days of surfing all around, finally came the jewel that was waiting ….
OUAKAM the best wave for my taste of all Senegal …. maybe together with CLUB MED .
OUAKAM is an amazing place, a fishing village that is alive in the morning, with all the boats arriving, while in the market they prepare to sell and distribute all the fishing in a few minutes and slowly is calming, but always this alive. With the mosque presiding over everything and the market full of fishermen and women cleaning the fish. An amazing site and one of my favorite villages. In the afternoon everything changes and people come to train wrestling, wrestling, the 2nd national sport after football (if you have the opportunity to go and see a match at the Dakar stadium, it is a festival to live it). As Ouakam is perfection and the best sessions of the whole trip I have pasted them here. Both the right and the left the good days are pure tube and quality; With a wave falling on a slab of stones, infected with hedgehogs. My favorite wave Very good sessions. Spending several days there is like being inside a movie. Eye!!! Here there are sharks and you will see them before entering the water.
The other jewel of Senegal for my taste is CLUB MED , derechón, reminds me of a good day of Killers in Morocco, but much more perfect. Always enter enough sea and is the only way to surf, because you go over the rocks. On the turn this NO RETURN , the wave harder, like a slab with a tube from beginning to end of rights. I have only two bathrooms, but possibly the two most intense of the whole trip. The name says it all. Right pipe, pure pipe.
Two classic excursions that you have to do before leaving the Dakar area are:
1) Visit the large statue at the top of Dakar, which the North Koreans built less than a year ago. The largest statue of Africa, which means the rebirth of Africa and possibly within a few years its 52 meters in height, with the statue of man, woman and child, mean something more than it is today; A shame for the Senegalese. Money wasted on a bronze statue, little visited and built in a country that has many more needs like electricity, water, education … Interesting to see, but money badly employed.
It is not yet in the history books, but the idea is that it is representative of the promising future of Africa, just as in States they have the statue of liberty, in Rio el Cristo, in Paris the Tower … Why not go to To have the African continent his statue?
2 ) Goree Island . It belongs to the heritage of Unesco. The last connection between the slaves and Africa. A place full of history. A 20 minute boat ride from Dakar, one of the symbols of Senegalese slavery …. there are also waves.
To the south of Dakar , there is another wave bomb YENNE TOD AL SUR where there are hardly any people and more to the south, the true seraching begins. From Dakar to GAMBIA along the coast of Senegal you will pass through places like BARGNY, YENNE-SUR-MER, TOUBAB DIALOW, NDAYANE, POPENGUINE, LA SAMONE, NGAPAROU, MBOUR, WARANG, NIANING, POINTÉ SARÉNE, MBODIÉNE, NGAZOBIL, JOEL FADIOUTH … GAMBIA
This stretch of coast is one of the most beautiful, but less explored by surfers who usually stay by Yoff, NGor and Dakar. Fishing villages, paradisiacal beaches and a continuous feeling of being in the same paradise. There are less waves, but it is worth it to escape at least 1 week, to see all this stretch, because for me it is one of the most authentic areas of Senegal and it is “the real Senegal”.
To move around the country, use the public bus and although the transports in Senegal work well, are both chaotic Always wait until the bus is full to be able to leave and you will never arrive at the scheduled time.
The bus stations are full of life, with many children looking for life and everyone selling everything.
I have made from north to south of Senegal only with my boards and a backpack, in public transport and it is crazy, but at the same time it is an unforgettable trip. Cars and minibuses are petted, with a driver and another person who is responsible for raising money, while he worries about continuing to fill the bus as the journey progresses. When you think it’s impossible for more people to come in, you’re always wrong and + and + people climb. This trip with the boards and backpacks and the whole world of bus looking at the white has been one of the highlights of the trip and although it is lost a lot of time, not money, because it is the cheapest way to travel, it has been an unforgettable experience And every bus ride has been a movie in itself.
En route to the south, you will pass through MBOUR a large city that lives close to the road and that has everything. It is not a very attractive place, it is in the interior, but at 5 minutes by car this SALY , one of the most beautiful beaches and the most tourist areas of Senegal, where the water is warm (rare thing in Senegal); A very good market and a lot of nightlife, but all this has a lot of turisteo, so you will not be in the real Senegal here. Like some sites in Senegal, they have tried to occidentar it and condition it for the tourists. It is a good place to relax 1 or 2 days, but little more. There are many Senegalese to discover and this is not the most handsome.
On the way south, towards Gambia, I recommend to stop at one of the many natural parks and reserves that exist, such as Niokolo Koba, Djoudj National Park, Bandia, Popenguine, Ferlo, Gueumbeul Reserve … where you can see all kinds of animals.
The natural park of Sine Delta Salum (mangrooves) one of the most beautiful places in Senegal. An amazing site with 17 islets, full of mangroves and salt marshes. Bird watching. A place where Muslims and Catholics live in harmony and respect. There is a very pretty village to spend a few days in Ndangane.
JOEL- FADIOUTH is another of those places where Christians and Muslims live together. The place where President Leopald was born. A very handsome town with a small port and a river, crossed by a beautiful bridge that links two cities. RECOMMENDED.
The border with Gambia is quite chaotic and for lack of time I could not cross, but if you have time and there are no waves, do not hesitate to see the other Senegal, the real Africa, where ” Time never kills you, you kill at the time ” And where everything in Africa goes slower ” This is Africa ” usual phrase. Inland cities like DIOURBEL, FATIK, KAOLAK, ZIGUINCHOR, almost on the border with Guinea Bissau. Between Gambia and Guinea Bissau to the south of Senegal, TAMBACOUNDA- Direction Mali …. Many Senegalese to see and not all the time I would have liked. Next time.
To NORTH of Dakar , the first important city that you will pass, will be THIES, a jaleo of siege, that has of everything, to 70 km of the capital and 2nd city of the country. Locus craziness, but during the trip, you may have to stop at the uphill or downhill at some point. From Thies, I went to Lake Retba, LAKE ROSA , where the Dakar race ends and where I’m curious, but as the great majority that goes, you’re disappointed, because few days this rose, since conditions have to be given Special. It is very touristy. Bathe and float by salt, flea market, looking for lives and the beach if that is very cool. Must see it, but would not recommend it ..
From here travel to KAYAR , one of the largest ports in Senegal. The beach full of boats. Many fish and also sharks. From Kayar to MBORO , 100 km and an amazing site, alive, with a fishing community rooted, as in all the coast.
After a multi-day beating in public transport and some bus broken, finally arrive at ST. LOUIS . I arrived at night and I remember that my first impression was to feel that there were only children in the street and a lot of noise. It is the largest city in the north, only 3 hours from Mauritania. Old capital of Senegal, in the time of the settlers, much history, fishing town, clearly Islamic, bustling and alive 24 hours. Of my favorite cities in Senegal …. and it has very good waves.
There is a very good place to stay, in front of one of the best peaks of the immense beach, the Auberg Pelican. Surfing for only several days, as in many moments of the trip, wishing to see someone in the water. St. Louis is an amazing site. The market and the harbor are amazing. Interesting city. The beach is huge, with many peaks and has very good waves. RECOMMENDED!!!
Many magical moments during the trip and very good sessions; Traveling alone through Senegal, has been a great trip in every way and I have liked EVERYTHING. The locals are very polite, respectful and above all very good surfers. Senegal has very good waves, I was surprised. To put a but, the water is cool. It gives an air to Morocco, in fact it reminded me how the Moor was 15 years ago, but with a black population and much more tolerant and open.
I stay with the sunrise and sunset, the stars, the African sun, the smells, the good waves, the madness of the cities and the bus stations, the endless bus rides …. I am left with the beauty and strength of the African woman, the nobility and dignity of the African man, the children’s smile … I keep that Africa is changing and Africa is the future … and a part of me stays in Senegal .
“Légui, légui Senegal, Begg Naa la”, see you soon. Jah Bless U. ONE LOVE
PS: If you can go to the WORLD FESTIVAL OF BLACK ARTISTS- December 10-31. I have seen the poster this year and it is the most brutal thing that can be seen live.
PHOTOS & TEXT: NACHETE GARCÍA