The Surfers Guide to Ghana: Part I

Ghana surfing

This guide is intended to help surfers looking to enjoy Ghana’s amazing coast line for the first time it will give an introduction to where you might find some waves, what the waves and bottom conditions are like and where to stay in the area around these breaks.  I will not go very far inland since I can imagine that it will be very hard to pull yourself away from the beach.  Ghana is still relatively undiscovered in the surfing community and there is little information out there about where to surf in Ghana, and some of this may be kept a secret by the people who know and wish to keep it that way.  But surfing is not new to Ghana as surfers have been coming here since the 60’s as seen in the popular Endless Summer video from that time period  but they may have been little and far between up until 2006 when the first surf shop appeared in Ghana.

A little intro video to Ghana surfing by our partners at Black Star Surf Shop:

 

Ghana has about 370 miles (about 590 km) of beached, caped and reefed coastline making it a perfect place to find surf.  This combined with friendly Ghanaians, a rich culture, beautiful weather, and lots for travelers to do makes it an undiscovered paradise of empty waves still off the major surf maps.  The highlight of Ghana surfing before 2006 was the clip seen below, in the “Endless Summer” surf movie that many will recognize.  There may have been a few adventurous surfers that passed through following Endless Summer, but there was really no sort of surf movement until Black Star Surf Shop opened its doors in Busua Beach in 2006.  This started a little movement in Ghana which is still very much in its infancy today, check out the video below about the formation of Black Star Surf shop who is also our partner in all of our surf Adventures.

“Endless Summer,” Ghana clip

 The Black Star Surfers Documentary

The experience of surfing in Ghana today has changed little from those early days in Endless Summer.  Everywhere outside of Busua the waves are still empty, the people are still friendly, and the kids are still hundreds deep watching you tear up the waves hoping for the chance to get to try it.  Foreigners (regardless of their color or nationality, unless other Africans) are referred to by Ghanaians as obruni, this is often mistaken by travelers to mean white person, but roughly translated it means person who came from the sea.  So even to this day it creates a little bit of a stir in most of the surfing communities when they see someone ride in from a wave.

Unfortunately I have not had much personal experience with surfing in Ghana and I do not have personal experience with most of these breaks, information here will be provided from some personal experience along with information found throughout the web.  Please feel free to post your experiences here along with any comments you might have.  Only through community can we provide more information about what is out there.

Some great articles about Surfing and Development in Ghana:

http://www.economist.com/node/21550253

http://www.caravanmagazine.in/letters/ghana-crude-beginnings

When to Go:

Ghana’s water rarely dips outside of its zone of 75-78 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, so there is no bad time in terms of water temperatures to go and surf in Ghana.  Ghana’s coast line ranges from 6 degrees north of the equator to 4 degrees north of the equator at its most southern point.  This makes for nice warm air temperatures throughout the year too.  During the southern hemispheres winter is when the waves pick up most, this is during the northern hemispheres summer June – September.  The largest waves are reported during September.  This is also the rainy season in Ghana, which usually makes for some afternoon showers.  To learn more about when is a good time to visit Ghana more generally read here.

Pros of Ghana Surfing:

  • Zero Localism
  • Empty waves with no line up
  • Great place for women to surf or learn to surf, as there are very few male surfers to put up with and no localism
  • Leave your wet-suit at home you won’t need it here all year round
  • Wonderful beach lodges to stay in near the breaks in comfort.
  • A surf shop located near some of the best breaks in Ghana
  • So much more to do than just surfing
  • No Sharks

Downside of surfing in Ghana:

  • You will not want to tell anyone about it because there will be a side of you that wants to keep it a secret and all to yourself.
  • You will probably want to shy away from being in the water or surfing at high tide in a lot of areas.  Trash disposal in Ghana is not that great so the tide picks up a lot of garbage especially around Accra and to the East of Accra.  In the rural areas the beach is still the bathroom, this practice is thankfully dying for those of us that love the beach.  But you can’t really blame the locals that don’t have toilets and the beach offers fresh air, a view and removal of the waste everyday.
  • Only a few places to rent boards.
  • Public transportation is not that well set up for boards, and cab drivers don’t really know what to do with them yet.
  • Strong Rip tides

Some days to put on the surf Calendar for the 2013 season:

March 4-6th-  Asabaako Music Festival in Busua

June 20th-  International Surf Beach Clean-up at Busua Beach

August-  Ghana Surfing Association Invitational.

Dangers Precautions and tips:

It is advisable to never surf alone and this especially goes for an unknown surf destination like Ghana.  There are jagged rocks at many of the breaks you should be careful off and some reefs.  Ghana is known for its intense rip tides that have taken more than a few lives, be careful and use the buddy system.

The best way to have the most amount of fun and to find the best breaks is by going with a local surf guide.  Our surf adventure provides this opportunity, spending a week exploring the best breaks around Busua.

Around Accra and to the east of Accra the water is very dirty with the run off from the city and trash in the water, try to avoid surfing post rain, and near the let out of streams, lagoons and rivers, this just makes things dirtier.  There are so many better places to surf further away from Accra, but if you insist use ear plugs to avoid and ear infection.

Below is a little video about the dangers of tides in Ghana and what one organization is setting out to do to avoid more drownings.

What to bring:

  1.  Surf Board-  you can rent from Black Star Surf Shop but that is no where close to Accra and you will pass by some surf on the way.  This way you know you have a board that will work for you also.
  2. Passport and Ghana Visa- If you are bringing your board, put this with your board as you will not forget your board so you will not forget this.  You will not get very far without your passport and you will not make it onto your final flight into Ghana without your visa.
  3. Rash Guard
  4. Plenty of sun screen
  5. A hat to block the sun
  6. Some gifts or things to trade or give to new Ghanaian friends
  7. Camera, and video camera, come on lets see some more cool surf videos coming out of Ghana.
  8. Sunglasses
  9. Mosquito Replant
  10. Longboard or longer fun board would probably be best for Ghana
  11. If going to Busua you may want to bring your pool skate board.
There are many more things that a traveler to Ghana should pack the list above is more specific to surfers but you can see a more complete list here.
Keep an eye out for Part II,

Where to find surf from East to West along Ghana’s Coast line

 

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