Ghana's coast offers plenty of diverse beaches and glimpses into everyday life © Renate Wefers / Getty Images
Ghana's Atlantic coast is a 550km (341-mile) stretch of low-lying, sandy shoreline known for its warm, tropical waters and swaying palms, not to mention a fabulous array of white-sand beaches. Whether you want to bodyboard the waves or lounge beneath a thatched-roof palapa sipping from a freshly cut coconut, Ghana has beaches for every style.
A note of caution: tides and currents are unpredictable along Ghana’s coastline, so be aware before you head into the water. Many of the beaches charge a small entry fee in Ghanian cedi, which typically converts to a couple US dollars, so plan accordingly.
Here are seven of our favorite beaches in Ghana.
Best beach for easy access from the capital
Ghana’s busiest beach, Labadi (also known as La Pleasure Beach) skirts the coastline of Accra, attracting a mix of residents and visitors drawn by its wide sands and proximity to downtown. During the day, throngs of sunbathers relax at umbrellaed beachfront tables, dining on plates of beef kebabs accompanied by bottles of Star beer outside lodgings like Labadi Beach Hotel and La Palm Royal Beach Resort.
Kayayei (female porters) selling bags of water and snacks of plantains and fresh sugarcane are common along the beach, as are men offering horseback ride excursions through the sea’s shallow waters. Bonfires and the sounds of reggae and afrobeats take over Labadi at night. Unfortunately, so much foot traffic results in plastic bottles and other trash dirtying up the sands and often floating in the waters.
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Best beach for families
Accra’s traffic can be brutal, but it’s worth the drive to Bojo Beach, on the western side of greater Accra’s Densu Delta Protected Area, about a 27km (17-mile) drive from the city’s Kotoka International Airport. This private white-sand island beach, reachable across the Densu River via guided canoe (a ride that kids tend to love), is the perfect place to spread out and relax with family or friends, without having to deal with the constant stream of hawkers prevalent on many nearby beaches. Hunker down under one of the thatched-roof palapas along the waterfront and take in the lines of fishermen procuring their daily catch or spend an afternoon soaking in the beach’s warm waters.
Bojo lacks the crowds of bigger beaches, making it easier for parents to keep watch of children, and is generally clean and quiet, especially on weekdays. Food and drink are available onsite, which is good because you’re not allowed to bring your own. The sunsets here are mesmerizing.
Ghana's beaches range from shores lined with vendors to peaks with sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean © Gerhard Pettersson / EyeEm
Best beach for partying
For oceanfront dance parties that go well into the early morning hours, you can’t beat Kokrobite Beach, once a small fishing village that’s now part of greater Accra and situated on its far western edge. A favorite among backpackers, weekend revelers and international volunteers, Kokrobite is home to warm waters, ample crowds, and plenty of lively bars, hotels and eateries. By day, lounge along the beach’s expansive white sands amid bright-painted, hand-carved fishing boats or peruse the many nearby souvenir kiosks after catching some shade beneath a coconut tree. Live bands are the norm at night, but petty theft is also more commonplace, so it’s best to stick with friends.
Best beach for engaging in local culture and activities
A narrow and quiet palm-fringed stretch, Butre is a gem of a beach tucked away in Ghana’s Western Region, approximately 31km (19 miles) from the port city of Sekondi-Takoradi. Local resorts such as the Hideout Lodge do their part in keeping the beach clean, making it great for sunbathing.
The nearby Ahanta village of Butre is home to Fort Batenstein, a Dutch-established former hilltop trading post that offers sweeping views of the Atlantic, as well as its own Town Tourism Development Committee. You can book activities from moonlight sea turtle walks to dugout canoe excursions up the mangrove-lined Butre River, seeking out mudskippers, kingfishers and even crocodiles.
The palm-fringed stretches of Ghana's beaches are great for a secluded getaway © Mattias Samuelsson / Getty Images
Cape Three Points Beach
Best beach for relaxing
Located at the southernmost point of Ghana, Cape Three Points Beach and its greater peninsula have earned the nickname “the land nearest nowhere” because of its geographic location. This beach is the nearest dry land to the sea’s 0º latitude, longitude and altitude. The beach isn’t easy to get to – it’s reachable via a stretch of uneven roadway that can be quickly taken out by storms – but once arriving you’ll find a large swath of clean, undisturbed white sands with a few small and scattered coves upon which you can sit back, relax and savor breathtaking ocean views. Although rough waters keep most swimmers at bay, the waves are suitable for intermediate and experienced surfers.
Nearby Escape3Points Ecolodge can arrange a guided visit to the solar-powered Cape Three Points lighthouse or a stroll through the biodiverse Cape Three Points Forest Reserve, a coastal rainforest home to Diana monkeys, white-naped mangabeys and yellow-casqued hornbills.
Best beach for wildlife
Groves of coconut trees surround this small, clean stretch of beach, one of the best in the Ada Foah area, approximately 110km (68 miles) east of Accra. Cocoloco sits along the Volta Estuary, where the freshwater Volta River meets the Atlantic Ocean, making this beach a haven for resident and migratory birds, including gulls, egrets, and royal and black terns. Sea turtles also breed here, laying their eggs in November and December. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a manatee.
While the waters are good for swimming, the sea breezes make them especially geared toward watersports like windsurfing and sailing. On Wednesdays or Saturdays, head to the market at Ada-Foah for fresh clams, shrimp, crabs and several varieties of fish, which you can cook up over a bonfire in the evening. Amenities, though minimal, include backpacker-style bungalows, and camping is allowed here.
Ghana's Busua Beach is an ideal spot for surfers of all levels © John Seaton Callahan / Getty Images
Best beach for surfing
Another beauty along the coastline of Ghana’s Western Region about an hour’s drive west of Elmina, Busua Beach has a decidedly local feel. The wide and sandy mile-long stretch is known for its large waves, which make it an ideal spot for surfers of all levels. A few budget-friendly surfing schools can be found here, including Ahanta Waves Surf School & Camp, where you can rent a board, take a workshop or sign up for a full week of surf lessons. On the beach’s west side, Busua Lagoon acts as a barrier that helps keep the beach’s waters generally safe for swimming, as well.
Bars and eateries offering catch-of-the-day seafood like lobster and tilapia dot the beach, which is popular among budget travelers who bed down at one of the local guesthouses, including the Alaska Beach Club, with its basic bungalows and shared facilities. For a more luxe stay, try the chalet-style rooms at nearby Busua Beach Resort.