Located on the northern coast of Bioko Island at the edge of a sunken volcano is Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea and its second largest city. Upon leasing the island from Spain, the British founded the city in 1827 and named it Port Clarence. However, it was renamed Santa Isabel when the city returned to Spanish rule and it replaced Bata as capital of the country in 1969, before being renamed Malabo in 1973.
An oil-rich and cosmopolitan city, Malabo is very much the nation’s commercial and financial hub with an international airport, and the deepest seaport in the region. The city has a tropical monsoon climate with a short dry season that lasts three months from December to February, while rainy season lasts for nine months. Average daily mean is 24°C annually with the evening usually cooler than the day.
Malabo has an interesting nightlife with most of the better pubs and hangout being in the main hotels. The city is still developing and is a place worth exploring as it unfolds its potentials.
Still a growing city and yet to exploit its tourism potentials, Malabo still has a couple of interesting ‘Must See’ which include: Catedral de Santa Isabel built in 1916 in a Spanish-Gothic style, La Casa Verde (Green House) and Palacio de la Presidencia. Others attractions are; the gardens of the City Hall, Museum of Modern Art and an archeological-ethnographic museum at the Claretian Mission in the city. There are good beaches near the city, but there are better white sands ones like Arena Blanca at Luba, about an hour drive from Malabo. Universidad de Guinea Ecuatorial is an impressive exhibition of vintage Spanish architecture. Moka Wildlife Centre, the research headquarters of Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program (BBPP) is located at Moka, about 2 hours from Malabo.
Spanish influence is present in the local menu, even though most of the offerings are largely based on the West African staple ingredients like yam, cassava, sweet potato and plantain. Seafood are a natural component, as well as tropical produce and chicken. One of the popular meals is stewed chicken in peanut sauce served with rice or boiled plantain. Another local delight is fresh fish or meat grilled with crushed pumpkin seeds, wrapped in leaves. However, being a major spot for expats, there are a couple of restaurants offering Chinese, Moroccan, Italian, Thai, French and several other intercontinental cuisines.
There are a couple of local brews like malamba, from fermented sugar, Osang (African tea) is common, as well as palm wine. Locally brewed beer and imported ones are always readily available, as well as good wine and spirits at the pubs, bars and hotels.