By ‘Niyi David

As February 14 approaches, a certain fever spreads across the globe and grips the heart of romantics, old and young. It is Saint Valentine’s Day – a celebration of L.O.V.E. fills the air. Although the origin of Valentine Day celebration has been subject to dispute, one thing that lovers across the world agree on is the celebration on the 14th of February. From the exchange of cards among friends to gifts items like boxes of chocolate, sexy lingerie, exotic perfumes, etc. For the more matured, a private candlelit dinner for two, or a weekend getaway to an exclusive destination.

Africa is not immune from the Valentine love bug and perhaps the best place to be on the continent this period is West Africa. With an inviting stretch of the Atlantic coastline from Mauritania to Nigeria, West Africa offers you a unique romantic experience in a pristine setting.

Besides, the harmattan season which starts from late November extends well into March. With little or no rain, this marks some of the best time to be in the region. The weather is dry and pleasant because of the harmattan breeze. Early mornings and evenings are particularly cold

Here are 5 destinations across West Africa you should consider for a Valentine treat you won’t forget.

Cabo Verde

Cabo Verde

Comprising of 10 islands and about 8 islets, Cabo Verde (or Cape Verde) is one of those places to look forward to for a romantic getaway. Sal, Boa Vista are some of the islands with beautiful beaches and nice resorts with facilities for watersports. Santiago has most of the country’s population, while Brava, the smallest of the islands offer an escape from the crowd. If you have the time, arrive in the first week of February so you can witness the carnival in Mindelo, São Vincente. Held usually 40 days to Easter, sometimes it falls after Valentine.

Bijagós Archipelago

Rubane Island, Bijagós Archipelago - UNESCO biosphere reserve, Bubaque sector, Bolama region, Guinea Bissau / Guiné Bissau: Hotel Punta Anchaca - a bungalow's pier / Hotel Punta Anchaca, pontão - photo by R.V.Lopes

Another group of islands on the Atlantic, Bijagós Archipelago is part of Guinea Bissau and shares a little similarity with Cabo Verde. Both countries share Portuguese influence, although the archipelago eluded colonial control for so long until 1930, and the fiercely independent Bijagós still maintain a certain level of autonomy from the federal government. Also, like Cabo Verde, February is carnival time. There are about 88 islands and islets in the archipelago with about 20 inhabited. Declared a biosphere reserve, most visitors have been either biologists or sports fishermen. With few people coming around, it makes the archipelago a great romantic getaway from the crowd.

Banana Island, Freetown

Lakkha Beach, Freetown

Not to be confused with Banana Island, somewhere in Lagos, Nigeria, the Banana Islands is made up of 3 islands namely: Dublin, Ricketts and Mes-Meheux which lie off the coast of Freetown Peninsula in Sierra Leone. In the 1730, William Clevland, an English sailor who was working with a slave-trading company was shipwrecked just off the islands. Making his way to the islands, along with surviving African slaves, Clevland declared himself king and cemented the status by marrying a Kissi woman. Banana Islands have two small but secluded beaches, perfect for a Valentine getaway.

Cape Point, Bakau

Cape Point, Bakau

Cape Point beach resort is one of The Gambia’s most family-friendly holiday resort and a major tourist magnet. Located in Bakau, about 12km (a 20-mins drive) from Banjul, Cape Point is a promontory with a beach area where the River Gambia meets the Atlantic Ocean. Fringed by a couple of choice hotels and other accommodations, Cape Point is a quiet area and an exclusive residential neighbourhood of people from the diplomatic community, top politicians, businessmen, and established families. Swimming at the beach is a risky business because of the tide. Most times a red flag is flown which clearly means ‘Don’t go into the water.’ But it’s a great place for sunbathing, while the general ambience of Cape Point, the tranquillity makes it a good spot for a Valentine escape.    

Saly, M’Bour

Villa Senegal M'bour, Saly

Located about 80km south of Senegal’s capital Dakar, Saly is not just a major tourist destination in the country, it is regarded as the top tourist destination in all of West Africa. Known in full as Saly Portudal, it was originally a Portuguese trading post named Porto de Ale. With its economy entirely dependent on tourism, Saly has excellent facilities in place to satisfy the travellers and tourists who visit. Apart from beachfront hotels, nightclubs, bars, facilities for watersports, Saly also has an 18-hole golf course. Saly is under M’Bour Department in the Thiès Region. You can access Bandia Reserve, about 20km away on a safari, visit Somone and even enjoy the Accro-baobab Adventure for the perfect Valentine rendezvous.

 

About the Author: 

‘Niyi David explores the beautiful and enthralling continent of Africa with Afro Tourism, capturing colorful memories of places, cultures and events in words and images.

 

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