Whilst visiting Dublin, one of Sierra Leone’s Banana Islands, we stayed in one of the 12 tents at Bafa Resort for two nights.
Having left our vehicle in the coastal village of Kent, we watched fishermen mending their nets on the beach whilst waiting for the Bafa-owned boat. The motorised wooden boat, which would seat around 20, wasn’t able to get right up to the shoreline, so it was shoes off to wade out. The 30-minute journey was relatively rough, and on arrival, the dismount wasn’t easy, as again we had to paddle, but this time there were slippery hidden rocks to contend with.
We were greeted with fresh coconuts before being taken to our tent, called Fula. The tents were spread out along the coastline and in the grounds and Fula was in a great position directly overlooking the sea, which ensured complete privacy and at night, it felt as though waves were literally lapping around our tent. More importantly, it was also near to the bathroom block.
The simple tent was a reasonable size, and at least we could stand up in the middle. A wooden board with shells and an information sheet was moved to avoid tripping up over it, and a fan proved welcome in the night. There was also a spare electrical socket for charging. The floor was covered with an attractive mat, and the mattress on the ground was comfortable with a simple sheet, but plenty of pillows.
Directly outside our tent, we had an outdoor seating area, with large wooden table, plastic chairs, and a hammock. This overlooked rocks which when exposed at low tide were covered in white gulls.
The bathroom block had gents and ladies loos with a sign with arrows and the slogan ‘men to the left because women are always right’. The basin tap in the ladies trickled, whereas in the gents, it just went round and round. However, there was a mirror, something we’d not had for days, so Roy was able to shave, and I could see the state of my hair. There were also four self-contained large shower rooms with a shelf for toiletries but no towel hook. The block was kept immaculate by Tom, who provided fresh towels each time. Despite the information sheet in the tent suggesting the availability of hot water, again something we’d not had for days, sadly it was a false promise.
The bar and eating area was all outdoor, with lots of tables and chairs dotted around the grounds. We sat up at the bar on an upturned boat and found they could mix a mean cocktail, with a loaded lemonade being both potent and delicious. And as we discovered, depending on who served you, the gin was either glugged liberally or carefully measured. Ice was a little lacking and the availability of tonic and other drinks varied during our stay.
A large white board next to the bar had the daily lunch and dinner menus with a choice of two starters and three mains – desserts were not mentioned, but I suspect would have been fresh fruit. Whilst there were a few vegetarian options, for example beer battered onion rings to start, this was definitely a fishy place, and having asked whether they ever served meat, I was told “there are no animals in the water”. However, when the fish was fresh and cheap, we couldn’t have wanted more. A whole lobster, big enough for two, was 400 SLE/£16, and a crab less than half that price. A starter of beer battered fish fingers, was not only absolutely delicious, but it was also huge and plenty for two at lunch, especially when accompanied by a garlic dip and fresh bread. The daily changing ceviche made a refreshing, light starter for dinner when shared.
Sunrise was around 7.30am and on our first day, we enjoyed sitting out and watching the sun come up in our PJs. On the second and final morning, a surprise cafetiere of coffee was delivered.
Breakfast was either ‘African or normal’ and as we discovered, they were both omelettes, with the African having the addition of chillies. It was served with avocado and lightly toasted bread drizzled with oil. Coffee was accompanied by creamer and sugar served in fish shaped containers and juicy papaya followed.
The journey back onto terra firma was smoother than on the way out, and as the tide was higher it was easier to get out of the boat, but was not helped by a man thrusting a bag of shells in my face at a critical moment.
Despite being slightly apprehensive about camping, this was one of my favourite places during our tour of Sierra Leone – although at times, we felt as though we were in the Caribbean.
See also the review of Banana Islands.