A tour of Dublin – but not in Ireland

1043 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type



Date of travel

January, 2023

Product name

Banana Islands

Product country

Sierra Leone

Product city


Travelled with


Reasons for trip


Sierra Leone’s Banana Islands comprises of three small islands. The name is not as a result of their delicious bananas, but because, when the Portuguese first saw them, they thought the long shape of the islands resembled a banana.

We stayed for two nights on the largest island, Dublin, at Bafa Resort and during our stay enjoyed a guided tour of the community of Dublin.

Having been discovered initially by the Portuguese, there are still relics from this time, and we passed an old ornate street lamp and lots of bathing birds in the surrounding puddles.

However, the island was later a British slave trading centre, when up to 2,000 slaves per day waited for the ships that would transport them to the west. A track through the forest led to the old slave fortress, now a mound of rocks, and the slave pit where captured escapees were incarcerated. Further signs of its grim past were canons on the edge of the fortress.

Now the island relies on tourism, and as it’s only a 45-minute boat ride from Freetown, it attracts day trippers and wealthy weekenders. However, from the ramshackle state of many buildings, Covid had clearly affected the economy.

The island, with a population of around 800, has a single primary school. The door was open, and several inquisitive children spotted us and ran out, giving us the opportunity to peek in where around 15 children of all ages were being taught in the one room. Outside, an old gas canister had been transformed into the school bell.

We saw the remains of the old Catholic church, and the new white washed St Luke’s church, dedicated in 2011, with the bell from the old church outside. The door was locked, so we contented ourselves with peering through an open window to see the dark wooden pews and the words ‘O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness’ written above the table alter. In contrast, the Zion Church was built from red brick, but once again it was locked.

Impressive, large street signs, with English connotations, George Street, Thomas Street, appeared out of keeping with the dirt paths they named.

Passing through a gate with a Beware of the Dog sign, the path led to Big Sand Beach, the largest on the island but unfortunately, a large volume of rubbish from Freetown washes up here. Whilst our resort saw sunrise, this is the place to see the sunset, but we figured the return walk was too far in the dark. We were told the nearby house belonged to the Head Woman, Veronica Sakey, who married a Russian, and there was a skeleton of a huge boat “The Ark”, whose conversion to a floating supermarket had been put on hold due to the invasion of Ukraine.

A short cut took us down through the trees to the main public jetty: we had arrived directly onto the beach at Bafa Resort. Here there was a huge kapok tree, several fishing boats on the beach and others moored offshore. The latter were said to belong to fisherman from another area who would come for a few days, camp on the shore and not return until their boats were full. Walking back up the jetty a large banner proclaimed, ‘Welcome to Dublin, Banana Island – The centre of tourism in Africa’, whilst stones on either side commemorated the 2020 bi-centenary celebration.

The island has the Maternal and Child Health Post, supported by the US Agency for International Development, and we met a nurse who had travelled on the boat with us to the island. Here mosquito nets, vitamin and worming tablets could all be obtained, as well as vaccinations for many diseases, including Covid.

We then returned back to base having had a lovely leisurely 2-hour stroll on reasonable paths. As we had passed a variety of fruit trees, including banana, plantain, mango, and papaya, it seemed appropriate that fruit featured so much on the menus of Bafa Resort.

See also the review of Bafa Resort.

Helen Jackson

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.