Today the Liberian people are following the first female African president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, into the future with hopes that the once prosperous nation can rebuild itself. Also helping Liberians move forward is the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission (UNMIL), which maintains a strong presence in the recovering nation.
Nestled between Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, and Guinea on the West African coast, Liberia boasts golden beaches and blue lagoons lined with coconut trees, the largest rain forest in West Africa, and undulating hills dotted with coffee and rubber plantations. Though the country’s tourism industry collapsed during the civil war and has been slow to reestablish itself, Liberia has much to offer the traveler looking to experience the untouched beauty of West Africa while off the beaten track.
WHAT TO DO IN LIBERIA
1. Blo Degbo: This ancient rock formation, located in Paynesville near Monrovia, is shaped like a human face. Find a guide to take you to visit this natural marvel.
2. Sapo National Park: Liberia is home to 40 percent of West Africa’s rain forest and a large variety of flora and fauna, and most of it belongs to Sapo National Park. Though traveling outside of urban areas can be dangerous, visiting the Liberian rain forest is an unforgettable experience, offering the chance to see monkeys, leopards, chimpanzees, antelope, elephants, and anteaters.
3. Golden Beach Restaurant and Bar: Relax and indulge your inner gourmand at this American-owned restaurant, which serves a Western Continental menu on the beach in Monrovia. In the evening the restaurant turns into a nightclub; Top 40 hits and hip-hop are the name of the game here.
4. ELWA Beach: Just outside of Monrovia, this beautiful beach has a designated swimming area and is popular with families on the weekends.
5. Thinkers Beach: The waves are a little rough at Thinkers (pronounced “Tinkers”), not far out of Monrovia, but the sand is clean and warm, and food and drinks are available.
6. Robertsport: Take a day trip north out of Monrovia and visit Robertsport, known for its beaches and superb surfing. If you love water sports, as we do, this is the place for you. Tents are available on the beach for overnight stays.
7. Buchanan: Several hours south from Monrovia, this coastal town has peaceful, clean beaches and quaint restaurants and guesthouses.
8. Waterside Market: This market in Monrovia caters to locals and foreigners alike. Shop for fruits and vegetables, colorful fabric, and hand-carved masks.
WHEN TO GO
Liberia has a dry season and a rainy one: the dry season lasts from December to April and the rainy season is from May to November. Because of Liberia’s location, just north of the equator, the climate is tropical and daily temperatures are usually between 79 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (between 26 and 32 degrees Celcius.) Humidity levels are very high, especially in areas closer to the coast, averaging 88 percent year-round. Though rainfall is not consistent during the rainy season, humidity levels are higher. We suggest visiting in the dry season or in the months of July and August, when there is usually a brief period of weather similar to that of the dry season.