Surfing In Senegal
Lying in the South-Western corner of the vast Saharan desert and the most Western point of mainland Africa is a hidden goldmine. The fact that it has not yet been overrun by wave hungry miners from all over the globe is a minor miracle. The place I am referring to is Senegal and its beaches are full of gold that can be easily accessed year round by hungry and greedy surfers. Many surfers have come and enjoyed the spoils of Senegal in the past, which was first put on the map in the iconic film The Endless Summer in 1966, but unlike its north neighbours, Morocco, Portugal and Spain, the more concealed coastline of Senegal is yet to be overrun by surf commercialism and tourism, and let’s hope it stays this way. So do yourself a favour and read this article, but keep the secret of the hidden gold to yourself.
Senegal in the Endless Summer (1966).
So what are the main attractions to surfing in Senegal. The first thing that must be noted is obviously the wave quality and consistently. Sitting at the most western point of Africa, Senegal is exposed to consistent swell year round! In winter it gets the consistent north and north west swells from the North Atlantic, the same that smash the coast of Europe. The bonus being the water is nowhere near as cold, so you don’t have to worry about bringing your thick suits, gloves and hoods. Then just when things start to quiet down post winter, and Europe and Morocco begin to go flat, Senegal then picks up summer south swells raging down in the bottom of Africa, the same that see South Africa and newly discovered waves like Skeleton Bay light up. The bonus is you are in boardshorts this time of year.
Senegal In Summer. Credit: Ngor Island Surf Camp
Adding to this is the fact that Senegal has a wide variety of waves that are suited to all types of surfers and skills levels. Whether you want slow rolling waves, a punchy beach break or some serious slabs, Senegal has you covered. A lot of the quality waves are centred around Senegal’s capital Dakar and these waves are all within a short distance of each other, so that is a good place to start. But for the serious miners seeking unexplored gold, Senegal has many other breaks North and South of Dakar, leading all the way down to Gambia and the actual Gold Coast of Africa, in places like Ghana, which apparently have some serious waves as well.
Apart from the surf, Senegal has a rich culture and history that has been supported and flourished since its independence from France in 1960. The people and culture have a fusion of Islamic and African Indigenous roots, which leads to lively streets, celebrations and of course music and parties! Senegal is still a developing country, but it remains one of the safest and politically stable countries in the African continent. It’s rich history also coincided with the destructive Atlantic Slave Trade, where landmarks and museums can be visited throughout the country to help widen your perspectives and empathy on things outside of surfing. For those interested in surfing good waves and exploring new cultures and experiences, Senegal truly is a gold mine. I’m just surprised the gold rush has not already started.
Checkout the scene in Senegal here with Cherif Fall. Credit: Wasted Talent.
Featured Image: Anne Steinbach
Words: Sam Shearer