While Accra may be the capital of Ghana, Africa, it is understood by travelers that Cape Coast is a destination favorite. The area is quite touristy, with myriad attractions, shops, and beaches. And for tourists looking to feel a little less foreign, this is the perfect place.
In Cape Coast, there is something for everyone. There are historical sites for the educated travelers, beaches for those looking to lounge around, national parks for outdoor enthusiasts and great nightlife for the party animals. Moreover, if you don’t want to disappoint all your friends back home who are dying to know what kind of wildlife you saw in Africa, there are opportunities for that, too.
From Accra, head over to Kaneshi Station where you will be able to get a tro-tro, which is basically a crowded van, directly to Cape Coast for 5 Ghana Cedis (about $2.64). While the journey itself only takes about two to three hours, keep in mind a tro-tro will not leave the station until it is completely full, which could add to your travel time. Don’t worry if you’re carrying a large backpack, as you will be able to store it in the back, sometimes for a fee, depending who is driving the tro-tro.
Where to Stay
The resort is right on the beach so you can watch the fishermen pull in their nets over breakfast while they sing and chant.
If you are looking to stay in the heart of the city, Oasis Beach Resort, located right next to Cape Coast Castle, is a popular option for backpackers, couples and families. The resort is right on the beach so you can watch the fishermen pull in their nets over breakfast while they sing and chant. Side Note: Beware! If you want jam it’s 1 Ghana Credi extra for one tiny packet. For 10 Ghana Cedis (about $5.29), you will be able to secure a bed in a 14-bedroom dorm, while for about 50 Ghana Cedis (about $26.44) you can have a private room with a double bed.
If you would rather stay in a more remote location that is a bit closer to Kakum National Park and Elmina Castle, stay at Hans Cottage Botel. This property has a range of room choices, from private houses to dorm rooms, and is home to a crocodile pond. There is also a pool, restaurant, tennis courts and hiking trails. Although there is no beach within walking distance, it is possible to take a taxi either to Oasis Beach Resort or Elmina Beach Resort, both about 20 to 30 minutes away, to enjoy surf and sand.
If you are looking for a mixed crowd of both locals and tourists, the Oasis Beach Resort is the most popular place in the city. Located right on the beach, their outdoor bar is the perfect place to grab a drink and dance under the stars. When you want to cool down, head 10 feet over to the beach. Tip: This is one of the less stingy venues when it comes to pouring shots!
If you are looking to immerse yourself in the culture of Ghana and hangout with the locals, Aunty Ama’s Spot is worth the visit. Don’t expect crazy fist pumping or salsa dancing as the ambiance is relaxed and chilled out. Music played varies from American to European to African beats.
Things To Do
Imagine a swinging bridge that appears to have been made 100 years ago, shaking and shifting as you walk above the tree tops. At some points, the bridge leans to one side so much you feel as if you might flip over the edge.
One of the most popular attractions when traveling to Cape Coast is visiting Kakum National Park and doing the canopy walk. Keep in mind that while the park itself has a lush forest with lots of trails, visitors are not permitted to wander around by themselves and must hire a guide who will not allow wandering off the main path. While this may be disappointing to some of the hikers, the park is worth the visit to experience the canopy walk, which will cost 30 Ghana Cedis (about $15.86). It’s 15 Ghana Cedis (about $7.93) if you have a student ID, or at least something that resembles something that might be a student ID. Imagine a swinging bridge that appears to have been made 100 years ago, shaking and shifting as you walk above the tree tops. At some points, the bridge leans to one side so much you feel as if you might flip over the edge. Don’t worry though, the canopy walk is safe and the fear is half the fun. If you stay at Hans Cottage Botel, you will be able to get a taxi driver to take you to Kakum National Park and wait for you to take you back to your lodging. They advertise the price as being 40 Ghana Cedis (about $21.15), but you will most likely be able to barter them down to 30 Ghana Cedi (about $15.86).
Shopping is another way to spend your time in Cape Coast, as the region has a worthwhile market run by amiable Rastafarians. While in Ghana it is difficult to find tourist-friendly shopping, you can find quality, usable products here such as clothing, paintings, carvings, jewelry, instruments and more. Visit Dennis and his brother Sadat for some entertainment as they are both goofballs who love to sing and dance. If you are staying at the Oasis Resort, you can make a right out of your accommodation, and on the first corner on your right you will see a strip of colorful market stalls. If you are out of cash and need to use a credit card – something that is almost impossible in Ghana – you can visit another quality market right outside the entrance of Cape Coast Castle for the same type of merchandise.
“If the crocodiles are not hungry they will not bite you.” But, do you really want to try to guess if they are hungry or not?
If you are looking to see wild animals, right at Hans Cottage Botel there is a crocodile pond. There are tons of them in the water, and people are even allowed to feed and sit on the crocodiles, although the safety of doing so is up to you. As one of the workers of the botel said, “If the crocodiles are not hungry they will not bite you.” But, do you really want to try to guess if they are hungry or not? Also, if you are thinking about visiting the Monkey Jungle to see some wild animals don’t bother, as there are no monkeys to be seen.
In terms of history, there are also two forts that are worth visiting in Cape Coast. One is called Fort William. Fort William is a reconstruction of Smith’s Tower using more durable materials. Smith’s Tower was once one of three lookout posts used to protect Cape Coast Castle against Ashanti attacks in 1819 and 1820. While it is now used as a home for Cape Coast Castle workers, the fort was used as a lighthouse from the 1830s to the 1970s. The other fort, Fort Victoria, has a similar story, although it is the replacement for Phipp’s Tower, also used as a lookout point for Cape Coast Castle. Both towers are accessible for a small fee.
Slave castles can add an element of history and education to your trip to Cape Coast. If you are staying at the Oasis Resort, the Cape Coast Castle is walking distance from your accommodation. While this is the smaller of the two castles in the region, you will still be able to take a guided tour, seeing exactly where the slaves were kept and learning what life was like for these people when the castle was in use. If you are staying at the Hans Cottage Botel, visiting Elmina Castle, the bigger and more popular of the two, would be in your best interest.