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A night at Tarkwa Bay

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Three years ago, 90 per cent of the current Tarkwa Bay visitors had their noses turned up against the idea of spending a day on its beach, I included. But in the past few years, the local dwellers on the man-made beach put in a laudable effort to clean up the image of the beach. No longer known as the hideout for criminals or the spot to binge on heavy drug usage or indulge in its sex-traffic opportunities, Tarkwa Bay woke up and decided to become THE beach destination for Lagos living millennial.

For those unaware, Tarkwa Bay is accessible only by boat and is right opposite the still-developing Eko Atlantic. From Victoria Island, there is a company dedicated to meeting the needs of the Lagos Island dwellers, Fiki Marine. For a fee of N4,000 you get a round trip ticket on their comfortable boats to and fro Tarkwa Bay, along with a sizeable safe parking space for guests. For the thrifty, there are other less plushy options like paying N1,000 from Bonny Camp area, or N300 one way trip from the boat terminal in Marina’s CMS bus stop . Parking spots for those are for an additional fee, and for those that want to spend the night on the beach, take a cab instead for the sake your vehicle’s security. The boat ride duration is less than 20 minutes from any of the Lagos Island locations.

While Tarkwa Bay still has a long way to go in becoming a major player as one of the amazing beach destinations to visit in the world, it is, sadly, the ‘cleanest’ of the popularly visited beaches in Lagos. The locals charge a beach entry fee of N200 that is dedicated to a daily beach clean up service and upkeep of the area, but truthfully, they need to put in a lot more effort into the cleaning and waste management.

For an additional fee of N500, you get a chair and thatched tent to call your own for the day. Packing your own food and drinks is a must. There are a few food vendors, but the effort to get a cold beverage and proper meal can take up to hours.

Beyond the activities of lying on the beach and taking in the sound of the ocean, Tarkwa Bay is the only place I know of in Lagos to surf safely. The Atlantic Ocean on our side of the world is like an angry beast that very few can safely swim in, not to talk of surfing in. Thanks to the construction of the Eko Atlantic harbor, the water flowing by the bay is calm enough for Lagosians to swim safely and for the daring, to chase the waves on surfboards. Some even take the adventure up a few notches by diving deep into the water to see the sea life of our waters.

Every Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting, Tarkwa Bay sees more tourist action than any tourist location in the entirety of Nigeria. With little pockets of N10,000 per night hotels cropping up, to a dedicated team of police officers patrolling the little island, Tarkwa Bay is a great example in showing us a little snippet of what Lagos state’s tourism could shape up to be if better structure is put in place.

Not still keen on the idea of visiting Tarkwa bay? Then you should definitely check out the short video I created attached to this post on www.guardian.ng . My friends and I went on an overnight beach stay some weeks ago for a bit of breather from the sometimes-overwhelming noise of Lagos and what we experienced was an amazing reset that was sorely needed.

We arrived on the beach a bit late at night, found our local helpers, got situated, and then ate the dinner we packed while watching the glow of fire from the bon fire we started. Watching the receding fire and its embers glow out while the steady sound of waves crashing against each other flowed around us, we found what we came to the beach for – serenity. With wide enough blankets packed, we made the sands of the beach our bed, and woke to the sun rising over the ocean and us. For security, we paid our local helper, MC Black, and he and his team made sure our time on the beach was secure and without incidents.

That, was my first time spending the night on Tarkwa bay, and it was quite difficult to get on the N300 banana boat headed towards the reality of the noisy fold of our Lagos lives.


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