A day’s trip to my favourite local tourist spot
Hello once again, if you are reading for the first time welcome! If you are returning, I must admit to being very pleased that my rambling thoughts on weekend delights and philosophy have captured your interest. Thank you!
As a brief introduction to the weekend adventure, let me say that my first interaction with the newspaper (or the earliest I can possible remember) was in watching my parents discuss an article they had just read in a newspaper. The oscillation between laughter and severity as they discussed comments made by officials of government and the reality of how people in our communities felt on a daily basis was quite an interesting one.
There was no electricity, we had bad roads we had riots periodically going to school and robberies and attacks were pretty common occurrences. That was as true for me then as a young girl back in the early 90’s, as it is for me now as a young woman in 2017 as I seem to be facing the exact same issues.
One of my earliest memories is also of visiting Bar Beach with my Mother and Aunties. We spent the day enjoying the wind in our hair and chasing the rolling tides. I cannot tell you what year it was but i can tell you that my impression of the day was mostly of the emotions felt: we were always happy and laughing. I then remember small details, like buying slippers and sun hats. I remember seeing other families out at the Bar Beach where it was rolling sand far out into the water.
It was this memory of Bar Beach that took me out to Tarkwa Bay in Lagos almost five years ago for the first time. It is probably this memory that takes me back now. In Lagos, beaches are the easiest tourist destinations to visit for a Lagosian or tourists and this is important in my opinion for two simple reasons: (1) Tourists bring money to various communities; and (2) They are a fun day out for any group of friends or family and will leave you feeling like you’ve had a mini-holiday.
Tarkwa Bay is a convenient location to visit because it can be reached by ferry or banana boat in approximately 5- 20 mins (depending on the speed of the boat you are in), that is if you are travelling from Lagos Island, Victoria Island or Lekki Phase 1. Now let me stop here to say that i have always loved large bodies of water: pools, lakes, rivers and Oceans. So sea sickness is not something I have experienced (with the exception of one mild hangover day) but if you have never been on water or if you have a fear of large bodies of water, the journey may experience a bit of fright. In that case, i suggest trying a reputable boat operator or ferry service as there are a handful that regularly run the routes. It costs between N2,000 and N3,000 for ride on a ferry or speed boat.
The ferries are usually modestly-clean, well-equipped with life jackets and large enough, so the waters do not feel as choppy and so minimises your chances of getting sea sick. Hopefully.
The banana boats and speed boats to be honest are more for the adventurers. You will feel the waves and occasionally be concerned about capsizing. Please, make sure the operator has enough life jackets for everyone as required by law. And honestly, in a country where the craziest things sometimes happen, trust me you want to make sure everyone has a life jacket because when a person is drowning they will try to use you as a floatation device and in their panic could drown you as well.
Once you arrive at the mouth of the Bay, the boat will maneouvre itself to the shallowest spot for passengers to disembark. At this point i advise you put all loose objects into your back pack or bag (phones, slippers/flip-flops, wallets etc.) to avoid losing them or getting them wet.
Upon arrival at Tarkwa Bay, there is a N200 entry fee that the locals charge per head and they say it is to help keep the beach clean and a portion of which is paid to the Local Council as tax. I cannot confirm the current charge but I can however say that on my last visit of on January 28, 2017, the beach had been recently cleaned even if you could still see the occasional ‘Pure water’ bag making its way along the waves interspersed with suspicious looking polyethylene bags. Let me pause at this point and beg you all to stop throwing your thrash in the Lagoon/Ocean.
Once on the beach, there is then the question of “Where on the beach should i sit?” If you enjoy swimming in natural bodies of water, I always suggest walking down to the very end of the opening of the bay. Again let me say because Tarkwa Bay has rock walls carving a calm bay out of the Atlantic Ocean, it is an ideal place to swim. The waves are at best mild and the water quite warm all year round. Deciding where to sit is also a decision largely in your hands. You can show up with a mat/large towns and a beach umbrella and create your own spot near the waves. Or you could pay one of the local canopy renters for a spot underneath one of theirs at N1,000 for just the canopy. Chairs are charged separately at N500 each *side eye*. Personally I carry towels and cloths to sit on the floor.
Visiting the beach is about enjoying nature at its finest. The bright yellow sun above, and the cool calm bay ahead. Vendors selling little trinkets, drinks and snacks and Local vendors who can organise sticks of Suya (usually the goats running around) or procure a BBQ stand for you to roast your meat or fish you brought to the island. Of course for a fee, fish can be procured also. If you take a stroll through this large Island, you will find a village tucked away behind, railroad tracks leading to almost nowhere, and the lighthouse beach where the Atlantic Ocean rushes to the shore in beautiful tumbles of blue ocean and sea foam. Your senses will feel alive and sated here.
I particularly enjoy watching the local children play with their hand made body-boards and a few who have now learned to surf like Gods Power (Who also runs a surf school out at the bay now) as they take to the waves in a way only someone born to water can. If water sports aren’t your thing, the trick to any great beach day out is to take a small backpack with books, food and any entertainment you think you might need while you’re out there. But truly if you pick the right group of fun-loving individuals or family members to visit the beach with, you won’t be short of jokes, games and laughter. And isn’t that what the weekend is all about?
A massive underrated advantage to going to the beach is that not only does the beach benefit you, it benefits the local community and helps to re-distribute wealth while creating a thriving tourist community. And how does it benefit you? Well, we are all made up of communities. Lagos is just a series of connected communities so if one does well, it has a knock on effect on the others. As a result of the patronage this small community at Tarkwa receive, and in the few years i have visited, I’ve experienced the growth in individuals I consider my neighbours and friends. They in turn have broadened their horizons as their little bay on Inagbe Island has attracted a huge mix of visitors from all parts of Nigeria and beyond. In response to the consistent interest in this tiny bay, Lagos State have a police boat stationed right at the mouth of the bay, ensuring a much safer environment.
We keep talking about job creation being up to the government. It’s not. Not really. Helping private citizens like MC Black or Godspower or Lucky is the best way to create jobs in communities. And all of us can directly affect this by making conscious choices in how we choose to relax over any given weekend. Now I will stop here and let you think about this for a weekend or two and encourage you to visit if you have not yet. You will be pleasantly surprised. So until the next weekend review where I just might tell you about the overnight beach camping experience in Lagos: Carpe Diem and don’t let go!