Weekend travel hack: Beach camping in Lagos 101
I have always thought that the idea of sleeping outside on a beach, with the roaring ocean to one side and a starry blanket of deep blue sky above, was so very exciting. I mean think about it: that’s an image you can conjure from many scenes in novels and films alike. It may be that the reason I decided to go and fulfil this childhood dream of sleeping out on a beach, is because of the very serious situation our country Nigeria is in at the moment.
With an Acting President occupying Aso Rock, a currency down the toilet, 7 different exchange rates to confuse the issue, and corruption fighting back, now is the time to find your peace wherever makes sense. Most preferably closer to home. This is where once more your weekend can be immensely useful, spend it unwinding by spending a night at the beach.
Typically, in Lagos, going to the beach is a very fancy affair with speedboats heading to faraway private beach homes on the shores of Ilashe, but those are often expensive and a lot more fuss is made that should ever be about visiting the beach. Beach camping as an alternative is a holiday that focuses on unplugging from the world at large and living a simple village life while experiencing Nature. Jaybee’s Beach Camp, is conveniently located at Takwa where it overlooks the waters of the bay and the Atlantic Ocean and I stumbled upon this simple yet delightful beach camp on a prior visit to Takwa. It gave me the confidence boost I needed (it was clean, had some decent number patrons on that Saturday who liked it, and was in a fenced secure space right by the police boat stationed at the bay. Let’s be honest, in a place like Lagos, it is important to consider security at any overnight location, as sleeping on the beach may be romantic, but getting robbed is not at all.
Getting to the beach camp is easy, hire a banana boat at approximately N1,000 a head to Takwa or get into someone else’s for N500 and you can get this boat from the Walter Carrington Jetty or at the ferry service that runs on the weekend from opposite the Nigerian Law school (Under the Falomo Bridge) on the weekends. The best time to get to the beach would be during the day, even if you are doing an overnight trip. In fact, the ultimate weekend hack is to spend almost two full days at the beach and just one night, arrive by 1:00 or 2:00pm on one day and leave at 4:00pm or 5:00pm the next. We travelled a little later and arrived at the beach just a few minutes after 5pm. This gave us enough time to have a beer, drop off our things in the chalet/cabin and then head out to lighthouse beach to catch the setting sun and frolic in the waves. It honestly felt like being free, only that we had not realized until that moment we realized we would still catch a glimpse of the holding dock area, where mighty ships dock and the Atlantic Ocean is always pulsing in defiance to the angry ocean spray.
I chose to visit the beach camp with my brothers on a Friday night, because the rates for staying overnight on a weekday are much better(cheaper) than staying overnight on the weekend. The camp offers two sleeping options: (1). A regular room (sleeps a maximum of 3 people and costs N20k for the room) or (2). A Chalet (one of 3 which sleep a maximum of 6 and overlook Lighthouse beach. They cost N40,000 a night on the weekdays and N60,000 a night on the weekends). Now the Idea of a chalet may seem pricey, but remember it’s what they call ‘Glamping’ (Glamorous Camping) and should be considered as an occasional get-away. Also, I advise going with a group of six to minimise the cost impact and maximise the fun, because out there, you only have each other.
After arriving at our destination and settling in to our chalet we headed out to the bar for a drink. To be fair it’s more of a small cafe that clearly doesn’t get much traffic on a weekday night. They have four main items on the menu ranging from N1,000-N3500- (for a chicken Kebab) which places the price point a bit on the glamorous side as the beer also costs N1,000…for a can. Pause for a minute. I therefore advise that if you are coming, make sure you bring plenty of supplies because it’s not only allowed, it is encouraged. There was another group of campers there on the night we were there who had gone out fishing earlier and so came back with their coolers of drinks and fish and had a jolly good BBQ. That made me so jealous.
On of the nicest things about the camp which impressed me a lot, was how clean and well-equipped the place was. The chalets are a simple, elegant wooden cabin with one large room, a viewing platform and a toilet and shower (which can be found conveniently underneath the viewing platform at the base of the chalet. Inside, I found laid two well-made double inflatable beds, two folding cushion chairs (which could be stretched out and arranged into one double bed or two single’s), and a single folding mattress. The room has wide open windows on all sides, with wire mesh to keep out the mosquitoes.
The cabin also holds a few more essentials for your outdoor adventure: Towels are provided along with a large jug of fresh water, pots, kettle, bbq tongs (and other implements), insecticide, cups and cutlery.
There is an attached shower and toilet underneath the stilts where they have clean running water. This gorgeous little hideaway also comes with a bbq stand attached so that if you bring your own fish/kebabs, they can be roasted/cooked (there’s also a fire pit complete with cooking pots and crockery at a corner of the cabin). They seem to have thought of everything so you only need to bring yourself and some fun. Do note that this is a CAMPING mini-holiday so things will not be overtly lavish and so if you are expecting a resort, you will be disappointed.
Having said that, if you have never tried camping before and are a bit concerned about what the experience might be like for you, remember this is pretty fancy camping and there are a few members of staff nearby to help you out. The trick is to be as prepared as possible, and take essentials you might need. We had a lovely night chatting and bonding and the next day headed out to the bay to swim before leaving Takwa on Saturday afternoon.
So, if you’re looking for adventure to lift you out of the gloom, or maybe you just want to try something out of the usual Lagos weekend activities (clubs and weddings), then i suggest you give beach camping a try. It just might become your guilty retreat and even if it doesn’t, you still will never know until you try. Remember the weekend is about being in the moment. Carpe diem! Until next time!