Surfing in Senegal
Senegal is one of the most stable democracies in Africa which attracts visitors from all over the world. The country has a laid back lifestyle and the locals are known to be super friendly and helpful with all tourists that come to visit. For the surf community the country became famous when featured in one of the most famous surf movies of all times: Endless Summer. In the movie Robert August and Mike Hynson surf the world class wave of Ngor Rights and instantly started a surf revolution in Senegal. Since then surfing started to become popular in the country and nowadays brings many surfers looking for perfect waves and small crowds. One of the best things about surfing in Senegal is that there is none of the localism that plagues other countries. The locals are mellow and all surf spots are happily shared by expats, tourists and locals.
Climate in Senegal
Like most of the countries that have a tropical climate, Senegal has two very distinguished seasons. There is a hot and humid rainy season from May to November, this is when the winds are predominant from SE. December to April is dry season with almost no rain and the winds coming from the NE (harmattan wind). The best time to surf in Senegal is during the winter (November to March). This is when the powerful N and NW swells come from the North Atlantic and hit the coast of the country. During this time of the year you can expect solid swells ranging from 2-10 ft providing good conditions for all kinds of breaks. October is known for having smaller but consistent swells ranging from 3-6 ft. Because October is at the end of the rainy season there is not so much rainfall and it could be a good option for those who are looking for some mellow waves and almost no crowds.
Best surf spots in Senegal
Most of the surf spots in Senegal are located close to the capital, Dakar. There are around 15 surf spots within walking distance of each other. The Almadies Peninsula concentrates the best surf breaks in the area. The peninsula is also the furthest point to the west in the whole continent of Africa and has one of the largest swell windows in the world. That means it receives swell from 260°, both from SE all the way around to NNE. Vivier, Secret Spot and Club Med are all found at the Almadies Peninsula. These reefs produce rights and lefts, protected from the wind. However, the waves can break in extremely shallow water, with rocks and urchins awaiting for a mistake. Further south you will find Ouakam: the most beautiful surf spot in Dakar. This is a world class wave that produces fast barrels and it's only recommended for experienced surfers. On the northern side of Dakar, the beaches of Yoff and Virage are better suited for beginners. With proper swell this beach breaks can get massive but most of the time they will have friendly waves breaking on a mellow sandy bottom. Last but not least you have Ngor Right and Left, the most famous point breaks in the country.
Meal price range
A sandwich or kebab costs around $4 USD. Midrange meals in restaurants range from $11-26 USD with beers. Dining & drinking at high-end restaurants can cost anywhere from $30-80 USD.
At popular surf spots you’ll find a scattering of places to rent surfboards and other gear. Board rentals cost anywhere from $8 USD for half day to $13-15 USD a day.
Prepaid SIM cards
There are three major companies sharing the market in Senegal. Orange, Tigo and Expresso. Orange gives you the best coverage and SIM cards can be purchased at any phone shop. Packages are anywhere from $1-20 USD for 300MB-2.5Gb.
Taxis are common and it’s pretty easy to get everywhere using one, but be sure to bargain. You'll have to haggle over prices and agree on a taxi price before getting in. Prices to get around the downtown area are around $2 USD.
Transport prices on sept-place (7 seat) taxis and other long-distance vehicles are fixed.
A 4WD with driver for the day will cost $100 USD.
You can rent a car in Dakar and drive around on your own. But there are quite a few unpaved roads so it’s best to hire a 4WD. A 1-week car rental from Dakar Airport will cost around $285 USD for a compact car and $1,000 USD for a 4WD.
$1.10 USD a liter.
Types of risks
The water can be shallow with rocks and many sea urchins close to the surface. There is no flag system in place, nor lifeguards. Check conditions and speak to local surfers to be sure.
Senegal suffers from coastal erosion, droughts, floods, and locust invasions.
How to prepare
Citizens from 59 countries can visit Senegal without a visa for up to 90 days. Your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months at time of entry and you’ll need proof of onward or return flights, as well as proof of accommodation in Senegal.
Although it's not mandatory, it’s recommended that you have been vaccinated for hepatitis A & B, yellow fever, typhoid, rabies, meningitis, polio, Tdap, chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia, influenza, measles, mumps and rubella. You’ll be asked to show proof of your yellow fever vaccination if you come from a country with a risk of yellow fever.
Things to know
Language & Currency
The main languages spoken in Senegal are Wolof and French. Quite a few people speak English, particularly the young Senegalese. Don’t expect taxi drivers or waiters to speak English however. Knowing a few key words in French or Wolof can be very useful.
The currency used in Senegal is West African Franc (CFA).
November to March are the best months for surfing with winter swells coming down from the north. The north and north west swells that arrive are 2-10ft range - giving good conditions for surfers of all levels. August to October brings smaller but steady swells in the 3-6ft range.
Checking Surf forecast
Checking the forecast about a week before your trip is always a good idea. Understanding what the waves will be like and knowing what gear to pack is essential. You can check the forecast for the waves here.
Do I need pack a pharmacy kit
You should bring a basic kit. Including ear drops, eye drops, bandaids, imodium- for rehydrating, ear plugs to avoid ear infections, gaze, alcohol, mosquito repellent and broad spectrum antibiotic ointment.
World Nomads has great travel insurance packages that are not super expensive and they cover surfing.
For an ambulance (SOS Medecins) dial 33 889 1515. Dial 18 for fire and 17 for the police.
Healthcare in Senegal is more advanced than many other African countries. However, 70% of the hospitals are found in Dakar, in rural areas you won’t find many pharmacies or services.
Check out pictures of the surf in Senegal at #surfsenegal.