For Yodit Eklund, the 26-year-old designer behind Bantu swimwear, the beaches along Africa’s West Coast are a source of inspiration — so she photographed her recent collection there (including the suits above, on the road to Assinie-Mafia in Ivory Coast). She wonders why ‘‘some of the best beaches in the world’’ are surfed only by locals. Here, Eklund’s favorite spots.
Dakar, Senegal The beaches in and around Senegal’s capital are a boater and surfer’s paradise. From the city, it’s only a 10-minute ferry ride to Île de N’Gor, an island with world-class breaks. (It was one of the stops in “The Endless Summer.”) For lessons, check out the N’Gor Island Surf Camp, a rustic inn popular with surfers.
Kribi, Cameroon Kribi is known for the break at Tara Plage, but surfing is only one reason to visit. Close by are the Lobé waterfalls, where fresh water falls directly into the Atlantic. Stay at Hotel Ilomba, nestled in a tropical garden along a sandy beach. If you’re feeling ambitious, head a few hours north to Limbe, where black sand beaches come courtesy of Mount Cameroon, an active volcano.
Azuretti, Ivory Coast This quaint community is known for its expert fishermen, who charge the morning waves in pirogues, or flat-bottom canoes. In the afternoon, you can watch the fishermen’s children surf on planks of wood — or anything they can find that floats. “No one knows the ocean better,” Eklund says. La Maison de la Lagune offers charming beach bungalows.
Assinie-mafia, Ivory Coast Eklund’s all-time favorite beach — “the St. Tropez of West Africa,” she says — is east of Abidjan, between the ocean and a lagoon. It’s accessible only by canoe or private boat. Among mostly private beach chalets sits the Coucoué Lodge, a waterfront hotel with a fun nightclub. A few miles further down the coast is a remote surf spot near the Ghana border known locally as Mami Wata. You have to cross two lagoons by canoe to get there, but when you’re surrounded by nothing but mangroves and ocean, Eklund says, you’ll feel like the only person on earth.