Cotonou - Post Report Question and Answers

What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

A number of decent resorts outside town. In the north, safaris. - Aug 2018

Songhai organic farm in Porto Novo. - Oct 2015

Take a canoe trip around Ganvie, day trip to Oidah, spend a weekend at Bab's Dock. There are many restaurants on the beach where you can rent a cabana and spend the day. In January go to Grand Popo for the annual baby sea turtle release. - Jun 2015

Some of the beach restaurants are passable, and some hotels have a pool. The Livingstone, a restaurant in the Haie Vive neighborhood is an expat standby. However, be prepared to make a lot of your own fun at home. - Aug 2014

There's not a whole lot to do. There's no mall, no movie theatre, and no public parks. People spend a lot of time at the beach, although the undertow is dangerous, so most don't swim. A few local hotels have decent swimming pools. One hotel has tennis courts and a nine-hole golf course. People gather at restaurants and other people's homes. Some trek up north to the game park for a long weekend, but you need to adjust your expectations of an African safari - this is not Kenya. There are a few comfortable (but not luxurious) beach hotels within a two- or three-hour drive. Ouidah, about an hour away, has some sites and museums that tell of the region's slave trade history. You can take a boat to visit Ganvie, a village on stilts. As of recently, there is a direct flight to South Africa, so people are starting to go there for vacation---but it's expensive, around $1,000 roundtrip. - May 2013

Sports at the rec clubs, restaurants, expat house parties, beach, pool, lake. Rinse and repeat. - Mar 2013

We do a good bit of home entertaining or meet in groups at restaurants. The beach in town is dodgy, polluted, and has dangerous surf. Most of the expats go to the beach about 12 Km west of Cotonou where it’s cleaner and the surf less dangerous. Many embassies and organizations lease beach huts in this area for their exclusive use. These huts are a pleasant place for a group to grill, swim and pass a pleasant weekend afternoon. Bab’s Dock, a day resort a few more kilometers down the beach road, is a restaurant and dock on an inland lagoon. Bab’s dock features swimming and various water toys for the kids. A drive of about an hour will get you to the beach hotel called Casa del Papa which has clean rooms, a nice pool, and a Putt-Putt course.

For history and culture there is Ouida, a town about an hour’s drive from Cotonou. Ouidah was a large slave trading center between the 15th and 19th centuries, and has an interesting museum in an old Portuguese fort. Ouidah was is also a center of traditional African religion that was exported to the new world as Voodoo. The Snake Village and Voodoo Center are a must see in Ouidah. Ganvié, the “Venice of Africa” is an interesting day trip from Cotonou. Ganvié is a city on stilts on the north side of Lac Nokoué. Getting to and around Ganvié is possible only be boat. The Marina Hotel has a poorly maintained executive golf course which is better than no golf at all. The course has a good teaching pro, but offers no equipment or supplies. You’ll need to have your own clubs and bring balls, tees, and gloves with you. - Dec 2011

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