Tourist Attractions in Ghana

by Kent Page McGroarty

Step back in time while visiting Ghana's historical sites, or go the eco-tourism route to explore the country's natural beauty. A coastal country on the Gulf of Guinea that borders the Ivory Coast in sub-Saharan Africa, Ghana was the first African country where Europeans traded in gold and subsequently slaves. It was also the first country to gain its independence from Great Britain. Traveling to Ghana is relatively easy as most international airlines fly to and from the international airport in Accra, the country's largest city.

Castles and Forts

Ghana's castles and forts, which stand as a reminder of the slave trade, are located in the country's central region that borders the Gulf of Guinea. Cape Coast Castle was originally built as a trading lodge in the 16th century and went through several transformations before becoming British property in 1664. Millions of slaves went through this castle before being shipped to the United States and the Caribbean. Other castles and forts close to Cape Coast Castle were also scenes of the slave trade, including Elmina Castle, which is six miles from Cape Coast, and Fort St. Jago, which is within walking distance of Elmina.

Beaches

Ghana's beaches include Labadi Pleasure Beach, the main public beach in Accra. This beach features showers, changing rooms and catering services. Kokrobite Beach is a more secluded beach 18 miles west of Labadi that features sprawling hills as a backdrop. Ada Beach, 62 miles east of Kokrobite, offers facilities for fishing, skiing and yachting. Cocoloco Beach is about an hour east of Accra where the Volta River joins the Atlantic Ocean and is a breeding ground for a variety of sea turtles. The beach also features camping and bungalow accommodations.

Wildlife Sanctuaries and Parks

Wildlife sanctuaries in Ghana include the Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary, a two-mile-long reserve within the village of Boabeng that was established in 1974 to protect the black and white Colobus and Mona monkeys. The area is also rich in butterflies. Mole National Park is the country's largest eco-tourism site, located 105 miles west of Tamale in the West Gonja District. The park features 93 mammalian species, including antelopes, buffalo and elephants, 300 bird species, 33 reptiles and nine amphibians. Kakum National Park is a conservation area located 12 miles from Cape Coast and features elephants, bongo antelopes and over 800 bird species.

Markets

The Handicraft Market is found at the Centre for National Arts and Culture next to the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra. It is the largest market for handcrafted goods in the country and features art, wood carvings, musical instruments, leather goods, gold, silver and bronze jewelry, clay items, antiques and ivory products. The Makola Market, also in Accra, is run by women traders and features fresh produce, local and imported foods, pots and pans, medicine, tools and shoes.