Senegal is colorful, lively, artistic, musical, and poetic. The people are warm and friendly and the food is a marvelous fusion of French cooking techniques and West African ingredients. Not many people have Senegal on their travel itinerary but it is a common layover stop for flights coming to and from the US and Europe to other African cities. If you find yourself laid over in Dakar for at least a day, you can find a wonderful slice of Senegalese life on Gorée Island.
Gorée lies a short 20 minute ferry ride from the Liaison Maritime Dakar-Gorée ferry terminal in Dakar. The ferry docks in front of a small beach that is ringed with outdoor restaurants that are perfect for catching a taste of the seafood that Senegal is so well known for. The island itself is small and because no vehicular traffic is allowed on it, it is very walkable. The colorful stone buildings with terracotta roofs make up the town area. As you walk towards the center of the island, it gets hillier and when you reach the top, you have wonderful views of the ocean and Dakar in the far horizon. The island is an artists’ colony – there is art on display on any surface that it can be placed on or hung on – pops of color and creative West African designs everywhere!
Gorée Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site and its most famous cultural landmark is the Maison des Esclaves (House of Slaves) where slaves were held captive before being loaded on ships bound for the New World.