Condé Nast Traveller Middle East
A childhood in Dakar’s Yoff fishing village helped inspire Thiaw, a former competitive surfer, to dedicate himself to removing plastic from his beloved local beaches. Years of grassroots clean-ups followed, as well as the expansion of Copacabana Surf Village, a groovy beachside hangout made from natural materials including bamboo and local wood, which houses a surf school, lounge and Dakar’s only zero-waste restaurant. Thiaw is the founding member and president of the Senegalese branch of the Surfrider Foundation, a Malibu-based environmental group dedicated to keeping our oceans clean.
“The quality of surf in Senegal is on a par with California and Australia but we are so under the radar. Kayar, 36 miles north of Dakar, is a favourite spot – it’s still quite unknown, but has both a reef break and a beach break which produces a really rideable wave. The conditions are best from September to December, and there’s a hostel where you can get great post-surf snacks.”
“Yoff is where my heart is. The village is right on the beach, with an island just in front. You can smell the fresh-cooked fish on the sea breeze. As a kid I’d surf its waves on a piece of wood with a crazy smile on my face all day. The area is still a source of joy for me.”
“Visitors have to go to the House of Slaves on Gorée Island – a museum and memorial to the Atlantic slave trade. Our past was traumatic but it is important to understand what happened and to appreciate how things are now.”
“In the evenings, I’ll head to the restaurant at Noflaye Beach on the Corniche. Unlike a lot of the French and Lebanese restaurants, it’s Senegalese owned and has a really fun local vibe. Afterwards,
friends and I will dance to Afrobeats and hip-hop till the small hours at Soleil Café just next door. A lot happens on the sand in Dakar, including outdoor summer concerts at the Monaco and
Ngor beaches.” @copacabanasurfvillage