Takoradi is the third largest city in Ghana in the Western region, and growing rapidly due to recent discovery of oil in the region. For the six weeks that I’m in Ghana, I’ve had the pleasure of working in Takoradi—a hidden gem that is underrated, “off the beaten path,” and certainly not as well-documented as other cities in Ghana.
When You Get There
Water Bottles vs. Water Sachets
Water sachets are popular because they are convenient, readily available and inexpensive. Costing between 10-20 pesewas a sachet (500mL), these are easily found anywhere from walking vendors and within any stalls on the streets. One can easily purchase a bag of 30 sachets (15L) for only GHc2. Although most water sachets brands are safe filtered water, they may take some time for your body to get used to. Depending on the brand, the taste of the water also may vary.
Water bottles are more expensive but safest to drink. Only purchase and drink bottles that are properly sealed and sold from well-known brands such as Voltic, Ice-Pak or AquaFil.
Taxis are the most convenient way of getting around Takoradi as they are available in abundance, safe and relatively inexpensive. There are no meters in the cars and one should try to settle on the price of the trip prior to getting into the taxi. Getting around within Takoradi should be fairly inexpensive ranging from GHc3-7 per trip. Haggling is expected, but to renegotiate the fare after you have reached your destination is considered bad manners.
Chartering a taxi to reach your weekend trip destinations will set you back a significant amount of cedis. Convenient, time-saving, and safe, this may be a preferred option for groups traveling to the destination for the first time. Most taxi drivers are willing to make the drive to the popular tourist attractions.
Planning your weekend trips that require a longer drive by getting a tro tro can save a lot of money. There are stations located all over Takoradi depending on your final destination. The tro tro is safe, quick and inexpensive though you will have to wait for the entire tro tro to fill up before the driver will leave the station (which can be anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or so). Most taxi drivers know the specific station you will need to go depending on your final destination.
For large groups of travelers, tro tros can be chartered; be sure to ask the driver and settle on a fare for the entire group prior to the trip.
Where to Eat
Similar to many parts of Ghana, restaurants are often closed at 7 p.m., which can be inconvenient especially if you are used to having dinner around 6 p.m. or so. Additionally, most restaurants are closed on Sundays, making it necessary to find alternative places to eat.
Harlem Home Cooking
A family-owned restaurant, this is one of the coziest places to have a quick lunch. Traditional Ghanaian meals are served throughout the day for as little as GHc10 (inexpensive by Takoradi standards). From jollof rice to banku, you can always find your favourite Ghanaian meal here. Service is quick and efficient; the restaurant is closed on Sundays.
Champs (Stellar Lodge)
Popular among expats and Ghanaians alike, this pub-style restaurant is open 24/7 making it a convenient place to grab a quick bite any time during the day or on any day of the week. The menu contains many Western-style dishes including sandwiches, salads, and steaks, though one can also find a selection of Ghanaian dishes (though pricier) as well. It is the perfect place to watch your favourite sports team with friends.
A gem located close to the Takoradi Market Circle, this restaurant serves a wide range of culinary concoctions, including exotic Western dishes (ratatouille, spaghetti and all sorts of French pastries) not easily found at other restaurants. The menu is reasonably priced and there is a selection of bargain dishes, which is an excellent alternative for value-conscious eaters. The food is very delicious, service is efficient and the proportion is very generous, though you will have to pay an extra cedi for a takeaway box if you don’t finish your meal. The restaurant is open every day except for Sundays.
Owned and operated by a young Ghananian entrepreneur who prides herself on creating the recipes herself, this is the place to be if you feel like splurging on dinner. Georgina (the owner) created and tested each of the recipes herself, and the menu is very diverse. At Gilou’s, you can find Chinese cooking-inspired dishes, the freshest and tastiest vegetables grilled to perfection, and all sorts of culinary creations designed to tingle your taste buds. Though quite pricey, the proportion is very generous and all the staff is very friendly.
What to Do
Takoradi is located in the Western region and has a lot of beautiful beaches nearby. The beaches are clean and as natural as it gets; the few tourists in the area ensure its natural preservation.
Takoradi is located conveniently close to several major tourist attractions. The tro tro is a safe, fun, yet inexpensive way to reach your destinations. Busua Beach is GHc 3.50 tro ride away, while Cape Coast is only GHc 4.50 away. If you are going as a big group, you can easily charter a tro tro for your group and save the cost of chartering a private taxi.
Takoradi Market Circle
The commercial and economic hub of Takoradi, this is a market that doesn’t seem to sleep. It is always bustling and busy, no matter what time of the day. The market circle is the place to find anything you might think of or need during your stay in Takoradi; food, utensils, fabrics, and stationary. Shopping at the Market Circle is an experience in itself, and one must come prepared to bargain and weave in and out the stalls and make your way amidst the throngs of vendors and hawkers. Any form of banking (currency conversion, cash withdrawals, etc) can be done at the Market Circle as it is home to a number of bank branches.
There are a number of grocery stores around the market where you will be able to find your favourite brands. Not all grocery stores are fully stocked at all times, so you might be making multiple trips to find your desired item.
Where to Work
Vodafone Internet Café
This Internet café is the place to be if you need to get work done. You can bring your own laptop or use one of the many available computers with access to high-speed WiFi for as little as GHc 1.80 per hour. The Internet café is air-conditioned, and has printers (though no scanners or photocopiers), which are reasonably priced at GHp 30 per sheet.