Liberia is a country that deserves more of the spotlight, not only for all it has to offer, but also for its role in black history. Often overshadowed by Ghana, Senegal or even Nigeria, the country is just as worthy of a visit. Travel influencer Royda Urey, aka Philmena, has explored the country far and wide. We caught up with her to get her insight on how travellers can explore Liberia like a local.
The West African republic, which borders Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, is the only black state in Africa that wasn’t subject to colonial rule and is the continent’s oldest republic. It was founded in 1821 by a group of free black enslaved and emancipated people from the United States who settled in the country.
In addition to its rich history, the country is filled with beautiful scenery – including palm trees along its coastline and waterfalls, dreamy friendly locals ready to welcome you with open arms, and of course, plenty of authentic cuisine to make your taste buds dance. If you’re ready to experience Liberia like a local, here are Urey’s top suggestions.
Where to stay
Urey says the Royal Grand Hotel is a great option for those who want to stay in the country’s capital, Monrovia, and get a glimpse of the city. It has a trendy outdoor bar area and a full-service spa. If you’re heading to the coast, Nana’s Lodge Beach Resort is an excellent option for accommodation. You’ll always be steps away from the beach, no matter what. Libassa Ecolodge and RLJ Kendeja are also high on their list.
Must see and do
First and foremost, immerse yourself in the history and deep connection between Liberia and the United States. To see where the first successful settlers landed, head to Providence Island. There are talks to make it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To really experience Liberia like a local, you’ll want to visit one of the many waterfalls. According to the influencer, Kpatawee Waterfalls – just 3 hours outside the capital – is the place to be. Don’t forget your swimsuit, or even a picnic basket, as you’ll definitely want to take a dip and just admire its beauty. A trip to Robertsport, a vibrant surf and beach community, is also a must.
Where to eat
Indulging in the cuisine of any destination is the best way to connect authentically. Participate in local customs to get a real feel for daily life. While Liberia has its fair share of delicious local cuisine, there are a few top spots that stand out to Urey: Dumboy Valley in Monrovia and Terra Cotta in Congo Town.
“You must try dumboy & pepper soup as well as our grilled whole fish with rice or attiéké while in Liberia,” she shares. “Dumboy is our national dish. It is made with boiled cassava that has been pounded and you combine it with pepper soup.”