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The Island of Goree: A Perfect Day Trip From Dakar

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Visiting the Island of Goree is one of the best things to do in Dakar, Senegal. Just a ferry ride away from the capital, this island is the perfect spot for a day trip, or even a weekend getaway. Here is everything you need to know about visiting Goree Island.

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The History of the Island of Goree

The Island of Goree is colorful and vibrant, but has a truly sad history.

Goree Island was first discovered in 1444 by Portuguese sailors, but then was used primarily as one of hubs of the slavery transportation. The town was active in the Atlantic slave trade from 1536 until 1848, giving it its dark history.

In 1780-1874 the famous House of Slaves was built, and was one of the first buildings to be made on the island. Now the building has been turned into a museum, and is the main highlight of Goree Island.

history of Goree Island

The Island of Goree has a sad history, but is now a touristic destination from Dakar.

Where is the Island of Goree?

The small of island of Goree is located just off the coast of Dakar, the capital of Senegal. It is just a few kilometers away, making it the perfect day trip from Dakar.

where is the Island of Goree

The Island of Goree is right off the coast from Dakar.

How to Get to the Island of Goree

Goree Island is conveniently located just a short ferry ride away from the city of Dakar. In order to get here, you must take the ferry from the terminal at Gare Maritime.

ferry Dakar to Goree Island

The ferry to Goree Island can get pretty crowded, so give yourself an hour before the time you want to leave.

Parking for the Ferry Terminal

If you have a car and drive to the terminal, there is a lot right inside the ferry terminal. We went for a a few hours, and paid a 1000 CAF (a little under $2) to keep our car there. We preferred doing this, as it can be pretty hard to find parking on the streets outside the terminal. It is also safer and more convenient for the small price.

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Timetable for the Island of Goree 

Ferries run from Dakar to Goree Island every day starting from 6:15 am up until 12:45 am. They run from the island of Goree back to Dakar from 6:45 am to 1:15 am. The boats are run by just one company, and depart every 1-2 hours. The ride is 25 minutes, and you must get there an hour before departure.

The reason you must get there so early, is that the island is heavily trafficked (especially during the weekends). The line can be extremely long, so that's where the extra time comes in. We went during the weekend, so we imagine the week is probably much easier.

Hours vary a little bit daily, so check below for the full timetable:

Timetable for the Island of Goree

Here is the timetable for the ferry between Dakar and Goree Island.

How Much are Tickets to the Island of Goree?

Tickets to visit Goree Island are on a round trip fare. Prices for the ferry are 5,200 CFA (about $9 USD) for foreigners, and 2,700 CAF ($4.50 uSD) for African citizens. It is 1,500 CAF ($2.50) for those from Senegal, and 100 CAF (17 cents) for locals from the Island of Goree.

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Taking a Tour to the Island of Goree

If you'd rather make it simple, you can also alternatively take a tour to Goree island. We've found a few that you can check out below:

The Island of Goree: What to Expect

Despite the sad history of Goree, it is now a beautiful and colorful place to explore. The island is tiny, and can easily be walked in under an hour. However, despite its small size, there are plenty of things to do on the Island of Goree. 

The ferry ride is extremely pleasant with the turquoise waters surrounding, and music playing. The ferry has two decks, one that is inside with AC, and the other that is open on the top. Part of the top deck is covered, while the sides are in the sun. The sun can be pretty strong in Senegal, so keep this in mind.

ferry into Island of Goree

The ferry ride into Goree Island has two decks where you can choose the sun, shade, or AC.

The ferry is also full of locals looking for tourists to start selling to. So it's quite common for people to start chatting to you and telling you about their shop that is set up on the island. They are completely friendly and harmless, despite the fact they will definitely try to get you to promise them that you will go to their storefront.

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Things to Do on the Island of Goree

Goree Island is small, but packed with fun for a day trip. We think a full day here is the perfect getaway from the city. Here are all the ways you can enjoy the Island of Goree.

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1. Visit the House of Slaves

This is the number one reason to visit Goree Island. Here is where you can truly learn about the history behind the island, and the horrific Atlantic slave trade.

The House of Slaves is open from Tuesday to Sunday, and closed on Mondays. The hours are from 10:30 am- noon, and then again from 3 pm to 6 pm. On Fridays it opens back up at 2:30 pm instead of 3:00.

Tickets are purchased upon arrival, and are just 500 CAF (about $1 USD) for entry,

House of Slaves, Island of Goree

The House of Slaves is the main attration on the Island of Goree.

2. Browse the Local Markets

Walking around the island you will find tons of people trying to sell to you. Right when you get off the ferry there is a small market where locals sell their arts and crafts.

Head further inland, and you will also find local artists selling their art, as well as some selling small instruments. They are all extremely talented, and it is definitely worth browsing around, and supporting the local economy.

Goree Island, things to do in Dakar, Senegal
shops, island of Goree
market on Goree Island

One of the best things to do on Goree island is to check out the arts & crafts sold by the locals.

Note: The people of Goree Island live off of tourism. So if you don't look local, they will flock to you. They may seem pushy, but they are harmless. The important thing to keep in mind is that you don't promise to buy anything, but do kindly give a look and be friendly.

3. Visit the Goree-Almadies Memorial

Walk to the Southern end of the island and you'll find a truly beautiful piece of art. The tall concrete structure is a memorial for those in the slave trade. 

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In the same area you will also find a large cannon, and some stunning views from the cliffs. Here you will really be able to appreciate the beauty of the island, as well as the deep blue waters around it.

view from the Island of Goree

Right next to the memorial are some of the best views from the Island.

4. Splash Around at the Beach

One of the top reasons that locals escape to the Island of Goree on the weekends is to enjoy a day at the beach with family. As soon as you pull into the port you will find hundreds of kids and adults alike splashing around in the waters.

If you want a little more of a relaxing vibe, you can walk a bit further away from the port to the small beach of Plage des Amoureux.

Island of Goree
beach of Goree Island

Every weekend families flock to the Island of Goree to enjoy the beach.

5. Check out the IFAN Historical Museum

Right next to the Plage des Amoureux there is another small museum worth checking out. The IFAN historical museum is one of the oldest art museums in West Africa, and has several different exhibitions.

The museum is open from 10 am to 6 pm daily, except for Mondays when it is closed.

6. Indulge in the Local Seafood

One of our favorite parts of being on an island, is enjoying the delicious seafood. As soon as you step into port of Goree Island, you will find that there are plenty of restaurants lined up one after the other.

Restaurants in Goree Island

There are plenty of restaurants serving up the freshest local seafood.

Of course the closer restaurants to the port are a little pricier. We went to the one tucked away on the left side (facing the island from the pier). The prices were better, and the food was amazing. All fish is fresh, and cooked in local spices. You can dine in, or order and take the food with you to the beach.

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7. Photograph the Colorful Streets

One of the best things to do on the Island of Goree is to simply roam around and enjoy how vibrant it is. There are tons of colorful buildings, and great opportunities to take beautiful photos. We encourage you to roam around and find your own great photo opportunities.

colorful streets of Goree Island

One of the best things to do on the Island of Goree is to admire and photograph the colorful streets.

Want an organized trip to the island of Goree or a tour to learn more about it? Here are a few different options that you can choose from:

Where to Stay on the Island of Goree

Goree Island is primarily known for being a day trip from Dakar. However, you can in fact stay a night if you'd like! There are a few hotels starting from $40 USD/ night for those who want a more budget friendly stay, or even a villa with a private pool for a little under $200 USD/night.

We suggest going early in the day and coming back late in the afternoon. However, if you would like to stay a night, then we suggest to book in advance, as there are just a few options.

Just take a look at the map below for different accommodation options:
Island of Goree

The island of Goree is small, but has a few hotels if you'd like to spend a night.

Is the Island of Goree Safe?

Despite its history, Goree Island is now a very safe island. People are always trying to sell, so they may seem a little intense. But don't be worried, the locals are harmless and just trying to make a living.

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Tips for Visiting the Island of Goree

Now that you know all about how to get there, and the best things to do, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Carry Cash

Pretty much everywhere in Senegal relies solely on cash. While there are a few places you can find that take credit card in Dakar, this is not the case at all on the Island of Goree. Restaurants, shops, and even more hotels only take cash. So make sure you take out enough before visiting.

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Wear Lots of Sunscreen

The sun is very strong in Senegal, and there is a lot of open space on the island. Make sure to top up on your sunscreen so that you don't get burnt.

Support the Locals

The locals live on a very tiny island. For most of them, their only source of income in tourists, So even if you don't have interest in buying their products, have patience and let them explain about their products, You don't need to feel pressure to buy, but it's always good to at least interact and show your appreciation.

art on Goree island
art on the island of Goree

You can support the locals by simply checking out their beautiful work.

Packing for a Visit to the Island of Goree

Here are some of the things you should consider bringing to the island of Goree:

  • Sunscreen (the sun is super strong)
  • Reusable Water Bottle (we use this water bottle from Cafago because it holds the temperature)
  • Flip Flops (we personally always get Havaiana flip flops, as they are comfy and long lasting)
  • Zippered Bag or Backpack (to secure your belongings)
  • Power Bank (we use Anker power banks, as they are super long lasting and sturdy)
  • Bathing Suit
  • Drone (We use the Mavic Mini Pro 3 because it's super light and doesn't sacrifice quality)
  • Action Camera (we use the Insta 360 X3 because it's small & waterproof)
  • Case Mate waterproof Phone Pouch (we use the Cafago Waterproof Phone Pouch)
  • Cash
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Visiting the Island of Goree is one of the best things to do in Dakar, and is the perfect getaway from the city. We know you'll love this small and colorful island just like we did.

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