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Often described as The Gambia's 'jewel' beach resort Kotu Beach has that perfect combination of white sands, warm turquoise seas, things to see and do and great places to eat. Kotu Beach itself is one of those idyllic long beaches of powdery white sands the perfect destination for those who love the sunshine and just want to escape from the town or city.
If you are the ultimate beach bum then this is the place for you the sun beds are easily accessible and should you require anything there are plenty of vendors wandering up and down the beach selling everything from refreshing drinks to sun hats and anything else you can imagine. And don't worry the vendors are not generally pushy should you not want to buy from them they will simply walk on and leave you in peace.
Kotu Beach enjoys a sub-tropical climate, with year-round hot weather and lots of sunshine. There is very little difference in the temperature from month to month, however, the best time to visit Kotu is from November to May, which is the dry season. July sees the start of the rainy season, which runs until October. Hot and humid August is the wettest month of the year making Kotu Beach an ideal place to visit during the UK winter months.
The seas around the beaches are warm and inviting but swimmers should pay close attention to the warning flags that are displayed on the beach. Water sports are readily available for the active holidaymaker including windsurfing and body boarding.
Don't be fooled by all those pictures of unspoilt beaches, however there is plenty to do should you choose Kotu Beach as your holiday destination. There is a craft market, an 18-hole golf course, opportunities for fishing excursions and lots of natural gardens and wildlife nearby.
To the east of the Kotu Beach hotels are the fabulous wetlands of Kotu Creek where you will find a great variety of exotic birds making this area popular with ornithologists. Many different birds can be seen here both resident and migratory. For those who are not experts but just curious the popular bird watching safaris are a must. Nearby is the Bijilo Forest Park - a lush tropical reserve that can be visited for the scenic walking trails or to check out the wide variety of wildlife, birds and foliage. The Abuko Nature Reserve is famous for its crocodiles, you can also spot monkeys, chimpanzees, mongooses and warthogs at Abuko.
For all of you who love to shop there is a great craft market that has a wide range of souvenirs on offer. The colourful and lively Kotu craft market has a huge selection of traditional art and handicrafts, woodcarvings, batiks and tie-dyes, silver work and other jewellery - be advised that bartering is considered the norm here.
Kotu Beach restaurants really are quite something and should be taken advantage of. Authentic Gambian food is on the menu naturally. Many of the hotels along Kotu Beach have beach sidebars and cafes that hold evening barbecues and buffets. This is where you get to eat all the delicious 'catch of the day' fresh seafood as well as spicy Gambian specialities; why not try the 'benechin stews,' which are made of fish or chicken, rice and groundnut sauce? You will also find lots of delicious dishes from other West African countries but there is also other world food on offer such as Italian, Chinese or Mexican if you prefer.
Cars can be hired for those who wish to see more of the area but even better for the more active bikes are available to hire. Cycling is a great way to explore the area. For those preferring a more leisurely way to explore their surroundings there are some great river cruises on offer. You will be able to see the mangrove creeks and marvel at all the local flora and fauna. You can also see many traditional riverside villages, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, James Island is a popular tourist attraction.
For those who want to experience the bustle of the city the capital, Banjul is a vibrant city with rich histories. There is a busy harbour, and lots of great markets and shops. Other cities to visit include the busy and lively Serekunda. For those wishing to experience African culture at a slower pace the traditional fishing village of Tanji is the perfect choice.
You can choose from one of the many organized tours or if you prefer you can hire a local guide and organise your own trips to suit your own schedule.
You can fly to The Gambia from most of the UK airports but this needs checking as flights are irregular particularly during the rainy season. On arrival at Banjul Airport taking a taxi is the recommended way to get to your accommodation.