White Sands: A staycation in Ghana

My favorite Tripadvisor review of White Sands describes the resort like this: “decor is shabby chic and a bit rustic, but don’t worry, it’s luxurious.”

Self-titled, “Ghana’s most exclusive beach resort,” at prices ranging from 908 to 1,498 EUROS a night (breakfast, dinner, & tax included), two words I don’t want to hear are shabby & rustic.

Somehow, this luxury resort had avoided our radar until just a few weeks ago when we told a friend we were staying in Accra for our October Break. Her and her family love relaxing at White Sands for day trips, but the night rates are too steep for them. Us too.

But to be perfectly honest, the second I heard there are rooms to rent in Ghana that cost 1,498 euros a night, I desperately wanted to see them, even if I knew I’d never be sleeping in them.

Almost afraid to ask, I called the resort to inquire about prices for a day pass. I think I audibly sighed with relief when they told me entrance fees were 110 cedis (20 euros) per person.

With that information, we booked a car for the day and at 7 am on a Thursday morning, started our drive to White Sands. Only 55 km (34 miles) away, the drive takes about an hour and a half thanks to the crazy traffic that plagues Accra. A few missed turns and some retraced miles later, we arrived shortly before 9 o’clock.

Our first greeting at White Sands was indeed shabby & rustic. A storm had passed through the day before, and despite nearly a dozen workers strolling about, they must not have had the time to finish cleaning the place up. Bright paint and tropical flowers greeted us everywhere we looked…so did a hot mess of leaves and a lack of plumbing.

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It was strange, the outdoor areas were charming, but clearly the indoors had seen better days. That said, we had come for a beach/pool day, so the indoors didn’t matter much – except when I wanted to use the bathroom and wash my hands. Thank God for hand sanitizer.

The pool itself is set in a stunning oasis: palm trees, green grass, tropical flowers. Incredibly enough, we had the place to ourselves, which meant we had our choice of the six loungers they chose to cushion.

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But it was a very different view you got depending on where you stood. From down below, the resort looked gorgeous. From up above, you got the view (and occasional smell) of the fishing community below.

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From a distance, the fishing communities give off a festive scene – so many people working together. But up close, you see the havoc and litter that seems to be an inevitable side product. A common enough occurrence, worldwide, but one that contrasts with White Sands’ claim of “miles of unspoilt virgin beaches.”

It’s true, their facilities are lovely. The blue & yellow lounge chairs contrast brilliantly with the palm trees and the white-ish sand. And while their beach is a relaxing place to sit back and have a fresh (albeit sweet) cocktail, you couldn’t have paid me to swim in the water.

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Which made getting to the beach itself a little tricky. The resort is separated from the beach by the Kako Lagoon. To cross, you take a quick ride on their raft. From the resort side, it’s simple…you step onto the raft from the dock. The beach side, however, requires a walk through trash-strewn water or a piggyback ride. Neither option was particularly appealing.

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Near the end of our stay, my curiosity got the better of me and I wandered a bit more around the grounds. The staff were incredibly friendly and happy to show me a room. I didn’t take any photos, but I can assure you the rooms were rather normal. Clean, if a little dark. Spacious, if a little sparse. With the grounds outside as stunning as they are, I could easily see someone paying a few hundred dollars to spend the night, but that’s a far cry from 908 to 1,498 euros.

However, as we were leaving, the staff was showing around an actual prospective overnighter. And we were surprised to hear rather different amounts being listed: 500 euros a night for the suites, 1,000 euros for the chalets. Quite a price decrease, but still over-valued. Who knows, maybe you can negotiate?

We left the resort at 3:30, eager to return home for dinner and a movie – a perfect end to our staycation. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful setting for our day off. And honestly, we felt incredibly relaxed after a day of swimming, lounging, and reading.

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But I have to echo my friend’s advice: White Sands is a perfect place to spend the day, not the night.

PS White Sands has an odd rule about not allowing cameras into the resort. You’re allowed to take as many photos on your phone as you’d like, but Chandler’s polaroid was confiscated (and promptly returned when we left). I kept my Fujifilm X20 in my purse the whole day, so these photos were all taken on my old iPhone 5S!

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