Monday, 10 December 2012


Kokrobite beach
Arriving from the calm of Barbara’s Village, Big Milly’s was a jolt to the senses. The drumming workshop could be heard before we entered the gates: no surprise, considering the large group of rastas banging away, surrounded by a crowd of white backpackers all playing at being a rasta. Dreadlocks, tie-die t-shirts and fisherman’s pants: the familiar uniform of the gap year student.     

The courtyard was overflowing with market stalls and sellers, people walking through to the beach, and 4x4s – evidence of its glowing reputation among expats. As we were shown to the reception, we passed a big screen showing the English Premier League. A big cheer went up as Man Utd scored a last-minute winner against City – I was beginning to think that Big Milly’s wasn’t my kind of place. 

Amid all the commotion, Hannah and I did what all sensible creatures do – we hid. Our small room in the gardens, set back from the action, had two chairs and a table outside, so we sat and read our books. I felt a little middle-aged for not embracing the vibe and whipping out the bongos, but I would have stood out like Prince Charles at a rave.

A stall at Big Milly's
As dusk fell, though, the weekend crowds drifted away and the attraction of the award-winning resort became clear. A terrace bar overlooks the beach, where the souvenirs stall owners were packing up while the fishermen tidied up their nets for the day. Peace descended, and as the candles lit up the resort’s restaurant, Big Milly’s assumed a renewed charm. It may not have been the ‘love at first sight’ that many reviews insist is unavoidable, but the place was growing on me.

The restaurant
The attraction became yet stronger that night when Hannah called from the outdoor shower: a large fruit bat, eating a banana just behind our hut. We watched her feast until she flew off into the night.

Early Monday morning, Kokrobite beach looked similar to any other fishing resort along Ghana’s coast, a gentle hum of activity as people began their days. I walked down to the water, which was remarkably free of litter for such a popular beach. I made my way to the rocks further on – despite being 35, I still can’t resist looking for crabs in rock pools.

A man squatted on the rocks above me. I waved, and was surprised when he frowned at me; not a typically Ghanaian response. At that point I realised this part of the beach doubled as the al fresco toilet. I left him to it and headed for breakfast (after washing my hands very thoroughly).

While Big Milly’s dominates the beach scene in Kokrobite, there is a village just behind. That afternoon, we wandered up the steep track to explore. Tourism has certainly made its mark: every other building was a restaurant or guesthouse, in varying states of repair and completion, but they are all overshadowed by the glitz of the star attraction.

Thirsty in the afternoon heat, we called in at a small shack. The overpowering scent of dope should have warned us what to expect: a rasta bar, and we were the only ones without the ubiquitous dreads-and-vest look. The smiling owner took our drink orders, and a man wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt and smoking a massive joint stumbled over.

“Hi”, he drawled, sitting next to us. “I am the King of Tanzania, but have left my kingdom to see more of my homeland, Africaaah!”

I smiled and nodded awkwardly, the standard British response in such situations. By the time we had finished, he was asleep in the corner, joint still smoking away. It was a fitting image to take away from Kokrobite. 

Football on the beach

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