Monrovia Travel Guide

Monrovia beaches © jbdodane

Coming out of a decade of civil war, Liberia is beginning to find its footing again; nowhere is this more evident than its capital, Monrovia. Founded in 1817 as a colony for emancipated African-American slave, the city is both the financial heart of Liberia and an important port on the West African coast.

The centre of Monrovia is a typical tropical city, with wide streets lined with palm trees and informal merchants, and paint-chipped buildings making up most of the sights. There are a few attractions worth seeing, including the Waterside Market, the oldest Masonic Lodge in Africa, and the National Museum of Liberia; the Centennial Pavilion gives a sense of how much respect Liberians have for their history, and is worth a visit.

One of Monrovia's top attractions is located about 90 minutes from the city; Monkey Island had a sinister beginning, founded as a lab to conduct medical experiments on chimpanzees, however the experiments have long stopped and the chimps continue to be cared for. 'Monkey Island' is a bit of a misnomer, as the facility is set on six small islands, however visitors who make an appointment can ride with the caretakers and interact with the chimpanzees.

There are also plenty of beaches around Monrovia, most notably ELWA Beach near the airport, Thinkers, and Ce Ce Beach. Facilities are spotty however, and swimmers should get local advice on where the safest areas are.

Tourism in Monrovia is on the rise, thanks in part to cruise ship traffic, and infrastructure is gradually improving. A good, if limited, selection of restaurants and bars pepper the downtown area, and the locals are generally friendly and welcoming to all visitors.

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