We are a well travelled family of four (children aged 8 and 5) we usually favour independent holidays with more to offer than just laying around the pool!! We decided to book a package deal as we wanted to stay in one resort and not travel around too much.
The Gambia appealed as there seemed to be lots to do and see and we weren't disappointed, we had a great 10 days and squeezed in plenty, we were sad to leave as there was still so much we could have done! Here is a little information about our holiday.
Flights: We booked with Thomas Cook, Flight time is approx 5hrs 40mins, outward bound we had films (need to buy headphones or adapter) Homeward bound no entertainment. We pre ordered food, would probably get a sandwich from the airport on the way out next time but food back was fine.
Hotel: The location is a little out the way of the main strip (Senegambia) it is located on a beach and has about 8 or so restaurants nearby. A nice area if you want a bit of peace and quiet. If you war a more lively area with a much larger choice of restaurants then a cab to the strip cost about 200 dalassi each way. The hotel is small and friendly and safe and we were happy for there kids to have a bit of in dependancy and go off to play, pop to the room etc. The hotel staff were friendly and the grounds well maintained There was a swing and slide area that my kids used daily. The pool has a children's area but my 2 tended to use the small round dip pool.
We went B&B as there are so many places to eat!! Breakfast was good but got a samey, the menu was the same daily. We ate once at the hotel and weren't impressed!
Remember 5 star in Africa is more like 3 or 4 star elsewhere.
Rooms:Yes the rooms in place need a little care and attention but this is Africa and if you see where and how the locals live then this is luxury in comparison. We had a premium suite as we had kids. The suite was plenty big enough.We had a separate room and the kids were on a sofa bed. We had 2 TV's (limited channels, but who goes on holiday to watch TV??) Fridge with mini bar (beers about £1, soft drinks less) Hairdryer in bathroom. Hot water from a powerful shower, miniature shampoo and body wash,A/C and plenty of storage. If you ned the room sprayed for mozzies then you can ask at reception…we just used the spray in the room which nearly killed us let alone the mozzies!!!The electric does go out frequently on the island but the hotel has a back up generator that kicks in within minutes. Internet access is available but intermittent, in the lobby there is a better signal.
Our room was (804) was cleaned by Lamin who was very attentive, we had petals on our bed every morning and nothing was too much trouble. We tipped him 500 dalassi. (Lamin mis the name given to the 1st born son).
Gambian People; In general the people are warm and friendly, they rely on the tourists for money and yes you will get hassled from day one, be strong but friendly, they want to help and they want to earn some money. We felt a little intimidated at first and it is a bit irritating when you just want to go for a walk on your own! don't say later cos they will remember you!
Tours/Tour guides:We had carl following us from day one and felt obliged to have a trip with him but were a bit hesitant, we then met a lovely English lady: Moya at our hotel that has gone into business with a local man Sam and booked a tour with them. Moya was out for charity/holiday and I invited her along…we would totally recommend them for tours..The name is Samoy tours we felt very comfortable with them. We later let Carl sort out a fishing tour and although he is very nice if not a little persistent we would definitely book with samoy again!
We walked to the crocodile farm which is about 10/15 mins away, you walk through the locals town but it didn't feel unsafe at all and was a highlight in fact to be welcomed to where the locals live. We bought lots of sweets (minty's) but be aware once you start handing them out you will be swamped….. I liked throwing them out of the taxi..the kids love it, my two had new best friends too!
The monkey park you won't kneed a guide too but we did get one when we were there and they were informative so worth it. The monkey park is at the end of the strip, Senegambia hotel (vulture feeding here too at 11.30 daily)
Fruit ladies/juice boy's: From day one you will be introduced to your 5 a day lady or man and then you stick with them…we has Omar (no 1) and he was great, we only managed to go to the beach a few times for juice etc and he got the children brackets with their names and a necklace each....am sure it cost him more than we spent on juice! He came and found us to give us the promised bracelets and I ran after him to give him 100 dalassi, the fruit ladies were friendly a bit hits and miss on the ripeness of fruit but you can choose what fruit you want.
Taxis: we mostly used the yellow cabs a s they are cheaper, not always in a good state but then the green tourist cab we got from the airport (standard 800D) was falling apart anyway much to my 8 year old daughters disgust!. You need to walk up the road but there are plenty. If you need a bigger cab then Yusulf has a mini van and was very good and would do a deal…he took us to the airport for 700 and when we told him we didn't want a porter he helped us in with our luggage…a very nice man!
We regularly got cabs to Senegambia and paid 200 each way-I think this is possibly too much but we were happy to pay. The green cabs will do it at a push but it's up to them and you can always get a yellow one, just say I always pay blah blah blah
Restaurants: We ate at the Taj-Indian twice, very pleasant staff and lovely food, The surf and Turf, a little more pricey but yummy and worth it, Chinese was good,The Calipso is well worth a visit, we happened to stubble upon this little bit of paradise the day we arrived and used it for a lunch time snack/drink…wildlife and ambience is lovely (watching the crocs and birds while you have a beverage) and the kids off in the hammock or nature spotting! The only bad meal we had was at the smiling coast, could have been a bad night??? football was on and nothing on the menu-I had fish with a very salty sauce a a dodgy stomach the next day…might have been the Malaria tablets or sunstroke? anyway we weren't in a rush to go back!!
The best restaurant we went to was The African Queen on the strip, ate here 3 times, fab food and fab atmosphere….totally recommend!!
Weather- we went at Easter-think it Spring/ warmer than I though with a breeze so deceptive, don't get burnt!! however the nights get colder and we didn't pack enough warm clothes!
Money: take cash!! we didn't and ended up getting the maximum out of the cash point a day 3000 d, appro £50. which is roughly what we were getting through a day, they will take any main currencies
Lastly enjoy, It is the smiling coast of Africa and I look forward to going back one day, the kids loved it too I mean where else ca you stroke a crocodile!!!
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- Also Known As:
- Ocean Bay Hotel And Resort
- Ocean Bay Hotel Bakau
- Ocean Bay Resort
- Ocean Bay Bakau
- Ocean Bay Hotel Gambia
- Ocean Bay Hotel & Resort Gambia, Africa