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  • The Anonymous Hungry Hippopotamus

Côte d'Ivoire Part 2: Assinie Beach

Le Bahia Hôtel

Approximately 90 minutes from the bustling city and economic capital of Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, lies the coastal, resort town of Assinie-Mafia. This enchanting city is nestled between the ocean and the lagoon, with close to 20 miles of unspoiled, shoreline. During my last few days in Côte d'Ivoire, my cousin took me on a trip to the idyllic Assinie beach, referred to as the “Saint Tropez of Africa.”

The ocean breezes, vanilla sands, blue skies and azure waters embraced us upon arrival. For the following days, we did nothing but relax. Whether it was while we talked and laughed ...

Pastis (Anise Flavored Apéritif)

... ate delicious food and enjoyed a cocktail ...

... or swam in the ocean, the tranquil vibe and spectacular scenery of Assinie persuaded us to unwind.

Grilled Fish

The first order of business, after dropping our belongings off in the hotel room, was lunch.

Beef Kabobs

I quickly learned that everything on the menu was excellent, as the food is prepared fresh, using local ingredients.

After lunch, it was time to hit the beach. The water was warm and the waves were perfect for swimming. We stayed in the water for hours, even after it began to rain. Swimming in the balmy weather, immersed in the warm, blue waters with mild rain coming down, was somehow extremely comforting and cozy.

Salad and Bruschetta with Pesto and Prosciutto

After a long swim, we sat on the deck and listened to great music until it was time for dinner.

Shrimp Scampi

The company, the food and the weather were all outstanding.

The next morning greeted us with more warm weather, gentle breezes, and blue skies. I took a long walk on the beach to take it all in.

Along the way, I passed others taking a leisurely stroll, or some selling snacks on the beach.

Breakfast began with fresh fruit, bread, local honey, za'atar, and a variety of jams.

The owners of the hotel live on site. In addition to the warm welcome they provide, they prepare the most delicious homemade jams from scratch, using the local, fresh fruit, including pineapple, mango and papaya.

Pain au Chocolat

The pastries are also fantastic. This soft and flaky, buttery croissant was filled with velvety, dark chocolate.

Middle Eastern Breakfast Plate

My favorite however, was this breakfast plate composed of warm, fresh-baked pita, za'atar, labneh (tangy, strained yogurt with olive oil), and foul madamas. Foul, or ful, is a staple throughout the middle east. Commonly served for breakfast, the dish is made with fava beans, olive oil, garlic, lemon, salt and a pinch of cumin.

Cucumber Stand

After breakfast and more beach time, we headed back home to Abidjan. Along the way, we did some grocery shopping. First we stopped at a cucumber stand.

Then we stopped at a produce stand.


Everything sold at the stands was grown at family farms, within walking distance, and included the following items:


Cassava looks like a yam but has a more neutral flavor and a softer texture. It is used throughout West Africa.


It took me a minute to identify what these were. I initially thought they were pears due to their size, shape and color. In fact, they are avocados, and their size is much larger, while their flavor is much deeper and richer than the avocados I am accustomed to eating in the United States.


Similarly, the watermelon I ate in West Africa was much more flavorful as well.

Tomatoes and Peppers

If you are a fan of spicy food like I am, you will love the peppers in Cote d'Ivoire. Bonnet chilis like this, are ubiquitous in West African cooking. You will find them boiled, sautéed, fried, whole, or chopped, in a variety of dishes.

CAVA (Centre Artisanal de la Ville d'Abidjan) Market

I also had the opportunity to visit the local art market, or CAVA, while in Cote d'Ivoire. Translated from French, this acronym stands for the "Crafted Center of the City of Abidjan."

At CAVA, you can find a plethora of handcrafted items made by local artisans. From the jewelry, to the clothing, to the wood carvings, everything was lovely.

F Tower

As we entered into the heart of Abidjan for the last few miles of our journey home, I was taken by the amount of construction all around. As my family remarked, the city is undergoing rapid growth.

The building pictured above, is called F Tower. It was conceptualized nearly 40 years ago and building is now well underway. Upon completion, the 64-floor edifice will become the tallest building in all of Africa.

That concludes my trip to Cote d'Ivoire. I found this country, that achieved its independence from France just over 60 years ago, to be absolutely beautiful. If you have never been, come visit this fascinating country that is the world's largest cocoa bean producer, home to the world's largest church, and the first black Republic to win an Academy Award. You will enjoy the lush mountains, bustling cities and the gorgeous beaches. Thank you once again to my family for their love, generosity and hospitality. I hope to come back and visit you again soon.

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