WARNING: In March 2014, Liberia began experiencing an outbreak of the often fatal and largely untreatable Ebola Viral Haemorrhagic Fever. Confirmed cases have occurred around the city of Monrovia, and suspected cases have occurred in the city itself. Symptoms include chills, low-back pain, fatigue, diarrhoea, headaches, bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and rectum. AVOID contact with any persons exhibiting these symptoms.
The virus is spread through direct unprotected contact with blood or secretions of an infected person; or through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions. Fatality rates exceed 70% and some strains of Ebola have been known to cause a 90% fatality rate. As of July 2014, practically the entire country is quarantined; Schools are shut down, the public section is closed, the fatalities are already 129 and there is no sign of any possible decline. Travelling to Liberia at this time is considered highly dangerous.
Monrovia is the capital, and with a population of around 1,000,000, also the largest city in Liberia.
The city center is the image of a tropical capital, melting in the hot sun. Monrovia is a low-rise capital on the sea, lined with palm trees and paint-chipped buildings of no more than three stories. The city, however, has a vibrant vibe on the street.
To be honest, there is not much to do, see, nor buy in the city center. There are a number of merchants lining the streets, selling used clothes, household wares, and an "interesting" selection of DVDs. There are two large, well-stocked supermarkets in the city center to offer a surprising selection of Western foods.
Still, despite its woes, Liberia has the feeling of a country on the ascent. Billboards line the streets, inviting citizens to pay their taxes to make their country stronger and to take pride in their success. It is not cliché to say that Liberians are extremely friendly, so the streets seem alive and peppy.
It is incorrect to say that Monrovia has no buildings higher than three stories. There are several buildings in Monrovia that are 8 stories or higher. Examples are the ministries of Finance, Education, Health, Foreign Affairs, the Executive Mansion, Pan African Plaza, Ducor Hotel, several apartments on Tubman Blvd. etc. There are also close to a dozen large supermarkets with a wide selection of food, beverages and just about anything found on supermarket shelves in the west.
Brussels airlines offers flight from Brussels, Belgium, with a touchdown in Accra, Ghana. Air France is flying from Paris via Conacry. BA flies 3x week from London via Freetown. There are no daily flights, but they are becoming more regular.
Connections from the African continent have increased rapidly in recent months. Monrovia is connected to Casablanca with Royal Air Maroc (which offers connections to Europe and North America), to the Addis Abbaba hub of Ethiopian Airlines, to the Nairobi hub of Kenya Airways, and to Nigeria with Belleview and Virgin Nigeria. Both Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways offer excellent connections to other African destinations as well as the Middle East.
Brussels airline flys direct to Monrovia with no stops in Accra. It's only Delta that stops in Accra.
Monkey Island, Marshall, ☎ +231(0)886-537-942. About an hour and a half from Monrovia, past Robertsfield International Airport, "Monkey Island" is actually six islands that are home to six different chimpanzee groups. In 1974 the New York Blood Center began medical experiments on the chimps, and while their activities stopped during the civil war, they have continued to pay for the feeding and monitoring of the animals. The chimps are fed daily (3 islands each day), and visitors can ride along with the caretakers carrying the food and checking up on their charges. The chimps were meant to be sterilized, but more than one of the islands are home to newborns and what appear to be relatively normal social groups. Call Joseph in advance to arrange a visit. edit
Dining options in Monrovia are pretty good, all things considered. Anything other than Lebanese and Liberian tends to be expensive, but there are a few reasonable places.
There are hundreds of "cook shops" serving Liberian fare, but if you're yearning for something other than spicy sauces and rice, you can try one of the following:
Beach Bar & Grill, RLJ Kendeja Resort (RLJ blvd, Paynesville), ☎ 0202100117. Monrovia's newest "al fresco" dining venue. On the beach, has a laid back, almost Mediterranean feeling. Bar with seating area is covered, more seating available on the beach or under the pallava huts. Fresh, house-made pastas, pizzas, lobster bbq, Liberian fried fish. Their pineapple & prawn signature salad is amazing. Reasonable prices ranging from $12 for a pizza to $30 for a giant lobsters platter. edit
B First, 13th St., Sinkor (Beach side). Excellent and cheap Bangladeshi restaurant in Sinkor. Delivers, but with difficulty in accuracy and speed.edit
Bishoftu Ethiopian Restaurant, Payne Ave. at 11th St., Sinkor (Two blocks sea-side of Tubman Blvd., off 11th St.), ☎ +231(0)886-639-120. Ethiopian food - fixed price buffet Wednesday and Saturday. $15-20. edit
Casablanca. Great Moroccan food at the top of Broad Street. Again, very expensive, but tasty tagines (the chicken with raisins is particularly good.)
Diana's. Great lunch spot on Center Street. Great Lebanese sandwiches and falafel. +231 (0) 656 3333
Dona Maria, Tubman Blvd at 15th St., land side, ☎ (231)06-439-439. Reasonably priced, nice little ice cream parlor/pizza/sandwich/cake shop with wireless internet.edit
Golden Beach Restaurant & Bar, 2nd Street (Sinkor region), ☎ (231)06-821-717. American owned Continental restaurant that offers seafood, pizza and fine french dining from the head chef of Chez Christophe in San Francisco, CA. Enjoy your meal with custom seating directly on the beach. Some great items include French Onion Soup, Filet mignon with mushroom sauce, lobster tails, pan fried fish with creamy bell pepper sauce and thin crust pizza. There is also a separate Vietnamese menu. This is the only restaurant directly on the beach. This is the most popular spot for United Nations workers because of the large amount of Security guards here provided for protection of customers.edit
Great Wall. Pretty good, authentic Chinese food on Tubman Boulevard. Hot pot (shabu shabu) available in the front room. Back room available for karaoke parties.
Le Griot Cafe Opposite the American Embassy is an outdoor bar/restaurant offering a daily African special and a Sunday Brunch ranging from African food to Southern Creole Buffet. Friday Happy Hour Grill Bar Wireless internet. Cell +231 7 155 242 or +231 6 815 242
Jamal's Boulevard Cafe. Very reasonably priced, restaurant that serves pizza/Lebanese/International cuisine on Tubman Boulevard and Sinkor. Happy hour on Saturdays include live, Liberian band. Pizza delivery available. Cell +23177969969
The Living Room (Royal Hotel Sushi Restaurant). Sinkor, between 14th and 15th Streets, on Tubman Boulevard. Expensive, especially for the mediocre sushi. Very nice, sleek atmosphere - you could almost be in New York. Almost. The Royal Hotel also has another Western/Lebanese restaurant, where the chicken burger is pretty good. Pirate (seafood) soup also not bad.
Mamba Point Hotel, ☎ (231) 06-477-477, . Wide variety of food including Lebanese, Italian, Indian and sushi. The sushi is comparable to that at the Living Room.edit
Ministry of Fruit Cafe, Cheeseman Ave. (two blocks land-side of Tubman Blvd) at 17th St., Sinkor, ☎ (231)0888-199-588, . 8am to 8pm Monday through Friday, 10am-7pm Saturday, 10am-6pm Sunday. Christopher Thompson of "Good Juju" fresh fruit juice and smoothie fame has opened a smoothie bar and coffee shop serving reasonably priced espresso, pastries, sandwiches, Liberian dishes, fresh squeezed juice, smoothies, and fruit sorbet in a backpacker-chic atmosphere that is a unique and very welcome addition to the city. Sunday morning brunch is fixed-price and offers eggs, sausage, bacon, banana bread, juices and coffee.$3-10. edit
Nour Restaurant. Good Lebanese on Center Street.
P.A.'s Rib House, Near Spriggs-Payne Airfield, ☎ (231) 077-766-555, (231) 06-899-998, (231) 06-599-322, . Pretty good American-style barbecued ribs. Like most restaurants in Monrovia, service is a bit slow, and items on the menu are not always available.edit
POSH, RLJ Boulevard (between airport and city, on the beach), ☎ 0202100139. RLJ Kendeja Resort's main dining room. Good international food, steaks, seafood with lots of different choices. Does a very good sunday brunch although not inexpensive, but a good value, with lots of variety, and weekly changing specialties. The pool deck is Monrovia's finest terrace, outdoors dining venue, with pristine views. Nicest place in Monrovia to relax away from the hussle and bussle from the city.edit
Ro-zi's - N’yla Café, ☎ (231) 05-516-500, . Liberian fusion restaurant, Bestman Road in Airfield, Sinkor - you'll see the signs pointing the way off of Tubman Blvd. and Old Road. Excellent menu, charming "New York City meets West Africa" decor. Also caters and delivers. edit
Sajj House Restaurant, Tubman Blvd, Sinkor (at 18th St.), ☎ (231) 7255. Venerable Lebanese establishment with outdoor dining, a big screen TV, and wi-fi internet along with a wide-range of menu options. Cell phone number is "SAJJ" (7255). They deliver!edit
Taaj, 5th Street (beach side) off Tubman, ☎ (231) 07777 6666. Indian food. Great Baigan Bharta (eggplant).edit
Tides, Waterside (between Glamour and the garage). Excellent location overlooking the water, good cheap food, huge range of cocktails.edit
Sugarcane Beach Lounge, ELWA beach, Paynesville (Next door to Edwin Snowe's House), ☎ 0770000123, . Opening August 2013. Designer lounge located on the beachfront between ELWA compound and RLJ Kendeja. Offering Global Tapas, Liberian food and signature cocktails.edit
The best produce (salad, vegetables, herbs, fruit, squash, etc.) can be found on Benson St., around Newport St. Raw honey is available outside the mosque (you'll need to strain it). Honey also available from the Nigerian sellers in Rally Time market on UN drive, opposite the Ministry of Defense.
There is an excellent strip of butchers on Somalia Drive, near the port, where they slaughter and sell fresh cow, goat, and sheep meet. A butcher shop on Benson St. in town sells meat from these butchers (freshest Wed/Sat).
Fresh fish is available in Sinkor just past the Vavoma building (where Sinkor becomes Congo Town), on the beach side of Tubman Blvd. Or call Moses at 0886368158.
There are several supermarkets that sell imported (usually American, Lebanese, and some Western European) goods.
Abi Jaoudi (Randall Street) is the biggest of the bunch. Has decent bakery, deli, fish and meat counters. Produce selection is the best in the city, including hard-to-find items like asparagus and mushrooms. Now officially Harbel's.
ERA (Tubman Boulevard at 16th St. in Sinkor). Cheapest prices for imported staples and butchery items like ground beef. Small fresh produce selection, ever increasing selection of fresh baked goods (donuts, muffins, bagels). Cheap cat food.
Exclusive Supermarket (Tubman Boulevard at 19th Street in Sinkor). Newly renovated and expanded, a well-stocked supermarket with many imported goods. Excellent range of spices and Indian pulses. Western cereals, energy drinks, and a wide range of wine are on sale. There is a small bakery offering sandwiches and Indian foods for take-away. Now open Sundays 10-1.
Exclusive Supermarket (Second location in town on Center St. at Carey St.). Not as large as its Sinkor cousin, but large housewares section and reasonable prices.
Greenland (Tubman Boulevard, at 6th Street.) Small and a bit dark, open on Sundays from about 8am to noon. Overpriced (but convenient) produce stands in front.
Monoprix (Benson Street) is conveniently located right by the good outdoor produce market in town.
Stop 'n' Shop (Randall Street) is small and crowded, but has a good assortment of groceries. Sometimes imports specialty items (i.e., strawberries.). Deli counter makes good reasonably priced sandwiches to-order.
Stop 'n' Shop (Tubman Boulevard at 17th St.). New location, much the same selection as the in-town store.
UN Drive Supermarket (Tubman Boulevard, between 15th and 16th Streets). Mediocre array of imported goods.
T's Bar & Lounge, Logan Town (Bushroad Island, just before Saint Edwards Church), ☎ +231 880 512 664. Tu-Su. Newest and hippest bar lounge on Bushroad Island. Daily live jams with the hottest DJs. Or just come out to enjoy your favourite soccer games on the floor to ceiling projector screen and hang out in the ultra cool VIP room.edit
Corina Hotel, Tubman Blvd at 24th St (next to Sam's BBQ), ☎ +231-6538588, . Former Peace Corps HQ, now hotel and conference center, on edge of Congo Town. Single rooms advertised at USD65 + tax at airport, actual price usually at least USD90. Small, dark, old rooms and minimal breakfast are not great value for money at that price. Sam's BBQ in front of the hotel serves as its main restaurant. Diners beware however. When the bill arrives, the total for ex-pats at least is often higher than indicated on the menu. Check the prices and math first or risk paying more than necessary due to an honest "mistake". The beer however, is the coldest available in Monrovia.edit
Greystone Suites Bed & Breakfast of Mamba Point, 1 Greystone Access Rd., ☎ 231 77 155242; 00-231-6-815242 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . One, two or three bedroom suites with 24-hr electricity, hot water, AC, wireless internet, DTSV, security, housekeeping and laundry. Opposite the American Embassy and the European Union building.Starting at $110USD per room or $250USD for an entire suite, monthly arrangements available.. edit
Hotel Provident, 9th St., Sinkor (beach side), ☎ 00-213-6-553-943. Simple, clean rooms. Popular for workshops - good catering, nice conference spaces.edit
Moko's Guest House, ☎ 00-231-77-515747; 00-231-6-515897 (email@example.com). This guesthouse is located on a secure compound in Sinkhor. Prices include a generous and delicious breakfast of omelette, pancakes, or fish. Laundry services, cable television, and wireless internet are available. The staff are extremely attentive and competent.Aabout $80-100 per night. edit
Kendeja Resorts and Villas. Tel: +231-(0)202-100-100/117.  Built by the owner of the US cable channel, Black Entertainment Television. Kendeja is a modern, villa style luxury resort with all the up to date hotel amenities anyone would expect to find in the US or in Europe, has a spa, pool and is located on Monrovia's best beach. Rooms have en suite bathrooms, US, UK and EU electrical plugs and free wifi. Good variety of food, 24 hour room service, does an amazing sunday brunch. About 45 min from town, past SKD Stadium on the Robertsfield Hwy, but less than 35 min from RIA airport.
Krystal Oceanview, 1000 Mamba Point Road, Monrovia. Tel+231 651-0424 . A Liberian-owned, family-run 30-room hotel overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, near several western embassies (US, EU, UN).
Mamba Point, Tel. +(231)226693/226452 fax. +(231) 26050. Mamba Point has 55 air conditioned rooms, TV, 24 hour electricity, a bar and an international restaurant. It's near the water and several of the western embassies and UN agencies. It also has wireless internet connection in the lounge.
Royal Hotel. On Tubman Blvd at 14th St. in Sinkor.
The Renaissance Hotel. Tel: 00-231-6-552-200. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Boutique hotel and restaurant with cable television and restaurant.
The Cape Hotel. Tel: 00-231-6-429-947. Posh hotel with African-inspired décor at Mambo Point, next to the US Embassy.
The Atlantis Beach Hotel. UN Drive, Mamba Point. Tel: +231-(0)886 510 757, +231 (0)777 10710 or +231 (0)886 788 888. Email:email@example.com. Nice hotel with bar and restaurant overlooking the sea.
Careysburg is a town founded by freed slaves in 1859, about 30 minutes from Monrovia. The sleepy city and nearby townships have examples of homes and churches built in the style of the American South, set against a cool, lush landscape. The Quelu and Wulki Farms both offer accommodations with swimming pools and horseback riding.