If there's ever a building outside of the US that oozes similarities, then this is it. The Centennial Pavilion was built in 1947 to commemorate the nations Independence. Every Liberian President has been inaugurated here, except for one, the current President George Weah. Instead, he opted for a local football pitch due to his footballing roots. The building has an obelisk outside, which is dedicated to the national heroes of Liberia. The inner area of the building has a large conference style seating area.
This hotel was the highlight of my time in Monrovia, although I am a self-confessed urban explorer. Originally built by the now-defunct Pan Am Airlines, but is now believed to be Libyan owned, despite sitting in ruins.
There are security guards monitoring the site, but a small tip will get you through, and then full freedom to roam around. Notable highlights are the old swimming pool, a spiral staircase, and a great panoramic view of the city. To stay in this 5 star hotel during its prime would have been quite the experience!
Joseph J Roberts Monument
Close to the Ducor Hotel is the Joseph J Roberts Monument. Okay, so it's just a monument, but a monument of the first President of Liberia that offers a sense of pride to every Liberian across the country. A quick 5 minute stop and easy to combine with Hotel Ducor.
Libassa Eco Lodge
Libassa Eco Lodge is a family owned resort 45 minutes from the centre of Monrovia, heading in the direction of the airport. Located on a beautiful beach surrounded by greenery, wildlife, and a lake. A very popular spot for both tourists and locals. I spent the night here and enjoyed every minute. The staff are welcoming, talk to you about their vision, and offer great facilities. You can use kayaks along the lake, attend wildlife lectures, and even visit a local village to offer a helping hand. Without a doubt, my favourite overnight stay across West Africa.
Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary
There's a privately funded wildlife sanctuary within the grounds of Libassa, which I found to be very educating. The sanctuary is home to many animals that have been rescued across the country, as well as the West African coast. The workers are volunteers worldwide, who are there purely for their love of animals. A small entry fee of $3 USD grants you access, but if you see value in what the workers do, then please offer a further donation. The sanctuary operates solely from private donations.
Downtown Monrovia doesn't offer a huge amount when it comes to exploring, but there are a few spots within easy walking distance from one another. There's a picturesque river in the city centre, as well as a local market beaming with colour, along with the war monument. If you still have sufficient time for a half-day trip outside of the city, then I'd definitely recommend Mount Nimba Nature Reserve.
Relax on the Beach
Due to its location on the West Coast of Africa, Liberia has a good selection of beaches for those wanting to relax. What surprised me the most is that there's no people. Coopers Beach is in Monrovia, so easily accessible, although the beaches along the waterfront of Libassa Lodge were the most superior.
Embassy Suites Hotel & Restaurant is a nice hotel in the centre of Monrovia which is worth using a central base to sightsee in the capital. It's by no means luxury, but the best I could find in a city where the hotels were very expensive compared to other West African capitals. The WiFi is acceptable, the beds are comfy, and there's an on-site restaurant. Depending on the length of your visit, treat yourself to a night at Libassa.
During my time in Liberia, the best food by far was during my stay at Libassa Eco Lodge. An extensive menu, reasonable prices, and a great service. Even if you don't intend to stay overnight, you can purchase a day pass to enjoy the pool area and take advantage of the restaurant.
A local guide in Liberia can be worthwhile, depending on where you actually want to visit. My trip was the shortest of my West African adventure, but I still used a local contact. His name is Sarnor and he's the local representative that many of the larger tour organisations outsource. You can reach Sarnor via Whatsapp on +231 8862 02725.