36 Hours in Dakar – The New York Times

Join the long line of locals at Graine D’Or, a heavenly bakery with rows of glistening pastries, including raisin rolls, puffy beignets, fluffy croissants, spears of bread and perfect pain au chocolat. Holiday seasons bring out child-sized chocolate Santa Clauses and Easter bunnies — this tolerant Muslim society adores Christian holiday icons. Pack a picnic of pastries and grab a cab to your next outing. A crispy baguette costs just 400 C.F.A.

The Isle des Madeleines is a small national park island off the coast with emerald bays and rocky bluffs. A guide will tag along — no one is allowed on the island without one –—as you board a wooden boat, life vests provided. The island, with its few dwarf baobabs, is uninhabited. Trinkets, cash and milk are left as gifts for a genie said to live inside one baobab. Another octopus-like baobab looks like a monster sat on it. Tidal pools with starfish and translucent octopuses make for a magical children’s outing. Entrance fee is 1,000 C.F.A.; guide and pirogue are about 9,000 C.F.A. per group.

The Mamelles Lighthouse, a restaurant and club set at the base of a lighthouse, offers one of the best views of Dakar from on high. You can tour the inside of the lighthouse before a breakfast of bread and pastries, juice, eggs and fried potatoes. Hop in the restaurant’s van to get to the windswept top. Brunch selections range from 8,500 C.F.A. to 17,500 C.F.A. (Weekend dancing at the lighthouse starts after 10 p.m. and caters to an expat crowd.)

The ultra-modern Radisson Blu is attached to Dakar’s only shopping mall. The coastal location offers the opportunity for long walks or runs right out its front gate where throngs of locals jog each evening. Its large swimming pool is the perfect setting for an evening cocktail or two. Doubles start around 150,000 C.F.A. for weekend nights.

Airbnb quality can vary dramatically in Dakar with lots of unfulfilled promises, but a sure bet is a room at the lovely Loman Art House Villa. Spacious rooms spill out onto art-filled spaces and offer a gorgeous swimming pool wrapped in an intricate metal sculpture created by the artist who runs the villa. She may even let you use her huge and tastefully decorated kitchen to make your own meals. Rooms start at $75.

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