The rise of Liberia
Nov 26, 2012 08:25 AM
By Sean Brody

If Bob Dylan was a surfer, he would be singing about Liberia because the times are definitely a' changin' for this West African nation. Forget what you think you know about Liberia, because the future of this country lies in surfing. With warm water, perfect left-hand pointbreaks, no crowds, and friendly locals the country is the ideal destination for any surfer's next trip. The country also boasts a growing number of local Liberians who are taking to the sport and, given their lives growing up with the sea, they are naturals. There are about 35 Liberian surfers in the country now, consisting of men, women, and children, and all but one live in Robertsport, home to arguably some of the longest lefts in the world.


Highlights from the Liberian National Surfing Championships.

It is rumored that the first surfers appeared in Liberia in the 1970s, but it has not been until the last few years that the sport of surfing and surf tourism have really gained any significant traction in the country. Now we see international surf travelers slowly trickling through the country in search of adventure and tube time. In addition to the odd surf tourists traveling to Liberia, the local surf scene is starting to take shape. Many people have heard of Alfred Lomax, the country's first surfer, who was featured in the film "Sliding Liberia," and Benjamin McCrumuda, who was showcased in the New York Times, but there are several new and noteworthy faces making themselves known amongst the group of budding young surfers. Take young Adama "The Liberian Lopez" Browne for example. His tiny frame scratches into waves three times his size and he arches into classy bottom turns with ease. Another stand out is Philip "Occholupo" Banini, who surfs with power and determination, making the most out of each wave. Armstrong Johnson turns heads in the water and fixes boards on land; his small ding repair business will thrive as more surfers come visit Liberia. 

Kwepunha Retreat (Liberia's first surf retreat ) and Surf Resource Network (a non-profit organization working in the community of Robertsport) have been major catalysts for this positive transformation, mentoring the local surfers and helping them receive international recognition, as well as from their own government.  Liberia was recently recognized by the International Surfing Association (ISA) as the 71st surfing nation in the world and the newly formed Liberian Surfing Federation has recently presented to the Liberian Ministry of Youth and Sport in attempts to have surfing officially recognized as a sport within Liberia. 

Just a few days ago the Liberian Surfing Federation, Kwepunha Retreat, and Surf Resource Network hosted the 4th Annual Liberian Surfing Championships and the waves were absolutely firing, with four- to six-foot sets reeling down the point, and the country's first surfers all holding nothing back for a place in the winner's circle and their names in the history books. The contest drew in over 430 spectators to the small fishing village of Robertsport and when the dust settled after two days of grueling competition it was the country's second surfer and President of the Liberian Surfing Federation, Benjamin McCrumuda, who claimed victory and the new national title. Peter Swen, last year's national champion, took second place with Alfred Lomax, two time Liberian Surfing Champion, taking a close third.  Winning the Junior's Division was Adama Browne, who took down last year's junior's champ, Morris Gross.  Claiming first place for the Women's division was an ecstatic Esther. The winners scored some surf gear and apparel from Rusty Del Mar, locally made trophies, plus a cash prize sponsored by Barefoot Safaris.  The event represents another notch for the Liberian Surfing Federation and they are already dreaming about next year's 5th annual event.

Who would have thought that the latest craze to hit Liberia would come in the form of surfing? Truth be told, given the quality of the waves, surfing tourism has a solid chance at helping the tourism industry in Liberia gain solid traction, since surf tourism does not require the same level of infrastructure that other forms of tourism require; surfers will sleep in their board bags if the waves are good and the water is warm. Other forms of tourism can thrive from the added traffic and improvements to the infrastructure. As the surf tourism grows in Liberia, so will the number of Liberian surfers, and these Liberian surfers can learn to harness surfing into an opportunity to receive an education and a career. Can surfing save Liberia? Not single-handedly, but it's a good start.

For more information about surfing in Liberia please visit: and



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