Elmina is a city in Coastal Plain region of Ghana.
Its name comes from the Portuguese word for "Mine". The gold found in these mines are also the origin of the name "Gold Coast", which was the name of what is now Ghana, when it was a British Colony.
Take a Tro-Tro or Bus to Cape Coast. From there, a shared taxi costs less than 1 Gh¢ to Elmina.
Within Elmina, shared taxis are very common. The Beach Resorts in Ampenyi or Brenu Akinyim can be reached only by dropping cars and cost 10-12 Gh¢.
- 1 Elmina Castle (10 km west of Cape Coast). Built in 1482, Elmina Castle is the oldest European structure in Africa and incidentally the oldest slave fort. Elmina was a notorious slave fort used for moving slaves onto ships bound for other parts of the world. Although today it is a tourist attraction, it was once used as a prison by the Ghanaian government. It is quite a sobering experience and can be emotional at times (particularly the "room of no return", the cell for rebellious slaves, and the female slave dungeons, which still smell of bodily fluids). There is an admission fee as well as a minimal fee (a few pesewas, about 50 cents) for taking pictures. The money you spend is well worth it. Besides a guided tour with knowledgeable, friendly tour guides who are open to questions, there is an on-site restaurant, bookstore, gift shop, and a small museum inside the renovated Portuguese church within the castle.
- Portuguese Church. Located in the courtyard of Elmina Slave Castle, the church has been converted into a small museum devoted to the history of the slave trade in West Africa. It is a nice place to spend some time before beginning your tour of the castle.
- 2 Fort St. Jago (Fort Conraadsburg). The original building was made out of earth by the Dutch in order to launch attacks on the Portuguese-owned Elmina Castle, and in the 1660s, the Dutch replaced that structure with this fort. It was used strictly as a military fort for the purpose of protecting Elmina Castle after the Dutch successfully took it from Portugal. In the 19th century it became a prison and later a hospital. Along with Elmina Castle, Fort St. Jago is one of the 11 sites that make up the World Heritage Site "Forts and Castles, Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions".
The people in the town outside are generally friendly. However, be careful where you step if you walk on the beach. Apparently, the toilet facilities in the area are lacking.
During the tour of the Elmina Slave Castle, they bring you to a bookstore within the castle filled with reasonably priced books on the castle itself, slavery, important black leaders, and even some books on Ghanaian culture (the Ghanaian cookbook is worth a look). If you need more time to browse, return to this bookstore after the tour.
There is a restaurant inside the Elmina Slave Castle, but it's recommended that you eat elsewhere. The food is average, and you'll spend most of the meal swatting flies.
- 1 Elmina Bay, Mbofra Akyinim (Along from Coconut Grove Hotel), ☏ . A brand new quality hotel. All rooms have sea view and own balcony and are comfortably furnished. Good food, efficient staff. Lovely pool. Good for walking along the beach and just chilling out. Highly recommended. US$90.
- 2 Brenu Beach Resort, Brenu Akyinim (Take a tro-tro from GOIL/Pedu Junction along the Accra-Takoradi road towards Takoradi. Get off at Ayensudo junction, then hire a taxi from the main road to Brenu Beach.), ☏ . A well-tended private beach, better for swimming than the beaches in Cape Coast, only a 15-20 minute Tro-Tro ride away. There is a restaurant/bar on premises which offers a great variety of Ghanian and International dishes for 5-10 Gh¢. Camping/rooms are available. 1 Gh¢ entry fee for the day.
- KO-SA Beach Resort, Ampenyi (Take a tro-tro from Cape Coast or Elmina towards Takoradi. Get off at Ayensudo junction, then hire a taxi to Ko-Sa for 2-3 Gh¢.), ☏ . Well tended beach resort run by a Dutch couple. Rocks on the sea ground make it difficult to swim, but there are several great places for swimming or bodyboarding around Ampenyi Bay. Great restaurant with international and Ghanaian dishes for 6-12 Gh¢. 10-30 €.
- 3 Bridge House, Liverpool Road (Bridge between Fort St. jago and Elmine Castle), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Part of the Coconut Grove group, the Bridge House occupies a large brick building in the harbour of Elmine. From the coutyard, you are in talking distance of the fishermen preparing for or returning from fishing. Rooms are spacious and clean. The restaurant is fine, but the food is nothing special. The location of the Bridge House is superb, as is it is near both Elmina Castle as Fort St. Jago, only a short walk from the Dutch Cemetery. US$45-70.
The main taxi and tro-tro station is outside the Wesley Methodist Cathedral. From here you can catch a tro-tro to Takoradi (C10) or passenger taxi to Cape Coast (C5).