Equatorial Guinea - Attractions
Small, beautiful and Spanish in influence, Malabo is gleaming from a recent facelift after looking a bit scruffy a decade ago. Although it's not the biggest city in Equatorial Guinea, it's certainly the most vibrant and tourist-friendly. Outdoor bars, thriving nightclubs and colourful markets are the highlights of a town in the heart of the real African tropics. With ocean waves to the north and the imposing mountain to the south, Malabo is seemingly the perfect recipe for tourism, and the government is attempting to attract visitors by maintaining the city in a clean and relatively safe manner. The petroleum boom has created strong contrasts in wealth and modernization around the city. You will see fancy neighborhoods adjacent to shantytowns.
During the day, there's not much to do in Malabo except rest, wander and chat with the locals in one of the bars. Come nightfall and the town picks up the pace with many of the best restraurants and clubs not opening until the sun goes down. Beer is expensive, but the local brews of palm wine and malamba, made from sugarcane, are dirt cheap and available everywhere.
Capital of the mainland region of Rio Muni and larger than Malabo, Bata is a clean, charming town with wide streets. Lacking the spectacular volcanic views of Malabo, Bata is nonetheless quite lively, with busy markets and lots of restaurants, bars and hotels. The city has a dilapidated colonial charm and is used primarily as a base for day trips to nearby small villages or small islands close to the mainland. There are few man-made attractions on the mainland, however those wanting a secluded African beach experience are in luck; to the north and south of Bata are some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Bata is over 200km (125mi) across the Bight of Biafra from Malabo. Regular flights and an irregular ferry will get you between the two towns.
Although there is a general air of neglect around Luba, the second largest town on Bioko, it is a good launching pad to explore many of the island's natural attractions. Nearby are isolated beaches boasting white sand, including the beautiful Arena Blanca, as well as several small fishing villages and two hiking trails. Luba is about 45km (28mi) from Malabo along the western coastal road. Minibuses and taxis run regularly.