- Location: On the Sierra Leon river, 20 miles from Freetown
- Attraction Type: Slave Castle and Island
- Significance: Slave and rice trading outpost in the 18th century
- Best time to Visit: November, after the rains
- Visiting Hours: Throughout the day
- How to Reach: Boat ride on Sierra Leone river from Freetown.
- Nearest Airport: Freetown International airport.
Bunce Island was once the most famous slave and rice trading outpost in western Africa. The ruins of extensive establishments on the island and the unique history have made this place a great tourist spot for people who care for history.
The history of Bunce Island is the story of the movement of slaves from Africa to the new world. First settled in 1670, the main castle on the island was run by slave traders like the Royal African Company. The slave trade and the rice produce of the west coast of Africa were done through this post. The Danish, French and English had a stake in the trade. Later the produce and the slaves were sent to America where people who gained from the trade grew so rich that they became political figures of repute. Bunce island’s glory days came to an end when the slave trade was abolished and the British Navy based its Africa Squadron at this place. With the main trade gone, the castles fell to ruins and the cannons were stolen or fell to disrepair.
Today the island has ruins from the bygone slave era standing. It has been visited by Colin Powell, Isaiah Washington and other African American men of repute. The strong connection to the African American diaspora in USA makes it a spot visited frequently.
Things to Do
Be part of a tour and appreciate the unique history of the island. The expert guide will tell you how the ruins were once important positions where the slave trade and the rice trade used to take place. Take some time to stand and appreciate the cannons which still bear the royal cipher of King George III Also there to see is the castle of the Chief Agent’s residence — “Bance Island House”. This is the only building that still rises to second story level on this island. There are also watchtowers, fortification and gunpowder magazines. Also take some time at the local cemetery where graves of slave traders, slave ship captains and foreman of African workers lie.
If you care to move in boats along the Sierra Leone river and the Moa river, there are other places to see. Do not miss Tiwai island wildlife sanctuary. Lakka beach offers snorkeling, fishing and surfing facilities. Guma’s natural trail offers diverse wildlife. Canoe rides are available at the Tokeh fishing village.
There are no accommodation facilities on Bunce Island. Tours starting from Freetown on boats typically stop at Bunce Island. Sleeping and dining facilities are available on those boats. There are many tour operators, details of whom are best verified in person.