When the Yamaha 230E outboard engine zoomed off, most of the passengers were not ready. Some were still fixing their life jackets while others were hoping for a formal introduction of the cruise itinerary.
“Young man, take it easy, no hurry please. We are going to a place where life is lived at ease, a place where nature is most beautiful, and a place which, though in Lagos, is different from Lagos,” the boat owner cautioned the rider.
From then onwards, the less than 30 minutes ride along the lagoon from Marina turned to an adventure with many breathtaking sights, imposing and unsteady wave, beautiful coconut plantations and a handful of mangrove outcrop amidst locals toiling on the lagoon for their daily bread.
Of course, the hands were busy with the cameras. However, the adventure lay ahead. As the boat engine oozed out its last sound in a stop at a waterfront, an elderly man beckoned with a smile: “Welcome to Ilashe, a leisure pot in-between the Atlantic Ocean and the Lagos Lagoon.”
Ilashe, a sleepy village where the pace of life is set by the rise and setting of the sun, a tranquil oasis along the Badagry Creek, is one place in Lagos that is truly away from the madness of Lagos where leisure dictates the tune. The only sounds you hear are the waves of the Atlantic Ocean crashing intermittently against the shore, broken only by the sound of birds happily chirping as they move from tree to tree. Yet, a few only enjoy the calming sounds of the Atlantic Ocean as it hits the shores of this hideout.
From leisure-conscious buffs swinging pleasurably in a hammock without watching their back, some dipping in live pool of the Atlantic Ocean, others playing on the ocean of sand by the shore, and a few more adventurous ones trailing the mangrove, Ilashe is truly an adventure that awaits you.
The attraction lies in the fact that Ilashe is tucked in-between the lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean making it a peninsula of some sort. Yet the very exclusive private beach houses and some commercial ones are top among the reasons you must visit Ilashe.
While the inhabitants, whose occupation is mainly fishing, go about their business undisturbed, great fun takes place at the ocean bank at their frontage. One thing that will draw your attention is the serenity, freshness and freedom in the atmosphere around the community that truly negates the madness and life-on-the-fast-lane of Lagos metropolis.
The freshness starts from an array of beautifully arranged coconut trees that dot the road to the peninsula and also shade visitors from the intensity of the sun. The sands keep increasing in volume and slow visitors’ pace as they move closer to their destination – the ocean bank. To ease movement, operators of the beach and most beach house-owners have quad bikes.
Unlike other shores along the several kilometres stretch of the Nigerian side of the Atlantic coastline, the sight of Ilashe is unique. Of course, the beach has the signature of Lagos beaches: white, lush sandy shores, coconut orchards just behind the beaches and a breath-taking view of the sea. But the ocean current seems stronger here to make surfers salivate on the prospect of riding on the waves of the strong ocean water that crash on the shores. The first thing that draws your sense of sight are the several beach houses owned by high-profile people in the society and expatriates who use them as hideouts and for holiday outing.
Some of the buildings are in form of a simple bungalow, while many others have elevated balconies where the owners can sit to enjoy the ocean view. But they all feature beautiful designs on wood architecture.
Looking at how the houses breathtakingly dot the ocean bank, the picture that comes to one’s mind is that of French Cote d’Azur reputed to be the millionaires’ playground. Going by the calibre of personalities that have beach houses there, Ilashe Beach could simply be termed Nigerian millionaires’ playground.
You cannot beat the rustic allure of the wood and thatch construction of the beach houses that lack nothing in terms of comfort. The exquisite furnishings, swimming pools, personal bars, water pumping machines and generators are among facilities that ensure unending comfort and swell time in the beach houses. There are some of the beach houses that are rented out by its owners on holiday elsewhere or very busy. The locals also run some others.
Solomon Awoniyi, an operator, says a beach house for a weekend stay costs about N50,000, while the visitors also make provisions for their own feeding. He assures of security, and the high level of privacy has not yet been overrun by urchins.
From the beach house, one could explore a panoramic view of tens of ocean vessels as they berth on the high sea waiting for their turn to come into the Lagos wharf, which points to the congestion in Lagos wharf.
Why not join the millionaires? And if you cannot, then come and see where they commune with nature and where things are as God created them. You are free to come with your picnic boxes, swimming pants, skirting and kayaking tools because there are enough space, water, sand and even sun to play and bathe in.