Liberia is a country that deserves more shine, not just because of all it has to offer, but also because of its role in Black history. Often overshadowed by Ghana, Senegal or even Nigeria, the country is just as worthy of a visit. Travel influencer, Royda Urey aka Philmena, has explored the lands far and wide. We tapped her to get her insight on how travelers can explore Liberia like a local would.

The West African republic, which borders Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire, is the only Black state in Africa that wasn't subjected to colonial rule, and it's the continent's oldest republic. In 1821, it was founded by a group of free Black enslaved and emancipated people from the United States who settled in the country.

Beyond the rich history, the country is filled with beautiful landscapes— including palm trees along its shores and waterfalls straight from a dream—friendly natives ready to welcome you with open arms, and of course plenty of authentic cuisine that will make your taste buds dance. If you're ready to experience Liberia like a local, here are top Urey's suggestions.

Where to Stay

Urey says that the Royal Grand Hotel is a great option for those looking to stay in and get a glimpse of the country's capital city—Monrovia. It features a trendy outdoor bar area as well as a full-service spa. If you're heading to the coast, Nana’s Lodge Beach Resort is an excellent option as far as accommodations. You'll always be just a few steps away from the beach, no matter what. Libassa Ecolodge, and RLJ Kendeja also rank high on her list.

Royda Urey at Nana's Lodge Beach Resort. Image: courtesy of Ronda Urey.

Must-See and Do

First and foremost, you have to fully immerse yourself in the history and the deep connection between Liberia and the US. To see where the first successful settlers landed, head to Providence Island. There are ongoing talks to make it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

To truly explore Liberia like a local, you'll want to hit up one of the many waterfalls. According to the influencer, Kpatawee Waterfalls—just 3-hours outside the capital—is the place to go. Don't forget your bathing suit or even a picnic basket because you'll definitely want to take a dip and just admire its beauty while there. Also, a must-do is a trip to Robertsport, a vibrant surfing and beachside community.

Urey with group of local surfers at Robertsport. Image: courtesy of Ronda Urey.

Where to Eat

Indulging in the cuisine of any destination is the best way to authentically connect. Participate in local customs to really get a sense of daily life. While Liberia has its fair share of delicious local cuisine, a few top spots that stick out to Urey are: Dumboy Valley in Monrovia and Terra Cotta in Congo Town.

"You must try dumboy & pepper soup as well as our grilled whole fish with rice or attiéké while in Liberia" she shares. "Dumboy is our national dish. It is made with boiled cassava which has been pounded, and you pair it with pepper soup."

Urey at Liberian beach. Image: courtesy of Ronda Urey.