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A Chat with One of Liberia’s Best Surfers

Posted on Fri August 18, 2023.

If you haven’t heard of the legendary waves of Liberia, you are missing out! The year-round warm weather and excellent waves attract surfers from around the world and develop local world-class surfers. In this blog, we learn about the life story of the current champion surfer of Liberia, Morris Sheriff, and how to take surf lessons in Liberia.

Morris was born and raised in Robertsport, a fishing village in the northwestern corner of Liberia; he had always loved swimming but had no clue what surfing was. His first introduction to surfing was through the movie “Sliding Liberia” when he was eight or nine. Later when international surfers began coming to Robertsport, he asked, “What are these people doing?” He was amazed by how they stood on the board and were able to move with the ocean waves. He never imagined that he would be one of them in the future.

Robertsport's most iconic left-hand point break at Inner Cottons, photo by Nellis Terblanche

How did you start your competition journey?
I competed in my first surfing competition at 15 in 2010. I quickly realized the gap in skill level between myself and my fellow competitors. This realization motivated me to work harder, and by 2013, I was competing at the Junior level. However, when I turned 18, I was required to compete at the Senior level, which was daunting. Despite my reservations, I competed and came in second place in 2018. This accomplishment fueled my ambition to win future competitions, and I dedicated significant time and effort to achieving this goal. Unfortunately, I did not perform well in the 2021 competition, leaving me uncertain about continuing to compete. However, in 2022, while teaching surfing in Monrovia, I was encouraged by those around me to compete once again. Even a friend who was a judge asked me, "Are you going to compete or judge?" This push from my peers led me to compete, and I ultimately won the championship in Liberia in 2022.

Photo provided by Morris Sheriff

What part of surfing do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy nothing more than my time in the water. I’m also happy that more and more people are starting to get to know what I do and what surfing is.

What’s your biggest ambition now?
I want to build up the surfing industry in Liberia and spread the surfing culture to the wider world. I want to go to other countries where the surfing industry is mature so that I can take courses and bring back better knowledge to Liberia as a professional coach. There are a lot of courses in South Africa and Europe, so I hope one day I can go to these places.  

Photo provided by Morris Sheriff

What are some challenges you’ve faced?
One of the main challenges I face as a surfer in Liberia is the stereotype that Liberians cannot surf. While those who grew up in Robertsport are familiar with the sport, people in Monrovia are less inclined to get into the water. Although some express interest in learning to surf, they must travel to Robertsport despite poor road conditions, which can be time-consuming and impractical. Monrovia offers better infrastructure and more opportunities for both locals and tourists, so I plan to move there to teach surfing, believing that it can keep people off the streets and engaged in a positive activity. 

Photo provided by Morris Sheriff

What are you doing to add to the surfing industry in Liberia?
I am opening a surfing school in Monrovia, which has already started, and some surfers who I know have been working with me and are very supportive. The surfing school is open to both locals and tourists, and the main point of having this surfing school is to get more people to surf. 

How much do you charge for the lessons?
At this time, I charge $20 per hour for kids and $30 for adults; if they have their own surfboards, it is $15 for kids and $20 for adults. I also completed a level 1 course in aquatic rescue and a level 1 course surf judging from the International Surfing Association.

Surfing and Tourism In Liberia

Liberia has abundant natural and cultural attractions that can attract tourism and drive economic development, with surfing playing a significant role in this. Robertsport, a fishing village in the northwestern portion of the country, is best known for its waves (you can rent a board at Robertsport Surf Club), but Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, also has ample opportunities for surfers at every level. 

During the conversation, Morris expressed his desire for more surfers to understand that his ultimate goal is to develop the sport and bring more awareness to it within Liberia. Morris believes collaboration between surfers, tourists, and locals is essential for achieving this goal. He stated, "If we deliver the right information to people in the right way, more individuals will join." Morris insists: "By showing what I have accomplished, I want to break the stereotype about Liberian surfers."

If you want to contact Morris for surfing lessons, you can send him a message on WhatsApp at +231 77 547 1296. 

If you want to learn more about surfing in Liberia, follow Morris Sheriff on Instagram!

Curious about what other adventures await you in Liberia? Check out Liberia’s official travel website for more in-depth travel tips! And follow us on Instagram @enjoy_liberia_travel