Sun and Surf in Ecuador
Ecuador’s coastline is less visited by foreign travelers than by locals, but miss it and you’re missing a huge chunk of the country.
Here you’ll find beautiful beaches, some of which are backed by mangroves and dry forest. The surfing here attracts enthusiasts from all over the Americas, and the seafood is the mouthwatering highlight of Ecuadorian cuisine.
Start in the regenerated center of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city. Walk along the riverside malecón up to the artistic district of Las Peñas and marvel at the urban iguanas in Parque Bolívar. Take an afternoon excursion to Parque Histórico across the river and gain insight into rural life as well as a glimpse of coastal wildlife.
Take an early bus to Montañita and spend the day surfing, sunbathing, and socializing in this vibrant backpacker hangout. For a more active day, hike up to the waterfalls and forests of Dos Mangas in the hills behind the town.
Take a bus to Puerto Lopez and spend the day in Machalilla National Park. Visit the museum and archaeological site in the hills around Agua Blanca before visiting one of Ecuador’s most stunning beaches: Playa los Frailes, in the national park. As an alternative to Puerto Lopez, stay in nearby Puerto Rico and enjoy some delicious seafood at La Barquita or Alandaluz.
Take a day trip to Isla de la Plata, dubbed the poor man’s Galápagos for its birdlife. Hike around the island and cool off with some snorkeling. If you’re visiting June–September, substitute this with a whale-watching trip to see dozens of humpbacks breaching.
Head north to Bahía de Cáraquez and enjoy the gentle pace of this clean, friendly eco-city. Take an excursion to the nearby mangroves and Isla Corazón, which has a large colony of frigate birds.
Head north to the fishing village of Mompiche. Blow your budget on the luxurious Royal Decameron Hotel on the hill or rough it with the surfers in the laid-back village.
If you’re in the mood for a party, continue north to Atacames, where the beach bars pump out music until the early hours. Don’t miss encocado (seafood cooked in coconut) for dinner at the beachfront restaurant Marco’s. For a quieter break, stay at Playa Escondida or Súa.
© Ben Westwood and Avalon Travel from Moon Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands, 5th Edition