Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman -
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The plan to travel all the way down the Ecuadorian coast from San Lorenzo to Montanita was set, the only 2 places on the coast I had been to before
were Puerto Lopez and Tarqui Beach in Manta. The most important thing I learned from this part of the trip is that beaches are really only beaches on hot sunny days during
the weekends when there are lots of people, activities, food and beverages. Being the end of September it was slightly after peak season for the coast (July to
mid-September), so the weather wasn't 100% at every beach I visited, but I was fairly lucky and it did avoid the heavy crowds and peak season prices.
Atacames Beach - Parasailing
Atacames is a great beach with lots of activities and sights especially if you are here on a sunny day during the weekend (did I mention that?). I enjoyed a 'real
beach day' in Atacames, mostly nice weather, a weekend, sitting in a comfortable beach chair for hours under shade for $5USD, parasailing behind a boat and a boat
tour out to see the nearby island and some wildlife. You can also go whale watching here! Atacames has plenty of accommodation, either beside the beach or
across the bridge over the river in the town. I stayed at a place in town for a good price and around all the shops, it's only 5mins walk to the beach from here.
Sua Beach (fishing village) is right next to Atacames and is smaller, cheaper and quieter than Atacames. Atacames and Sua are just 45mins by bus south of Esmeraldas.
Mompiche Beach - Surfing & Horse Riding
Mompiche, 1hr 45mins south of Atacames looks pretty laid-back and is good for surfing and for taking surf lessons. You can also go camping and horseriding (beach
and mountain). There is lots of seafood available here including crayfish, crab, ceviche and prawns. The locals I met in Mompiche were friendly and helpful but
I didn't stay long here - the weather was bad. But I honestly think Mompiche would be great during the summer with less crowds and commotion than Atacames and more
peace, love and understanding!
When I asked the locals in Atacames and Mompiche what Pedernales was like, they didn't rave on about it, they said
Mompiche and El Matal are better and they are somewhat right. Pedernales is 1hr 45mins by bus south of Mompiche and was where I stopped for the night after traveling
on from Mompiche due to bad weather. Pedernales also had bad weather on this day, however, it is a beach, it has sand and sea, fishing boats, bars, restaurants and
accommodation, it can't be that bad! Maybe it is a little bit shabbier than the other places on the coast.
El Matal Beach & Jama - Nice!
In El Matal and Jama was where I finally hit
the sunshine on this trip down the coast, weekend or no weekend it didn't matter, it was sunny! Jama is just 1hr 15mins by bus south from Pedernales. From Jama,
El Matal Beach is just a few minutes in a taxi, you'll see several prawn farms along the route. The town of Jama is characterized by its old wooden buildings and
a very nice central plaza which has many ancestral figures and cultural elements on display. Jama also has a small museum with antique ceramic figures and objects.
The second plaza in Jama has a large fountain. In the evening, on the street, make sure you buy a Chancho Sandwich - a delicious combination of pork, onion, tomato
and mustard ($1.25USD). The beach of El Matal was quite deserted as far as swimmers, sunbathers and tourists go but it was a beautiful day. The beach has rows of
palm trees behind the sand and is nice, wide and open. The locals are fishermen and have their boats grouped together in front of their beach houses where they
bring in their catch. Behind the palm trees at the back of the sand are the houses of rich people, some very handsome looking houses indeed. El Matal really is a
very beautiful beach with white sands and turquoise colored waters!
Canoa Beach - Popular
Canoa, 40mins by bus south of Jama is a beautiful and wide open beach with white sands
and clear waters and is very popular during the summer months. The town is fairly basic and doesn't have an ATM machine. To get money you need to take the bus
20mins to San Vicente - a nearby town and beach. In Canoa you can rent a surfboard and get lessons too. You can take a nice beach break here, go for a stroll
across the bridge over the river, eat delicious fruit salads and enjoy the sunsets. Canoa is the longest beach in Ecuador! From Canoa it is 2hrs 30mins south to
, then another 3hrs south to Montanita through Jipijapa.
Montanita - Party Central
Montanita, party central on the coast of Ecuador with many bars, restaurants, hotels and hostels.
3hrs west of Guayaquil
or 3hrs south of Portoviejo
. They say the surf is fantastic here, the best. Come in the summer months, it was constantly raining while I was
here in October. When it's not beach weather in Montanita, what do you do? I enjoyed exploring the towns streets, arts and crafts, street art and restaurant decor.
Montanita is pretty much a place with lots of tolerance for fun and enjoyment to put it mildly but food is really expensive. My best advice is to bring a huge supply of groceries from Guayaquil or Portoviejo. Have fun in Montanita!