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Beaches & Coast, Ecuador - Atacames, El Matal, Jama, Canoa, Montanita

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Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman - October 2018   » View Photoset (84 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for over 12yrs!
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!

Pedernales Beach

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 Portoviejo, 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!


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My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Beaches & Coast, Ecuador:

Habitaciones Rosita, Montanita, Ecuador - Large Photo
Habitaciones Rosita, Montanita, Ecuador (October 2018 - 1 night) - The 'Rooms of Rosita' are located on the main road and cost $15 for a small room for 2 people. The room had a private bathroom. The wifi didn't work inside the room, only outside on the patio. Sounds from the next room come through the open vent high on the wall. A good price though and I imagine much cheaper than the nearby 'more central' hotels. OK for a night or 2.
Hostal El Descanso de Belen, Canoa, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hostal El Descanso de Belen, Canoa, Ecuador (October 2018 - 1 night) - A small but comfortable room with private bathroom for $15 for 2 people. The main door opened out to the street which was good. Convenient location to the beach and center of town and not far from a few restaurants and the bus stop. Friendly and helpful owners whose house is part of the building. Good price. Recommended.
Hostal at the Plaza, Jama, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hostal at the Plaza, Jama, Ecuador (October 2018 - 1 night) - This hostel in Jama is right beside the cathedral at the plaza and didn't seem to have an obvious name. The room was kind-of old and had a private bathroom. For $15 for 2 people it was quite ok for a night and well located in the very center of town. You may find better accommodation elsewhere in Jama though.
Hotel Yam Yam, Pedernales, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hotel Yam Yam, Pedernales, Ecuador (September 2018 - 1 night) - Spacious room in Pedernales for $16 for 2 people. 1 double bed and a single bed. A window that opened out to the street. Located just a couple of blocks from the town center. Friendly and helpful staff. Recommended.
Hostal Manabita, Atacames, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hostal Manabita, Atacames, Ecuador (September 2018 - 2 nights) - Room in a hotel doubling as a restaurant for $20 per night for 2 people. Private bathroom and a window that opened to the street. Located in the center of town and not far from the bridge over the river for access to the beach. The bottom sheet didn't quite fit the bed and we had to sew each corner to the mattress, apart from that it was fine as far as budget accommodation goes!

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Beaches & Coast, Ecuador - Atacames, El Matal, Jama, Canoa, Montanita. Parasailing at Atacames beach, beautiful El Matal beach and Jama town, fruit salad at Canoa plus San Vicente and Montanita. Some of the beaches and sights on the coast.