An up-and-coming vacation destination in Ecuador is the Pacific Coast. There are numerous beautiful beaches, lovely towns, and different cultures that are still unknown to many people. If you’re looking for Hidden Treasures in Ecuador, I highly recommend you visit the Ecuadorian Coast. It’s easy to reach the Coast by flying to Guayaquil or to Manta. Once there, you can also find direct flights to Quito, Panama, and in the near future to the Galapagos Islands as well!
The 5 best beach towns on the Ecuadorian Coast.
1. Santa Marianita
This hidden treasure is located a 10-minute drive from Manta and features a long white beach, water sports, small restaurants on the beach, and some family-owned hotels. My favorite hotel is called Eolia and is located just outside the village of Santa Marianita. There are countless foreign surfers who come to Santa Marianita to enjoy the waves, therefore, you will find different types of restaurants and a laid-back atmosphere. It is also a great place to visit with your kids. The long beach has plenty of adventure for children and it is possible to go paddle boarding, surfing, or you can go kayaking.
There is also a beautiful beach next to Santa Marianita called La Tiñosa. You can get there walking all the way from Santa Marianita. Along the dunes between La Tiñosa and Santa Marianita, there is a sea turtle breeding ground. During certain times of the year, you can witness the amazing hatching process.
This authentic Fisherman’s Village is located about 2 hours from Guayaquil. The bay where Ayangue is located in a quiet place with many small restaurants, fisherman boats, and white sand, and during the weekends’ lots of local people are out and about. This is also the hometown of the Valdivieso community, best known for their clay handicrafts made from the same earth of this fantastic coastal location. There is also a small dive shop, so if you are interested in diving along the Ecuadorian Coast, Ayangue is the best place to start.
3. Puerto Lopez
The beach at Puerto Lopez is long and white but can be crowded at times, mostly depending on the holiday or time of year. The village itself is lively with a variety of hotels and restaurants. If you are interested in visiting Isla de La Plata, Puerto Lopez is the harbor where you would depart. They also call Isla de La Plata the “Poor Man’s Galapagos”. This is because you can find almost the same flora and fauna as what you will see at the Galapagos Islands.
When traveling to Isla de La Plata you have to take a small boat with a capacity of 16 people. You will navigate for about an hour. Upon arriving at Isla de La Plata, the full-day excursion is highly recommended because you have the opportunity to snorkel and hike around Isla de la Plata, as well as do some bird watching. The most exciting thing is that you might even be able to see humpback whales!
If you are looking for an untouched and uninhabited beach with no crowds, you should go to Los Frailes. It is about 20 minute’s drive from Puerto Lopez and you will find the most beautiful virgin beach on the Ecuadorian Coast. Los Frailes is located in the National Park of Machalilla, therefore it is a pristine location that is simply a jewel along the Ecuadorian Coast.
Olon has one of the longest beaches on the Ecuadorian Coast, it’s about 7 km long. You have to drive about 3 hours to get to Olon from Guayaquil. It is also about 3 hours of driving if you are coming from Manta. Olon is just 10 minute’s drive from Montanita, which is a popular town for backpackers and other travelers looking for a festive coastal town experience. There is a large hippie culture here that you will find in Montanita, which is also something you can find enjoyable on your own. There are lots of foreigners who have built houses in Olon to enjoy the beautiful beach here on the Ecuadorian Coast. You can also find international restaurants and coffee bars on the boulevard.
5. Punta Blanca
The President of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, has a house there at the beach because it is so beautiful and stunning! It is just one and a half hours’ driving distance from Guayaquil. It is located in Santa Elena province, close to Salinas. There are not many restaurants or other facilities, but if you are looking for a quiet place on the beach this is the spot! If you are looking for city life, coffee bars, and a yacht club, you can go to Salinas which is about 30 minutes drive. There are often beautiful houses or apartments for rent through Airbnb or other rental websites.
Best beach city in Ecuador
The best beach city in my opinion is Manta. This is the capital of the Manabí province and due to its location, the weather is always great. The locals from Manabi are known for their friendliness and willingness to help. The connectivity is great with a new airport just 5 minute’s drive from town and all the restaurants are amazing and feature local cuisine from the coast with delicious fresh seafood.
Activities in Manta
You can visit the city of Manta’s beach, Playa Murcielago. This location is great for early morning or late afternoon walks along the 2 km coastline. There are often concerts and sports competitions like the Iron Man Triathlon or other events organized by the municipality. You can go shopping in the “Mall del Pacifico” or visit the town of Montecristi, which is famous for its handicrafts and Panama hats. You can also go to Cuidad Alfaro where the Ecuadorian Constitution was originally signed and learn more about Ecuadorian history!
The province of Manabi is known all over the country for its delicious cuisine. There are special dishes like ceviche Jipijapa, Ají de Maní, and Bolón con Higado. Unique to Manabí are ingredients that are often used for the Manabitan dishes like sal prieta, maní, and fresh fish like camotillo, lenguado, and tuna.
If you want to experience the Hidden Culinary Treasures of Manabi, I recommend you take a cooking workshop in the small and charming coastal town of San Vicente at the Iche Cooking School. San Vicente is located just south of Bahia de Caraquez with wonderful views and sea breezes.
Top 5 restaurants in Manta
- Iche: Delicious food from Manabi. Fine dining style with different types of dishes to share. A bit more expensive compared to other restaurants and you have to make a reservation upfront.
- Finisterre: Different fine cuisine styles like Spanish, Ecuadorean, International, and Mediterranean. The best place in town to go for steak and the menu also has a variety of great seafood.
- Casa Rosada: Located in the city center of Manta, try a delicious bolon or tigrillo for the best coastal Ecuadorian breakfast! Try the liver tigrillo if you would like to taste a true local Manabita dish.
- Martinica Restaurant: Excellent in any of its seafood dishes! This is a family-type restaurant with lots of varied options on the menu. My personal favorite is the ¨pulpo¨ or octopus.
- Maido: Did you know Manta is famous for its tuna? At this restaurant, you can taste the very best tuna prepared in Japanese flare.
When to visit the Ecuadorian Coasts?
You can visit the coast year-round because it is located near the equator line. The warm season lasts from December to April, with high temperatures, and almost no wind, and/or rain. The colder season is a bit chilly, with less rain, and windier. Therefore the colder season is highly recommended for activities like kite surfing, windsurfing, and other water sports.
Birds & animals found off the Ecuadorian Coast
The Ecuadorian coast is not only a Hidden Treasure because of its beaches, culture, and food, but also due to the amount of fauna. Animals found off the Ecuadorian Coast include five species of sea turtles, 20 species of whales and dolphins, hammerhead and whale sharks, and the largest remaining population of oceanic manta rays in the world.
Birds along the Ecuadorian Coast
Ecuador is one of the world’s leading destinations for birdwatchers because of the existence of over 1,650 species in all colors, shapes, and sizes. You can find lots of different birds around the rocks and cliffs on the Ecuadorian Coast. The most famous to see are the blue-footed boobies, the red-footed boobies, the Nazca boobies, and the frigatebirds.
Whale watching along the Ecuadorian Coast
During the months of June, July, August, and September, there is a great probability for you to see whales along the coast. Every year, after migrating more than 4,350 mi. from their feeding grounds in Antarctica, humpback whales choose the Ecuadorian coastal waters as their shelter to mate and give birth to their calves. If you happen to navigate in these waters, it is even easier to spot the whales and dolphins.
Best family-owned boutique hotels on the Ecuadorian Coast
After all my trips to the Ecuadorian Coasts, there are a couple of luxury boutique hotels I would recommend. All three of the following hotels are small-scale and located right on the beach.
- Eolia Sustainable Design Hotel
- Las Tanusas
Family travel at the Ecuadorian Coasts
When traveling with (small) kids to Ecuadorian coasts you can be sure that you will have a great time due to the long beautiful beaches, water activities, and the friendliness of the people. Make sure to take into account the travel distances and the temperatures. There aren’t that many large supermarkets or gas stations on the way for the bathroom stops. If you plan your family trip to Ecuador with the destination experts of Rebecca Adventure Travel you make sure that you have a once-in-a-lifetime holiday!
Navigating along the Ecuadorian Coast
If you would like to visit all the highlights I mentioned regarding Hidden Ecuadorian Coastal Treasures, you can now do so on a very comfortable luxury yacht. I recommend you embark on an amazing journey aboard the Kontiki Expeditions Luxury Yacht. This 6-day Kontiki cruise will take you to Manta, San Clemente, Bahia de Caraquez, Ayangue, Isa De La Plata, and other small local beach towns. During the navigation, you can relax, enjoy the views, and go birdwatching. On your time off you can go snorkeling, enjoy the water activities like slides and jet skis, or relax in the jacuzzi and more! The food onboard is top-class and deliciously amazing. When visiting the villages you have the opportunity to support their local customs and traditions.
On the M/Y Kontiki Wayra Luxury Private Yacht embarking in the city of Manta, you will go sailing along the Pacific coast, making stops at indigenous villages, wildlife refuges, marine park reserves, seashores, and beautiful beaches. The cultural immersion on the “neo luxury” Kontiki cruise is undoubtedly unique and authentic. The natural surroundings and the local communities of the coast of Manabí province will create a personal bond with the destination.
This cruise is also a learning experience, that combines adventure, ancient traditions, and natural surroundings. You can go hiking in the forest in the morning, and in the afternoon relax with a signature cocktail on the sun decks by the jacuzzi. This well-paced luxury cruise has it all!
By Rebecca Braak
Eager to visit this amazing destination? For sure Coastal Ecuador will be an amazing option to relax and enjoy the local cuisine while connecting with nature and wildlife.
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