Best beaches in Ecuador South America
Ecuador sits between Peru and Colombia, often not getting the platitudes it should. If you’re a traveller or tourist looking for beach destinations that are as beautiful as they are authentic and unique then you can’t fail with Ecuador. Great news also that many of the beaches in Ecuador are very close to each other, we’re talking about half-day journeys rather than the 48 hours it can take to go from one Peuvian beach to the next. With that in mind there is really no reason why you shouldn’t be visiting all of Ecuador’s beaches on your next trip – they’re definitely worth it!
This is where you go if you like the simple life. It’s why I spent so much time there. Canoa is a very small town that maintains a level of tranquility but still manages a lively nightlife which picks up considerably at the weekend. It’s one of those places where if you stay for a decent length of time, i.e. more than a week, you will find yourself knowing everyone in the area.
When I visited in 2008 it was at that perfect juncture as a travel spot where enough people know about it that there is a steady stream of tourists (i.e. people to drink with) and a few different places to go to at night but it escapes the crime and drug problems that blight these places once they become too popular and the tourists begin coming in their droves (which is what I believe has happened in Montañita – see below.) As there’s not too many tourists you will also end up mixing with plenty of the locals as bars will always be stocked with a mixture of both.
In terms of things to do, Canoa is great for surfing with a beach break, especially good for beginners as the sea is relatively calm but can also offer decent swells. There is also the possibility of paragliding from the nearby hills, exploring the caves on the beach, but mainly you will end up relaxing under assorted beach umbrellas, playing chess or Risk, enjoying the food at the excellent Café Flor and waiting for the next party when it comes.”
Known as the “ecological capital of the Ecuadorian coast”, Puerto Lopez is a laid-back, slightly run-down seaside town a two hour bus ride from Montañita. For tourists, the town acts as the base for good whale-spotting trips, visits to the Isla de Plata, and exploring the Parque Nacional Machalilla.
Hotels in the town are cheap and simple and there are a good few cafes and restaurants, serving freshly caught seafood and stock standard breakfasts. If you’re up early enough in the morning for a day trip, you can see the fishing boats full with the day’s catch approaching the shore. There is a gringo-run cafe to the south of the main road stretching the length of the beach, which serves pancakes for breakfast, if you’re fed up with the standard egg and bread options, and they also run a book exchange with a good selection of modern fiction.
Known as “the poor man’s Galapagos”, the Isla de Plata is home to blue and red footed footed boobies, frigate birds and pelicans, amongst other birds. Tours to the Isla de Plata will often include whale-spotting opportunities. The swell out at sea en route to the island can be quite vicious (there were several seasick people on my trip) but the uncomfortable trip out to sea is worth it just to see whales breaching and get a sight of the famous blue-footed booby, for those on a budget that cannot fork out for a trip to the Galapagos. Tours will often stop for snorkelling – there is a reef just off the island, housing an abundance of sealife.
As with other places along the coast, whale-spotting is best from July to September. I went in August and we saw whales in abundance, although the weather wasn’t brilliant – cold and rainy.