“It was too cloudy.”
“It was a ghost town.”
I hear things like this all the time when people describe Salinas, Ecuador.
They just don´t know.
Right now I´m checking in from Salinas, Ecuador on a bluebird sunny day.
The ocean is sapphire blue and very inviting, not a cloud in the sky, and I´m surrounded by women in bikinis (at least thats what Im noticing).
People are on their balconies drinking beer with their friends.
Whats not to like?
But you have to know a few things before you visit (or live in) Salinas to get the most out of it… and be sure to define what you want.
1. Know the weather. From mid-December to early-May most days are sunny and warm. From late-May to mid-December its generally overcast. It makes a big difference! The ocean turns from blue to grey. All year it almost never rains on this peninsula blessing it with low humidity. For me, April is the best month to visit. Right now!
2. The seasons. If you like being surrounded by people, come in the high season from late December to early April, specifically on the weekends. If you like empty beaches come from late April to early December.
3. When to buy. If you are looking to purchase real estate, be sure to go in low season, when the weather is bleak, and everyone has their ´for sale´ signs out. The difference in amount of inventory available is astonishing. The best months to property hunt are August, September, October, right in the midst of low season and when the high season still seems far off. In high season, almost all the locals and expats take down their for sale signs to enjoy their property. As I speak here in April there is very little for sale. Ill be back in two months.
4. Where to eat. People who say they dont like the food here must not have known where to eat. Try the local treat, fish fillet soup “Chupe de Pescado” at the Restaurante Herminia on the Malecon. Try eating where the locals eat at the open-air food court Picanteria Super Fausto near the Bank of Pichincha. Try anything on the menu labeled with ” al ajillo (garlic flavored seafood)” “encebollado”, “ceviche”, ” sancocho” all delicious choices. For something fried you could always try the “camarones apanados (breaded shrimp)” or the cangrejo (crab).
5. Where to hang out and stay. Do you want to hang out with other foreigners or the locals? To find the expat-gringo crowd hang out at the Smokin BBQ next to the El Carruaje Hotel on the boardwalk or try the bar at Hostal Aqui or the restaurants at Big Ralphs or Cocos Hostal. Go elsewhere if you prefer to hang with the locals. For cheap places away from the gringo scene you could try any of the many smaller hotels one row back from the ocean like Marvento or Salinas Suites which usually oscillate around $20 per person depending on the season. For a luxury place try the Barcelo.
6. What to do and where to shop. Whale-watching is good fun and possible from late-July to early-September. People dont realize but at the local travel agencies on the boardwalk you can also hire banana boat rides, four-wheelers and even deep-sea fishing or scuba. For those living in the area to find any household items you may need try the big box stores at El Paseo Shopping Mall. To get the freshest seafood at the best prices try the Mercado de Mariscos in La Libertad. For local handycrafts try the handycraft market near the Banco Pichincha on the boardwalk.
7. What its really like. Take it for what it is. Salinas from the beginning was built not as a tourist destination but as a weekend retreat for the wealthy folks from Guayaquil. Another way to store their wealth. Its a row of high rise condo buildings along the ocean. If you go one or two blocks back it gets bleak fast as it pretty much looks the same as it did 10 years ago with not much investment.
8. The best beach? Chipipe vs the main malecon/ San Lorenzo area. Chipipe, tucked away in a cove, is the nicest beach in Salinas yet most miss it and stay on the main malecon beach area and then come away unimpressed with the beach at Salinas. Other nice beaches nearby Salinas include Playa Rosada and Ayangue.
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