Many of us expats (myself included) in Ecuador prefer to live in the Andes Mountain region due to the mild, cool climate (and lack of mosquitos) in the center of the country and then invest in a second home or take vacations to the coast.
By Andes region I mean the area starting in Tulcan in the north, then going down through Ibarra, Otavalo, Quito, Ambato, Riobamba, Cuenca, Loja and then on to Peru.
But most who’ve driven it knows it takes 6-8 hours easy to get from Quito to the closest points on the coast. From Cuenca, it’s a good 3 and a half hours to Guayaquil, then another 2 hours to the closest beach.
Most don’t know there’s a back way to the coast…
In fact, you can get from Ibarra in the mountains north of Quito to the north coast in just 3 hours!
And the road is well paved, scenic and EMPTY too. It connects Ibarra to Lita, then on to San Lorenzo on the northern most tip of the Ecuador coast. From there you turn south and within about 45 minutes you are in Las Penas and the other beaches north of Esmeraldas.
Great for anyone that wants to try the road less traveled by or for someone who wants to live in the Mountains in someplace like Ibarra, yet be close to the coast!