Even if you don’t like to party, party towns are good places to base yourself as you explore the nearby areas of the Ecuador coast.
There’s more places to eat.
A larger variety of places to stay at a much lower average cost.
It’s easier to meet more people.
And you have access to services that you wouldn’t have in more remote locations, like laundry, internet, organized activities, etc.
Everyday I ask other foreigners where they plan to travel on the coast of Ecuador.
And they always tell me the same damn thing, “Salinas, Montanita, Manta, Canoa”.
Yet theres one popular party town on the coast that is completely overlooked by foreigners.
For me, Atacames arguably has the nicest beach of all the locations mentioned above.
It certainly has one of the widest beaches of the country, and one of the few white sand beaches lined with coconut palms in Ecuador.
Beaches with good surf are nearby.
And beaches that are coves with flat water great for swimming are just a short Tuk Tuk ride away (in neighboring Sua).
Plus, when the other beaches mentioned above are likely overcast, you can usually count on Atacames to have sun.
Nightlife. Check, Ecuadorians know how to party, trust me on that one.
Accommodations. Cheap and plentiful with budget places starting around $10 per person and the nicer places around $20 per person.
Food. You bet. Each region of the Ecuadorian coast has their own unique blend of seafood gastronomy. But the north coast has the best cuisine out there! Try the seafood in coconut curry (encocados) or the seafood in nut based curry (cazuela) and you won’t be dissappointed!
Foreigners. Almost none to date yet the area has been popular with Ecuadorian tourists for weekend getaways (particularly from Quito) for decades.
Airport/Hospitals. Yes and yes. Atacames is one of the few beaches within just 20 minutes or so from an airport reachable by commercial flights (Esmeraldas). Plus, being just 15 minutes or so from Esmeraldas there are plentiful private health clinics and free public hospitals available.
Safety. This has been the knock on Atacames as most folks think its too close to Colombia for comfort, but actually its still several hours from the border (like a place called Quito), and with the added police force I believe safety has improved greatly over recent years.
The locals. Different from the rest of the Ecuador coast, the locals are mulatos by ancestry. And by far the friendliest and best looking people on the Ecuador coast.
Real Estate. Cheap! The best deal I see this week in the area is a finished and FURNISHED 20 room, 20 bathroom hotel one block from the beach right in the center of town built just 8 years ago complete with reception, oceanview terrace, and cistern asking $170,000 negotiable.
But the owner sounded like he’d go down even lower, I’d try for around $150,000. Its possible, and it would be a steal.
Im a hotelier myself, and I can tell you, to furnish a 20 room place (well) you’re looking at easily $45,000. And depending on the state of the building (which looks good in the photos) at this price it could pay for itself in 2 years if you market it right.
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