How to see the coast of Ecuador without a car

By far the easiest way to see the coast is renting a car, but if you are like me when I first got here and intimidated by driving in a foreign country, I don’t blame you!
The good thing about Ecuador is you can bus it and be just fine.

IF YOU ONLY HAVE ABOUT A WEEK…

Most fly into Guayaquil.  From there I suggest taking the shared taxi company for $10 a person, 2 hrs, to Salinas.  They leave from the Ramada in Guayaquil.

Skip Playas if you don’t have a car.  Too off the beaten path.

Head straight for Salinas, the taxi company drops you off right at the malecon (boardwalk) whereas the buses only take you to Ballenita which is a nearby town and you have to catch a $5 cab there to Salinas.

Stay as long as you like then catch a cab to the bus terminal in Ballenita ($5) and catch a chicken bus north to Montanita-Olon (1 HR, about $3).  There are also direct buses Guayaquil-Montanita if you wish to skip Salinas.

From there on up to Puerto Lopez you can hop on hop off buses as you like at beautiful beaches like Nunez, San Jose, Ayampe and Las Tunas. The buses only run until around 7pm though and pass every half hour or so!

From Puerto Lopez you can catch a motorbike-taxi to Los Frailes Beach or in the other direction also minutes away Salango. very nice!

And there you can hop on a bus going north to Puerto Cayo (45 min) which has some great places to eat seafood on the beach and enjoy the view of the islands offshore.

From there the easiest, best route for non-car people is to catch the bus inland to Jipijapa and onto PortoViejo (1 hr).

I suggest sleeping in either Puerto Lopez or PortoViejo as the options in the other places in between are suspect.  From there you can go to Manta to catch a plane back to Quito.

IF YOU HAVE LONGER THAN A WEEK…

Or from PortoViejo you can venture north.  I’d skip Crucita as it is a bit hard to get in and out of there by public transport if your plan is to beach hop north, and instead check out San Jacinto-San Clemente (1 hr) Beach which is right on the busline from PortoViejo to Bahia.

From there I’d catch a bus north to Canoa (20-30 min).  Another beautiful surfing beach.  That’s where I’d stop my journey as buses heading north from here are few and far between (unless you have a lot of time.)

IF YOU HAVE MORE THAN A MONTH…

Head north from Canoa to Pedernales where i would not stay, just connect north, then skip Cojimes (too hard by bus), and go straight to(3 hrs) Mompiche-Portete. 

From there skip Muisne, the Galera area, and even Same (too hard by public transport) and head straight for the Sua-Atacames-Tonsupa (1-2 hrs) area just south of Esmeraldas where when finished soaking up the sun and eating seafood you can then catch a 6 hr overnight bus to Quito.

That’s how I’d do it without a car (and I have many times!)

Other beaches not mentioned here (like Manta!) I’d skip cause they are just too dang hard to access via public transport if you are going north-south or south-north up the coast.

971 Alfonso Tobar y Tulio Garzon Tababela PICHINCHA 593 ECUADOR
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When is best to visit the coast of Ecuador?

Today, I’m checking in from Puerto Cayo, about an hour south of Manta where i have one house and a few lots for sale.  

And holy sh#t it’s hot as I type this the beads of sweat roll down my fingers.  

This time of year on the coast (from January to March) it rains almost everyday, then the sun comes out and is super hot and humid.  

Yet from about June on through to November-December it can get quite brisk (by Ecuador standards) and overcast everyday yet it doesn’t rain at all.  

But for me, the BEST time to visit is April-May.  You have the sun and the sapphire blue water without so much rain and humidity and heat.  

That’s when I’d plan on spending more time on the coast!  

Hasta pronto, if you liked this you’d love my Insider’s newsletter on living and investing in Ecuador,

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Top 3 scenic routes in Ecuador no one knows about

Working with tourists and new arrival expats in Ecuador on a daily basis at my hotel near the airport in Quito, It never ceases to amaze me how everyone comes to Ecuador for an adventure, thinks they are adventurous yet are quick to follow the same beaten path of everyone else. 

Same goes for when they rent cars and drive in Ecuador.  

For instance…

-From Quito to the coast, most go through Alaog-Santo Domingo- Chone.  Lame and dangerous (lots of trucks, traffic and landslides.) And for anyone who has passed through Santo Domingo, you know it’s a sh#t hole.  

1. Instead, go from Quito through Mindo, Los Bancos, and on to Pedernales (or cut down to Chone/Bahia).  Much more scenic, less traveled, no trucks, with nice pit-stops along the way like the middle of the world monument and Mindo.  (Almost takes the same amount of time, maybe one hour longer than S. Domingo route).

-From Quito to Guayaquil, most go once again through Santo Domingo and on down through Quevedo and Babahoyo.  

2. Instead, go from Quito through Latacunga on down through La Mana-Quevedo-Babahoyo.  The descent is breathtaking, be sure to do it in the daytime, and the road is good and there are almost no trucks or traffic.  

-From Quito to Cuenca most go straight down the pipe through Ambato, Riobamba then Alousi.  HORRIBLE way to go.  No places to eat.  Always foggy, very curvy and dangerous, lots of trucks.  

3. Instead, go the way NOBODY goes, but I just did, and it was great.  Go from Quito to Ambato, then on to Banos then on to Puyo in the Amazon region and on down to Macas and then over to Cuenca.  Took about the same amount of time as the normal route mentioned above (7-8 hrs), yet NO traffic, NO trucks and NO fog.  Plus, much better scenery and more good food options along the way.  The road is new, great and straight for most of the way!  For a long time the road was bad so I think that is why most Ecuadorians don’t use it.  You can even see orchids along the sides of the roads as you go. 

Now you too can go the road less traveled by in Ecuador.  

Hasta pronto, if you liked this you’d love my Insider’s newsletter on living and investing in Ecuador,

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