Archive | Ecuador Travel Guides

When to fly cheapest from Ecuador: Quito-Miami RT $354

Now’s the time to buy your flight if you plan on flying back from Ecuador to visit the US/Canada in the next few months!  

Wait a month to buy and any reasonably priced fare from now until May will be long gone.  

Working next to the Quito airport in my hotel for over a year and a half now, I’ve got a good feel for whens best and least expensive to travel to/from Ecuador.  

For an expat living in Ecuador, we often have the luxury of picking and choosing when to fly back to North America.  

So why not go when its cheaper?

Right now, its cheaper.  

The high season, and when the flights are more expensive, is late December to early April.  Then again from Late June to early September.  

The low season when you’re most likely to find deals is in May, October/November (now), and until early December.  

The highest of the high season and when you are least likely to find flight deals is in January and July.  (Don’t ask me why, it is what it is.)

Right now, TAME, Ecuadors national airline, has a few low season specials available until the end of this week.  

-Quito to Fort Lauderdale USA for $455 round trip with all taxes and fees included.  Travel whenever you want over the next few months if you buy this week.  (New route special).  Normal price Quito to Miami area around $6-800 USD. 

-Quito to Baltra (Galapagos) round trip $268 (for residents of Ecuador) all taxes and fees included except park fee.  This is the CHEAPEST I’ve ever seen, usually the flights are in the $450 range round trip.  

I recommend buying one of these flight specials NOT online, but in one of the TAME kiosks in the big malls in Ecuador.

LAN, a Chilean airline that flys extensively to Ecuador has an even better special from Quito to Miami, but with restricted dates.  This is the BEST price I’ve seen in two years!  

$354 Quito – Miami round trip all taxes and fees included… but must fly from DEC 10-16 and fly back between JAN 13-24.  Doesnt get any cheaper than this, wait a few days and this price will be gone!   I recommend buying this deal QUICK via kayak.com .  

$429 Quito – NEW YORK Roundtrip, all taxes and fees included.  Promotion offered this week by LAN on their site.  

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A, Ecuador Travel Guides

Whats it really like living in Olon, Ecuador? – 1 expat response

Ahhh, Olon, Ecuador, one of my favorite beaches on the coast of Ecuador, and certainly a growing ‘expat hot spot’.

Olon is a few kilometers north of Montanita, about an hour north of Salinas (which has the nearest airport), an hour south of Puerto Lopez, and about 3 hours south of Manta.

For me, with its golden cliffs and gentle waves Olon has a special, Californian-laid-back feel, and its got one of the widest beaches in Ecuador making it one of the nicest walking beaches in Ecuador.  Its also unusually green, whereas once you pass the point at the south end of Olon which separates Montanita from Olon, from there south the coast is actually quite dry, brown and arid while from Olon north to Manta the coast is actually quite green and lush.  I know, its strange.

Above all else its great for folks looking for a quiet small town to sleep, yet still near the social scene of rowdy Montanita.

Today lets chat with an expat about what life is really like from the ground…

Enter Mrs. Defrain.  

Why did you choose Olon?

My husband and I had been coming to Salinas and Montanita for about 2 years, and we decided to see if there was anything for rent in the area.  We found a very small unfurnished house in the middle of Olon for rent and we got a very good deal because we signed a year lease.  (We had to supply our own appliances.)

Montanita is a lot of fun, but it is loud.  Very very loud.  My college-aged son likes to visit Montanita when he is here in Ecuador.  Montanita is getting very built up and the available rentals seem to cater to short term visitors.  The town center has had problems with sewage smell, and they are working on that.  It’s a great place to visit but we did not want to live there.

We had never been “beach people” before.  My husband has learned to surf, or as he says it, “push a large board around in the water for a couple of hours every day.”

The beach in Olon goes for miles, from the point on the north end of Montanita, all the way up to La Entrada.  We have a lot of beach at low tide, and even have quite a bit of beach at high tide.  Some beaches in Ecuador disappear at high tide, but not in Olon.

How long have you lived there?

My husband and I have lived in Ecuador since June 2011, and have been in Olon for 9 months.  We still have an apartment in Cuenca, and stay there every once in a while.  We are building a small house here and plan to relocate.

There are some ex-pats who have been in the Olon area for several years, some like us just for a few months.

Tell us a little about yourself? 

My husband is retired.  My career was IT Project Management, but I have had 4 books published and now I am focusing on writing.  We chose to come to Ecuador from the US West for another adventure.  We looked in Thailand, Mexico and Peru.  Ecuador seemed to have the best balance of cost, environment, infrastructure, and proximity to the US.

What are the biggest positives and negatives to living in Olon in your opinion?

Two reasons that we enjoy Olon are the beach and the community.  The Malecon has quite a few thatched roof restaurants to choose from, all with an ocean view.  Olon is very clean and graffiti-free for the most part.

The community here is wonderful.  This includes the ex-pat community as well as the locals.  When you live here, you have to be part of the community.  The area is too small to hide out.  For example, when there is a local wedding or Quinceañera, the street in front of the family’s house is blocked off.  A festival tent is put up, and speakers the size of small trucks are put on a stage.  The whole town gets to experience the event, whether you are invited or not.

Olon, it seems to us, is a town in which not much is hidden away.  People are out on the streets day and night, visiting, sometimes drinking, and often dancing.  There are several events a year in which local dance groups compete against each other.  Because we live near the square, we have seen and heard them practicing the moves for months.

One midnight I heard something besides techno-pop music in the square; it was more traditional Andean music.  I woke up my husband and we watched a dance troop of about 20 people in Andean costumes dancing in their little black slippers, with wide straw hats in their hands.  Then the men bowed, put their hats on their heads, lifted up the ladies and spun them around in unison, and then moved away.  The traditional dancing went on, without conversation, for 4 dances.  Then they turned the music off and walked silently away.  My husband and I looked at each other in amazement.  Another Brigadoon moment in Ecuador!  We have never seen the dance troop since.

We wake up to the smell of bakeries close by, and go to sleep to the smell of grilled meat at Leila’s.  Sometimes the local wild donkeys add their “perfume” to the air.

One thing that is a challenge for us are the stray dogs, or the dogs with neglectful owners.  As dog lovers, we find it difficult to see the condition of these dogs.  One friend is in the process of working with a vet to build a dog shelter, in which injured strays can be taken for treatment.  She is also starting a spay/neuter center.

Approx how many resident expats live in the area?  Are there any weekly meet ups new expats should know about? 

There are Saturday afternoon meet ups in Olon and in Montanita during the high season.  Wednesday nights alternate between Olon and Montanita.  There are many formal and informal get-togethers.  Sometimes the magic just happens spontaneously at a local tienda on the highway.

I am not sure how many ex-pats live in the area, but over the year I am guessing around 200.

The ex-pat community is very welcoming and just plain nice.  There are inconveniences to living here, and we try to help each other.  For example, it can be difficult to get certain greens and veggies here.  Many people have gardens and share seeds and produce.

There are quite a few ex-pats who have built houses here, and they are extremely helpful in providing advice, contacts, and sources.  My husband and I are grateful for our friends and neighbors here every day.

Locals who live in Olon year round are always very nice, too.

What is there to do in and around Olon?

We have a book group that meets monthly, and ex-pat meet ups on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Bird watching is superb.  Beach activities such as surfing, boogie boarding, swimming, and just walking the miles of beach are just outside your door.  You can go outside every day.  What’s a little drizzle now and then?

We usually see friends whenever we walk outside our door.  Visiting is high on our list of fun activities.

Because we live at the beach all year, we are very happy when it’s Monday.  From Monday to Friday morning, we usually have the beach to ourselves, even in high season.

We are never bored, even sometimes when we want to be!

Where do you do your shopping? 

We do the majority of our grocery shopping in La Libertad.  We put ice in the coolers and load up any friends who want to go along.  It is usually 4 to 5 hours for round trip for travel and shopping.  We go about every 10 days.

It’s important to keep a good shopping list, as there is no running back to the store easily.

Some fruits and veggies, as well as eggs, are available locally.

Do you go to Montanita often?  What for? 

We go to Montanita to go to the bank, for surf board repair, and for our monthly Book Group.

What are rental prices like in the Olon area? 

Rental availability depends on time of year.  A rental that is $300 in the off season may be $800 Jan – March.  Longer term rentals are mostly found via social contacts, and are rarely advertised.  It may take a while to find what you are looking for if you are very restricted in what you can tolerate, price range, or location.

If someone wanted to rent a house, my suggestions are:  find any place you can afford for a few months in the area, meet your neighbors and talk to people.  You will probably eventually find what you want.

Understand that there are times in the center of Olon in which sleep is impossible due to celebrations in the square.  Friends that live over a mile away can hear the music.  Sometimes our dog hides under the bed and whimpers, it is so loud.  This is part of the coastal culture and there is no reason to fuss about it.  It is all part of the package:  if you are part of the neighborhood, we are all in this together.

What are average purchase prices in the area?  Know of the prices of any actual transactions? 

We searched for a lot to build upon in October/November 2013.  We bought a small lot about a half mile back from the beach.  Beach front property is available, but it is at least $100 per square meter.  Lots away from the beach can vary, but in Olon at the time we were looking were averaging $40-$50/square meter.  Land up in the hills may be as low as $20-30 per square meter.  Those lots may have additional costs for bringing in electricity and water.

Prices are going up and up.

What businesses does Olon lack and need? 

It would be very handy if Olon had an ATM.  We have to go to Montanita for cash.  There is currently one ATM in Montanita which can give more than $100, and there is a Banco Bolivariano bank with a teller and an ATM (usually $100 limit).  There is often a long line to use either ATM or to get to the teller.

The other business that would be handy is a larger grocery store.  There are small vegetable stands and a mini-Tia which has many staples.  It would be nice to have more variety close by.

Where in Olon would you recommend to live, which sectors?  And conversely are there any areas of Olon or nearby to avoid? 

Olon is very small, as are the towns north of here.  There is a choice between being right in town in Olon, on the beach, or up in the surrounding hills.  It all depends on what you want.

The main thing to understand, in my opinion, is that some of the remote areas just out of town can present access challenges during the rainy season.

Dos Mangas, to the east out of Manglaralto, has very nice lots for sale if you have a car and would like to be more up in the hills.  City water is available quite far up the road.  It is very beautiful, with jungle-like greenery yet only 20 minutes from the beach.

Where do you go for your healthcare needs? 

As far as healthcare goes, there is a doctor on the main square in Olon, and he is open several days a week.  We see him if we have a bad cold or tummy troubles.  Our regular doctor is in Cuenca, where we still have an apartment, so we see him for our regular checkups.  There is a small emergency clinic in Manglaralto, about 20 minutes from Olon.

People who are thinking of relocating to this area should be healthy and mobile.  If you have a chronic health condition in which you need to regular be treated, it is likely that you will need to go to the Salinas area (1.5 hours away) or Guayaquil (3 hours away) if you need to see a specialist.  It is a lot different from Cuenca, where several large, modern hospitals are a short taxi ride away.

People should realize that part of the charm of the area is that it is not yet as dense as Salinas, but that also means that the conveniences and amenities are fewer.  This includes serious health care.

Where do you fly into or out of?

Guayaquil is the closest major airport.  Olon is about a 3 hour bus ride or car drive from the GYE airport.  The roads are new and very good, with a new “cutoff” near San Vicente just opened in the last year.  This saves a lot of miles.  NOTE FROM DOM: JUST A FEW WEEKS AGO FLIGHTS STARTED GOING TWICE A WEEK FROM QUITO TO SALINAS.

Do you have a car?  Do you feel like you need one living in Olon?

People ask us whether it is necessary to have a car to live on the coast in Olon and the nearby communities.  While my husband and I have a car, many of the ex-pats in the area do not.  The ex—pat community is wonderful here, and we all pitch in to help each other.  For example, you cannot take a dog on the CLP bus, so we often car pool to take our dogs to the specialty vet in Guayaquil.

There are very good local drivers for the day if you need to pick up large items, although the saying is “If an item is smaller than a VW bug, you can put it on the bus.”

For about one dollar, you can take a taxi to Montanita.  The bus runs several times an hour during the day for 40 cents.

There is very good bus service to Guayaquil, and in fact if we are just going to Guayaquil for the day we often take the CLP bus.  The CLP is a “4 Star” bus, very clean, and the movies are PG rated.  (I have seen some horror flicks on other buses that have made me cringe.)  The CLP buses can be found at the Guayaquil Terminale Terrestre at window 83.  The cost is currently around $6.00.  It leaves Guayaquil at 5:00, 6:00, 9:00, 13:00, 15:00 and 16:30.  The CLP leaves from their bus station in Olon and goes to Guayaquil at 4:30, 5:30, 9:45, 12:45, 14:45 and 16:45.

Between Olon and Puerto Lopez, or Olon and Salinas, there are currently no high speed buses, but the local buses run all day.

Over the course of the year, what’s the weather in Olon really like? 

We have been told that, weather-wise, this has been a “weird” year.  Normally in January and February, it is hot during the day and heavy rains at night.  We have seen very little rain this Jan and Feb.  Our experience is cool, dreary and rainy June to November, with a few days here and then of brilliant sunshine.  November to May is mostly sunny and very warm, or hot.

We do not have aircon.  We use fans and stay almost comfortable on very hot days.  Some of the ex-pats have aircon in the bedrooms.

My husband and I actually like the off season very much:  the beach is wide open, it is nice and cool, and the town is pretty quiet.  It is a good time to get to know your neighbors.  There were times, though, that we went to Cuenca just for a bit more sunshine.

Any new infrastructure developments in the area of note? 

More streets in Olon have been paved in the last year.  Other towns nearby, including Curia and Las Nunez, have had street paving projects.  Our water is “city” water, and we do not have a cistern.  There are times when the water is turned off, either for maintenance or from usage.  In Olon, as in most of the small towns here, sewage is handled via individual septic tanks.

How do you get internet in your home?  How do most access the Internet, is it tough to get? 

My husband is retired, but I have clients in the US.  I need to have reasonable internet.  We have 2 internet connections at the house:  CNT ($30/month) and Interdatos ($35/month).  We have both so that we generally have one up if the other is down.  Also, I can be working while my husband is talking to family on Skype.

Like a lot in this area, either you can go to Santa Elena to fill out paperwork, or you can have someone help you.  In our case, friends helped us get both internets set up.

How can we get in touch with you if we want to know more? 

Please email Michele at mythprojectecuador@gmail.com.  I can provide info on our book group (second Monday of every month), on the new dog shelter, and any other help I can give.  We are all in this together.  Thanks for listening.

And to learn how to find the unpublished property deals no one else knows about, subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides, Expat Lifestyle

The Myth about Ecuador Border Runs: How to stay longer than 90 days in Ecuador as a tourist

 
Last week, we covered arguably the easiest way to get a residency visa in Ecuador, and how I got one.

The 9-V Professionals Visa, based off your university degree.

No investment, no pension required.

Believe me, compared to most countries in the world, thats easy!

For instance my brother actually married a Thai girl and he still can´t get his Thai perm residency and has to do costly monthly border runs (like a b*tch).

But Ecuador residency does have its pitfalls, like you have to be in-country at least 9 months a year for the first two years or you could lose your visa.

So if a professonal, investor or pensioner permanent resident visa doesn’t work for you the following may be the way to go.

But the wierd thing is even immigration officials in Ecuador will tell you you can’t do it.

But a friend of mine confirmed, in January of 2014, you can.

The prevailing myth regarding Ecuador tourism is you can only be in Ecuador for 3 months a year on the free automatic visa stamp you get when you enter Ecuador.

They tell you you can’t renew your tourist visa.

And that you only have 90 days a year as a tourist in Ecuador, period.

People plan their whole trips (and lives) around this fact.

Bull sh*t!

You actually can stay in Ecuador for up to 9 months a year, or even more, heck, you can stay perpetually as a mere passer-byer or ‘tourist’ with the following strategy…

It’s proven, first hand to me by a close Canadian friend of mine, as of January 2014.

Enter the country initially with just your passport (valid for more than 6 months) and get the free 3 month visa stamp.  With at least 2 weeks left on your visa stamp apply for the 6 month 12-9 ‘Acto de Comercio’ temporary visa.  You won’t have to leave the country.

Then at the end of the 9 months you’ll have to make a border run to either Peru or Colombia, you won’t even have to stay the night just walk across the border, eat lunch, and come back over.

And you’ll get an immediate 3 month free stamp once again.

Then at the end of these 3 months you’re best to get a 6 month student visa (the 12-5) or the (12-10) 6 month tourist visa without having to leave the country.

For instance there are langauage schools in Quito that will give you your registration papers (what you need for the student visa) for as little as $300.

Then rinse and repeat.

Yes, even though immigration officials are quick to tell you tourist visas in Ecuador are not renewable and border runs will not work either.

I got sucked into the lie once.

I still remember my face at an immigration outpost in Loja with 2 days left on my visa when I was told that my visa was not renewable and a border run would not work.  I don’t know why they say it like that with just a shrug.

No solutions.

You just can’t get the free 90 day tourist stamp consecutively.  You have to follow the strategy above.

But no one told me.

So I overstayed.

I had no choice.

And it was a huge hassle to get ‘legal’ again.

Don’t do that.  Stay legal so you can come and go from Ecuador freely and not worry about being able to get back in the country when you please!

Now you know what I didn’t.

So if permanent residency isn’t your thing at least now you know you can stay in Ecuador for much longer than 3 months as a mere tourist!

And for the complete breakdown of how I got my Professional Residency Visa subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A, Ecuador Travel Guides, Expat Lifestyle

Sample itineraries for the coast of Ecuador

 

Here you go, my picks for where to go as you plan your next big trip to the Ecuador coast in 2014.

THE SWIMMERS CIRCUIT: Beaches with flat ocean great for swimming, snorkeling, floating.

Fly into Guayaquil, then take the bus to Salinas.  Spend 2 days , 2 nights in Salinas and enjoy the long beach with water perfect for swimming, the expat bars and local seafood cuisine. Then head up the coast 40 minutes to the lazy cove of Ayangue for 2 nights, also known as lobster bay, also great for snorkeling, scuba, swimming and eating from one of the many fresh seafood stands on the beach.  Then head up the coast to Puerto Lopez, another cove with an ocean good for swimming and a more touristy town to boot.  Then take the 2 hour bus to Manta where you can fly out to Quito to catch your flight home.

SURF PARADISE:  The best surf in Ecuador.

Budget permitting, start your surf trek by taking a flight to San Cristobal in the Galapagos and enjoy empty rides on sapphire blue ocean all day long.  Then once back on the mainland from Guayaquil go to Playas and then the town just west of Playas, Engabao.  Then head up the coast 2 hours to Montanita.   Afer experiencing the hustle and bustle of Montanita head up the coast 40 minutes to completely secluded breaks off Ayampe and the more radical Tunas beaches.  From there, head north to Puerto Cayo, and time permitting further north to Canoa and then Mompiche.

PARTY / SINGLE SCENE:  This is where I’d go if I’m single and ready to jingle.

Start by flying into Quito, then after a short stay in Quito Airport Suites (come on, you know I had to plug it somewhere), fly to Esmeraldas.  Once in Esmeraldas go 20 minutes south to the party town of Atacames.  Try to hit the weekends.  Then head south to Canoa for a hippy, low-key, small town party scene, then head to the city of Manta to wine and dine with folks dressed to impress.  Then head south to the energetic Montanita, then on to the more refined Salinas where you can drink with expats and locals from Guayaquil.  Lastly, don’t forget a stop at Ecuadors largest city, and best for singles, musty Guayaquil.

FOLLOW THE SUN: Many beaches in Ecuador are overcast most the year, only a few aren’t.

Fly into Guayaquil and head immediately to one of the sunniest beaches in Ecuador year round, Playas.  Then head to nearby Salinas which also has a lot of sun.  After, head north to Ayangue, a desert cove which I’ve never seen overcast.  From there, you’ll want to buy more sunscreen and head north to San Clemente, another spot legendary for being consistently sunny, then skip oft overcast Canoa and fly home from Manta.

EXTREME SPORTS/ ACTION PACKED:

For thrill seekers, start the trip by trying your luck marlin fishing in Salinas.  You could also rent 4-wheelers and cruise around the point and the famous “whirlpool”.  Then head to nearby Ayangue where there is one of the few places on the coast to charter an organized scuba dive. Then head north to Puerto Rico where you can try your luck spear-fishing.  From there head north to surreal Santa Marianita a kite-surfing paradise.  From there head a an hour north to Crucita where you can soar with the birds off the cliffs of Crucita while hang-gliding.

AWAY FROM IT ALL / OFF THE BEATEN PATH:  For those of us that prefer ocean, not people.

Fly from Quito to Esmeraldas and head north to Las Penas, you’ll proably be the only foreigner around.  From there head south and skip the hustle of Atacames and insteaod opt for the secluded yet more refined Same, or the raw, gorgeous secluded beaches of Muisne, then hop a motorboat to Cojimes.   From there head south to the secluded, unnamed coves north of Jama and finish off your trip in Santa Marianita just south of Manta.   Then fly back to Quito from Manta.

EXPAT ROW:  The hottest expat destinations on the coast to date.

Fly into Guayaquil and b-line for Salinas.  Then head north to Olon, the beach just north of Montanita.  From lush, green Olon, continue to Manta where if you time it right you can hit an expat night-out.  From there head to the fastly-growing expat populations of Crucita and San Clemente.  From there head to Bahia and the Canoa area.  From Canoa catch one of the new highways back to Quito for your flight back to reality.

LUXURY/SHOPPING:  When ‘roughing it’ is not an option.

Start your trip flying in to Esmeraldas and heading straight for the all-inclusive resort near Mompiche.  Afterward head south to the city of Manta, where you can rent a luxury, oceanview, vacation rental or stay in one of the more luxury hotels on the coast like the Howard Johnson or Oro Verde.  From there head to the Barcelo of Salinas to dine away the rest of your trip.

WILDLIFE

Of course any wildlife lover should start their trip to Ecuador with a week in Galapagos.  Once on the mainland beaches go dolphin watching in Playas, or season permitting whale watching in Salinas.  From there head north to the town of Dos Mangas where you can take a nature hike to waterfalls and get chased down by several different types of Monkeys.  From there head to Puerto Lopez where you can take a tour to Isla de la Plata and bird watch.  There you can observe many of the species found on the Galapagos like the blue-footed boobies.

VACANT LAND HUNTERS: A lot of places on the Ecuador coast are already built up or are pricey, others are not.

To start fly into Manta and head south to the areas of Santa Marianita, San Lorenzo and then Puerto Cayo.  This stretch of coast still has some larger vacant lots available at reasonable prices as well as smaller lots as well whereas on the southern coast from Puerto Lopez on south where you’ll find little to no reasonably priced inventory.  Then head north to the area between San Vicente and Canoa to find deals on both larger and smaller beachfront lots.  From there, if you prefer an even bigger, remote lot try north of Canoa on that stretch of coastline all the way to Cojimes and Muisne.

OCEANVIEW CONDO HUNTERS

There’s only a few places to find oceanview condos on the rural coast of Ecuador.  Start in Salinas, then try Manta, Bahia and lastly Tonsupa in the north. That’s it.

21 DAY BEST OF THE BEST: Simply the best beaches, but more of them.  This is where I’d go.
Start by flying into Quito and then on to Esmeraldas where you can work from the top down.  Once in the Esmeraldas area be sure to bunk up in nearby Atacames where you’ll find the best and cheapest hotel options in the area.  While sleeping in Atacames be sure to explore nearby Tonsupa, Sua and Same on Tuk Tuk.  After 3 nights in the area, head south to secluded, way off the beaten path Muisne for the largest beach in Ecuador.  From there check out nearby Mompiche, a true hidden palm-laden paradise.  Then eat a seafood lunch on the malecon of Pedernales as you head south to Canoa.   Base yourself in Canoa for 3 nights as you explore and settle into the area.  From Canoa continue south to Bahia to have lunch and look around before continuing to San Clemente.  Rent a condo or house in San Clemente to experience true small town beach life in Ecuador, from there head to Manta where you can buy any modern conveniences you’ve been without the last 2 weeks before heading out to Santa Marianita a true diamond in the rough.  From Santa Marianita continue south through Puerto Cayo for some of the best oceanviews of the coast.  From Cayo, skip Puerto Lopez and istead opt to sleep in more relaxed and picturesque Ayampe or Puerto Rico to the south.  The waves here will impress you.  From Ayampe go south to Olon and eat shrimp on the beach in between horseback rides on the enormous golden beach popular with expats.  From Olon catch a $1.50 cab south to Montanita, a true surf and party mecca on the Ecuadorian coast.  If anything go just to dine and people watch for a day or two.  If youd like to be near Montanita but not sleep in it, try a rental in the small town next door of Manglaralto.   From Manglaralto, head south to Ayangue if scuba is your thing, if not skip it and continue right on to Salinas, a great low-effort place to finish your journey of the coast.

 

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Where’s best for you on the coast of Ecuador?

Like flat oceans good for swimming?  

Or maybe rockin’ waves?  

How about lush green jungle right to the water’s edge?

Or dry-as-a-bone landscapes with low humidity?  

For such a small country, the Ecuador coast has it all… so where should you begin?

Here are my top picks…

flat ocean good for swimming, snorkeling- Salinas, Ayangue, Punta Blanca

surf towns/ good waves- Montanita, Ayampe, Playas, Canoa, Mompiche

Sunniest beaches- San Clemente, Playas

wide, flat beaches good for walking- Playas, Olon, Atacames, Muisne

scuba / hand gliding / kiteboarding / fishing- Ayangue (scuba), Canoa, Crucita (hand gliding), Santa Marianita (kite boarding), Salinas (fishing)

green, lush right up to water edge- Olon, Ayampe, Jama, Mompiche, Muisne, Same, Puerto Cayo

dry, brown, low humidity and less mosquitos- Salinas, Playas, Punta Blanca, Ballenita, Santa Marianita, Manta, Crucita, Machalilla, Cadeate, Valdivia

Quiet spots near the action and shopping- Ballenita, Crucita, Manglaralto, Olon, Canoa, Atacames, Tonsupa

Bigger cities with health care- Salinas+ Santa Elena, Manta, Esmeraldas, Bahia, Pedernales

White sand beaches- Playa Rosada, Muisne, Atacames, Tortuga Bay (Galapagos), Isabela Island (Galapagos)

Palm tree forests to waters edge- Cojimes, Muisne

Established expat community- Salinas, Olon, Puerto Lopez, Manta, Crucita, San Clemente-San Jacinto, Bahia

Off the beaten track/ no foreigners- La Libertad, Chanduy, Palmar, Valdivia, La Entrada, Tunas, Pedernales, Cojimes, Muisne, Esmeraldas

People watch/ women in bikinis, men in thongs/ party towns- Montanita, Canoa, Atacames

Beachfront condos in highrises- Salinas, Manta, Bahia, Tonsupa

Large lots of vacant beach land- Jama area, Cojimes, Muisne

Gated beach communities- Manta area, Salinas area

Beachfront property on smaller lots- Same, San Clemente-San Jacinto, Ballenita, Cadeate, Canoa

Bird and wildlife watching- Isla de la Plata (Puerto Lopez), Everywhere in Galapagos

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Where to sleep for cheap in Ecuador? My budget picks.

Want to know where to sleep for cheap in Ecuador?

Considering I don’t really have an official home, it’s safe to say I spend a lot of time in hotels. 

So, here are my value picks for all over Ecuador, in other words, where I stay. 

You won’t see the Hilton or Marriot on this list. 

Yes, they’re in the big cities of Ecuador, but if you’re going to stay in a Marriot, why not save yourself the flight and do it in your backyard, cause they’re all the same anyway.  Not much of a way to experience a country.

Most of my picks you won’t find on the net, nor will you be able to reserve beforehand, so just show up and maybe I’ll be there. 

And you’ll quickly notice that rates on the coast and in the smaller towns are much cheaper than in the bigger cities.

Except for my new place in Quito that opened this week and my place in Guayaquil, I dont have any affiliation with any of them except maybe friendship… here goes:

Cotacachi: 
Hostal El Arbolito, Calle Imbabura N 911.  Right on the main square of Cotacachi, spacious well cared for rooms starting at $25/single $40/double.

Otavalo:
Hostal America Inter, Sucre y Quiroga.  Right on the main indigenous market everyone goes to Otavalo to see, renovated rooms with WIFI and private parking suffice starting at $10/person. 

Ibarra:
High end: Hotel La Giralda, Av. Atahaulpa y Juan Francisco Bonilla.  The rooms are cramped but borderline luxury and the assortment of crepes available in the restaurant is to die for, really good, I eat there whenever I pass by Ibarra.  Has pool.  Rates start at $44/single, $58/double.

Budget: Hostal El Dorado, Oviedo 5-41 y Sucre.  Simple, bland, clean place right in the old town center with WIFI, hard to beat the $10/person asking price.  Even better, eat at the Giralda, sleep here.

Quito:
In town… Hostal Veintimilla, Amazonas y Veintimilla.  Whenever I have to stay in town I usually gravitate here, love the location near both the Mariscal traveler/nightlife district and the old town.  Right where a tourist wants to be.  Good cable TV channels in English, Wifi in some of the rooms, and newly refinished bedrooms.  Some may not like the location for the occasional night walkers looming on the city streets outside.  Rates start at $13 per person.

Near new airport:  Of course I’d have to recommend my new place that opened 3 days ago, Quito Airport Suites.  Set a few blocks from the entrance of the new airport, relax in an old Spanish Hacienda setting with WIFI internet, room service, an English speaking staff and airport transfers available 24/7.  Avoid the hour and a half drive to Quito and sleep better while you’re at it.

Mindo:
Dragonfly Inn:  This hotel is my pick for budget travelers, right where you want to be within walking distance of most of the points in the town with wooden rooms. Clean, safe, simple rooms starting around $20 per person.

Latacunga:
Villa de Tacvnga:  An old Spanish colonial turned hotel, the rooms have WIFI and heaters (needed here) and the restaurant has some great dishes (try the trout).   

Banos:
Hostal Nomada, diagonal to the bus station.  Love the location in town and near the bus station and within walking distance to the spas.  The rooms are surprisingly nice for the price ($10/person) but there is no WIFI. 

Puyo:
Hostal Las Palmas, 20 de Julio y 4 de Enero.  This colorful hotel has macaws walking around the lobby and has a character all its own.  Right in town, my pick when in the area.  Rates $15/single $26/double.  

Cuenca:
High end:  Casa del Barranco, Calle Larga.  Right where a tourist wants to be in Cuenca, on the gorgeous Tomebamba River in the Old Town and on the street Calle Larga where most of the cities best restaurants and bars are just a few steps away.  Rates $30/single, $44 double.

Budget:  Hostal Majestic.  Just a block or two from the center of the old town and Parque Calderon, despite the creeky floors and dark rooms this is my pick when I want to save money on a sleep in Cuenca with rates from $8-10 per person. 

Loja:
Hotel Prado Internacional, right on the edge of the old town in Loja this hotel is one of the best value picks in all of Ecuador with luxury-class rooms, an elevator, and a rooftop restaurant with delicious food like the filet mignon and t-bone while enjoying the stunning view of the town for very reasonable prices (approx $25/single, $40/double).  Ask for the owner Lucia, very helpful, tell her Dom sent you.

Vilcabamba:
High end: Madre Tierra.  This hotel-spa doesn’t skimp on the spa portion of the business offering a full array of relaxing treatments at very reaosnable prices.  The restaurant is particularly good, once again try the filet mignon. 

Budget:  Hotel Mandango.  I know the name of this hotel sounds like it should be the name of a male p-o-r-n star, but its actually a decent budget place to sleep right on the outskirts of town with no frills rooms but at $6-8 per person you can’t expect much.  My pick, but Ill go eat in Madre Tierra. 

Zamora:
Eco-lodge Copalinga: A hydro-powered nature lodge great for hummingbird watching right at the entrance of the beautiful Podocarpus Natural Park. (From $25 per person).

Guayaquil: 
Murali Hostal, Garzota 2 Calle La Salle y Tercer Callejon Mz 135, V 7.  At just 2 blocks from the airport entrance and 1 block from the vans to Cuenca and bus terminal this is the ideal place to stay in the more affluent and less noisy north of town if just passing through Guayaquil.  OK, plus I’m the owner.  :)

Playas: 
Hotel Nevada with rooms from $20 per person per night, mainly because of the proximity to both the beach and center of town, also you’re right across the street form some delicious restaurants.

Salinas:
Hostal Aqui is the top expat hangout/bar/hostel in town with rooms starting around $20 per person its a clean, safe, friendly option.

Hostal Marnier, nothing special, but it is also a good pick if looking for a cheaper, safe place to crash for the night somewhat near the beach with prices starting aroud $10 per person. 

Ayangue:
Oasis Ayangue.  Relax between scuba dives at this friendly Canadian-owned hostel/bar/restaurant.  One block off the beach, has pool and some good thin crust pizza.  Tell Paul and Denise I said hi.  Rates start at $15 per person. 

Montanita:
The OCEANVIEW HOTEL on the outskirts of the main town just out of the heavy noise and right on the beach with newly finished rooms with WIFI starting around $10/person per night.  Friendly owners who should charge more, just dont tell them, ask for Tony or Evelyn, tell them Dom said hi.  For longer stays consider my bungalows with oceanviews, WIFI and kitchenettes. 

Ayampe:
LA BUENA VIDA Hosteria… American owned, they also offer surf classes upon request, the rooms are elegant and well sealed against bugs and they feel like they should cost more than they do. Rooms start around $20 per person.

Puerto Lopez:
Im not a big fan of Puerto Lopez so when I get stuck in the area I will usually sleep in the bungalows of the friendly indigenous community just a quick cab ride away in Aguas Blancas in the Natural Park Machalilla.  Hike, take mud baths, mix with locals, sleep for around $10/person. 

Manta:
Not a big fan of the overpriced manta hotels, so i stay in the no frills Hotel Leo: This hotel is my pick for budget travelers, right in the center of town and across from the bus terminal.  Clean, safe, simple rooms with TV and fan await you starting around $12 per person.

Crucita:
For a clean, safe, Spartan, budget option right on the boardwalk I recommend the Marlin Hostal, $15 per person.

Canoa:
My top choice for a quiet, clean, safe place right on the beach is the Hostal Playa Azul, at $8 per person for a private room with a shared bath or $10 per person for a private room with a private bath. 

Bahia:
High-end: La Herradura Hotel, the only hotel right on the boardwalk, ocean front in Bahia.  The hotel has an upscale restaurant and prices start from $20 for the single room, $40 for the double.  Ask for one of the few rooms with an ocean view! 

For budget travelers I recommend y personal fav, La Bahia Hotel, right in front of the Puerto Amistad Bar-Restaurant or the expat hang out of town.  The rooms are Spartan but clean and the price is right, $8 per person and $16 for a double.

Pedernales:
Hotel Arenas, a few blocks from the beach with cable TV and well kept rooms starting around $10 per person.

Machala:
For budget travelers I’d stay at the Hotel Mosqueto, 2 blocks from the main plaza right beside Hotel Montecarlo, singles with fan $12. Acceptable, simple place.  For bigger budgets looking for nice AC rooms, I’d try Hotel Montecarlo (all the taxis know it) 2 blocks form the main plaza. Single $30, Double rooms $40.

There you have it, my picks, as you can see you dont have to break the bank to sleep in Ecuador!

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37 Absolute ‘Must dos’ in Ecuador for 2013

lake ecuador
A lake just south of Quito near the Ilinizas National Park.

It’s the end of the year.

You’re probably making your New Year’s resolutions and planning what you’d like ot do, be and have in 2013.

I know sometimes it can be hard to find the time, but you never know how long you’ll live, and I’d make a case that Ecuador is one of those few countries in the world that is really worth seeing.

So stop putting it off.

Hard to find such variety in a country the size of Nevada.

Below is my personal Ecuador bucket list for 2013.

Things I just got to do.

1. Watch the Tungurahua Volcano erupt at night from the look out over Banos. Tours can be arranged in one of the many agencies in Baños. Cost $20 per person.

2. Visit the gold mine in Zaruma where resident Spaniards found a 2 and ½ pound piece of gold and gifted it to King Felipe II several hundred years ago, causing the king such joy he decided to lower the taxes for everyone living in Ecuador. The mine is called “El Sexmo” and is now open to tourists with guided tours from actual nearby miners. Free.

3. Observe the amazing Pink river dolphins as they frollic in the unique flooded rainforest of Cuyabeño in northern Ecuador. Tours can be arranged once on the ground out of Quito or Lago Agrio. Canoe Tours start from $40 per person.

4. Scuba dive in the crystalline waters of Galapagos off Floreana Island with hammerheads and whale sharks. 2 Dives start from around $130. Best arranged once on the ground in Santa Cruz Island near the port in Puerto Ayora with local dive shops.

5. Snorkel with the worlds smallest penguin, gigantic manta rays, big marine iguanas and (friendly) reef sharks off las Tintoreras on the picturesque snow-white sands and turqoise waters off Isabela Island in the Galapagos. Day tours to Isabela arranged in Santa Cruz start around $65/person.

6. Eat two buckets of the locally-famous garlic crab at one of the best crabhouses (Manny’s Crangrejal) in Guayaquil, a city known for its numerous crabhouses. Near San Marino Mall any taxi will know where it is. $12.

7. Hunt for fossils along the banks of the Nangaritza River, the only river that connects the Amazon to the Pacific Ocean, high in the Condor Mountain Ridge (Cordillera del Condor). For more try lindoecuadortours.com $25-50 /person.

8. Deep-sea fish for Marlin and Whale-watch in August off the calm shores of Salinas. Trips can be arranged in one of the several agencies along the boardwalk. Cost: Whalewatching from $20 per person, deep sea fishing price varies depending on amount of people.

9. Bike on a rented bicycle from the city of Puerto Ayora in the Galapagos to the deserted, idyllic beach of El Garrapatero while passing through over a dozen micro-climates and witnessing the giant Galapagos tortoises grazing in their natural habitat. Cost: $5.

10. Visit a chocolate farm near Guayaquil and learn the whole process of how to make chocolate from harvest to belly. Get more info here.

11. Hummingbird watch and observe thousands of butterflies in the cloud rainforests of Mindo. Tours can be arranged once in Mindo. Start from $20/person.

12. Climb Cotopaxi, one of the worlds highest active volcanoes at 19347ft / 5897m with a guide arranged in Quito, I’ve been told even beginners can do it!

13. Explore the massive, underground lava tunnels on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos. Free.

14. Trout fish in one of the surreal apline lakes in the barren Cajas National Park near Cuenca. Tours can be arranged with Terra Diversa in Cuenca.

15. Go way off the beaten path and discover the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) of Ecuador’s Amazon. Extreme adventure available through local guides only out of Nangaritza. Cost: Highly negotiable.

16. Pamper myself with a the natural mud bath in the mud pools in the dry rainforest of Machalilla National Park and spend the night playing volleyball with the local indigenous and later sleeping in one of their tiki huts. From Puerto Lopez hire a motorcycle taxi and pay a few bucks from them to take you to the indigenous community of Aguas Blancas in the park. Cost: $10 for the day tour to the mud baths and $10/person for the night.

17. View the thousands of Orchid species growing wild along the well-kept trails of the Podocarpus National Park easily reached in a $4 taxi ride from the town of Zamora. Free entrance to park.

18. Hike the 10km trek from El Tambo to Ingapirca, ancient Incan ruins and effectively Ecuador’s own “Machu Picchu”. You can also take a train, taxi or bus which can be arranged out of Canar. Ruins Entrance fee $6.

19. Get certified as a glider plane pilot in Ibarra through a one month course with a local flight instructor. They say if you can fly a plane without an engine you can fly a plane with one. Course starts around $1300. 2013 prices yet to be released. For more info write me here.

20. Visit the worlds only birds that live in a cave, in the only cave they live in at the CUEVA DE LOS TAYOS. Tours arranged out of Macas. Prices vary.

21. Tailgate, then enter a game in Quitos rowdy Atahaulpa Stadium as the National Soccer team attempts to qualify for the next World Cup in Brazil. The cheap seats start around $10.

22. Learn to kite surf with an instructor against the strangly barren cliff landscapes of Santa Marianita near Manta. Classes can be arranged on site. Prices vary.

23. Party with fun locals along the infamous Plaza Foch in Quito during Quitos Festival Week “Fiestas de Quito” the first week of December. Free if you can find a sugar-momma/pappa to buy you drinks.

24. Take a tour of a Banana plantation in Machala and learn all the ins and outs of the interesting business with CristyViajes. Tours start around $20 per person.

25. Fish for Pirana in Laguna Pañacocha, a beautiful black wáter lake backed by cloud forests. To get there, hire a local canoe where the Rio Panacayu meets the Rio Napo, to get there you’ll need to take a Nuevo Rocafuerte Canoe hired in the town of Coca. Price varies depending on season.

26. Bike the wonderful 7 hour (60km) downhill ride from the high Andes to the mouth of the Amazon in Puyo and witness the furious waterfall of Baños “Pilon de Diablo”. Bike can easily be rented in Banos. Cost: $5

27. Soak in the odd street water-wars during Carnaval in February in Cuenca where everyone goes around throwing water balloons and soaking random strangers with water guns. Free.

28. Hike the Quillotoa Volcano and witness the majestic, stunning turquoise-colored lake in the volcano’s crater. Can be done solo by taking a bus from Latacunga and getting off near the base. Cost: $4 bus fare from Latacunga.

29. Experience the naughty, packed, full-moon-style New Year’s Eve party in Montanita. Free if you sleep on the beach in a tent (doable), just don’t bring valuables.

30. Mingle with sexy locals dressed to the tilt during the 2 hour river-boat cruise on the all-you-can-drink boat ‘Morgans’ which leaves every night from the boardwalk (Malecon) of Guayaquil. Can be arranged out of my B&B in Guayaquil. $15 per person includes all you can drink.

31. Follow the rarely-visited path of the world-famous indigenous Shuar who were the ones that originated the practice of shrinking the heads of their conquered enemies. Tours now available with local guides through Macas or Zamora. Prices vary.

32. Learn to kayak in the lazy to fierce Andean rivers around the city of Ibarra with Natural Adventures. Prices vary.

33. Devour delicious seafood at the locally-famous “Parque de Mariscos” along the beach in Manta heading towards the airport. Specifically I want to eat a ‘Cazuela’ Soup, an amazing nut-based fish soup truly unique to Ecuador. Cost: $6.

34. Have a 10 minute long conversation in Spanish with a local after a month long Spanish crash course at the highly recommended Galapagos Spanish School in Quito. Cost: one-on-one classes with real teachers start around $6/hr.

35. Dance salsa to afro-latino beats on the white-sand beaches at moonlight in a beach bar near Esmeraldas after eating the local delicacy of Shrimp cooked in spiced coconut milk (encocado de camaron). I’m sure I’ll feel like I’m in the Caribbean. Cost: $5-6.

36. Visit the perplexing, friendly afro-ecuadorian community of Chota in the middle of the Andes near Otavalo and have a local Shaman (witch doctor) cleanse away my worries. Cost: $5 bus fare from Quito.

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Playas: The sunniest beach in Ecuador

playas ecuador

Playas won’t impress you on first sight, but stick around long enough and it could grow on you. With a very expansive beach almost New England style, delicious seafood, and Dolphin watching excursions, it’s got just enough to keep you occupied during a short stay. It’s also known as the sunniest beach in Ecuador.

Where to stay?

– My pick is the Hotel Nevada with rooms from $20 per person per night, mainly because of the proximity to both the beach and center of town, also you’re right across the street form some delicious restaurants.

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Montanita: Where the party never stops

montanita ecuador

Montanita is coastal Ecuador’s undisputed top party town. With a hippy vibe and Bob Marley music in the air (among other things) for anyone who likes to surf, drink and dance this is your place.

For many older folk the noise here is only bearable for short stints, but even if you don’t sleep here, be sure to stop by to enjoy the incredibly varied cuisine.

What to do?

– Sex, drugs and rock and roll Ecuador-style.

– Rent a surf board or boogie board.

– Take a horse back tour in nearby Olon.

– Study Spanish in the Montanita Spanish School.

– Go para-sailing.

Where to stay?

– My top value pick in the town is OCEANVIEW HOTEL on the outskirts of the main town right on the beach with recently finished rooms with WIFI starting around $10/person per night.

Rent a house in nearby Manglaralto and sleep far away from the noise.

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Salinas: Weekend resort turned expat hot-spot

salinas ecuador

Ahhh, Salinas.

At first I didn’t like the place, but now, I really like it. The older you get the more it grows on you. Eerily empty for 9 months a year, this place is like an empty Miami Beach except for on weekends when the local affluent with second homes here come to play on the beach.

The ocean is flat and great for swimming, the food along the Malecon/Boardwalk is great, and the dry climate is ideal for people who want to escape humidity.

Whale watching in the July, August and September months beats Puerto Lopez.

Where to stay?

Hostal Aqui is the most popular expat bar/guesthouse in town with rooms starting around $20 per person its a clean, safe, friendly option.

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Ayampe: A surfers paradise yet to be discovered

ayampe ecuador

ayampe ecuador

I first visited Ayampe in 2009 when a friend told me, ‘hey, you gotta see this place, it’s going to be the next Montanita’.

Well, it hasn’t quite turned into the next Montanita but it has soared with development since then.

Known for its under the radar, uncrowded waves, surfing is good here. For those who are adventurous bird watching, although not formally offered in tours is also good in the highlands.

Where to stay?

My value pick is LA BUENA VIDA Hosteria… American owned, they also offer surf classes upon request, the rooms are elegant and feel ike they should cost more than they do. Rooms start around $15 per person.

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Puerto Lopez: Is it more than just whales?

puerto lopez ecuador

Puerto Lopez can grow on you. At first I didn’t like it but now I’m coming around, renowned for its whale watching during the July-October months, Puerto Lopez actually has a bit more than that.

The food is excellent and the trips to the ‘poor mans Galapagos’, Isla de la Plata leave from here. Another highlight for me is the nearby Machalilla Park where you can sleep with the natives and frolic on one of the most beautiful beaches in Ecuador, Los Frailes, all within about .

Where to stay?

My value pick is the Machalilla Hostal on Juan Montalvo, the central courtyard is borderline nice and the location near the beach is hard to beat. Rooms start around $8 per person.

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Same: Where the ‘stars’ go

Same Ecuador

Same has arguably one of the most beautiful palm laden beaches in all of Ecuador, and its pricey too with resorts and expensive guesthouses for the local rich.

Where to stay?

My pick is La Terraza complete with a restaurant and rooms with sea-views, its hard to beat the value here with prices starting at $15 per person.

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Manglaralto: Montanita without the noise

manglaralto ecuador

Manglaralto is the town just south of Montanita, in fact you can walk there along the beach in about 25 minutes.

No noise, about 3 roads parallel to the ocean, just like a coastal Ecuadorian town should be. The roosters in the morning are the biggest annoyance.

Theres not much surf here or other things to do besides lounge on the beach, but for most that will suffice.

Where to stay?

For a bare-bones good enough place you could try the Hotel Manglaralto with rates starting at $12 per person per night.

Or you could rent a tiki hut or house at Casa Blanca.

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Is Sua worth a visit?

sua ecuador

Sua ia the way a laid back fishing village should be, or at least exactly how you picture it I’m sure. I’d stop if relaxation is your main goal.

Where to stay?

Hostal Chagra Rama is my pick with weathered yet safe rooms starting at $9 per person.

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Atacames: The ‘whitest’ beach in Ecuador

Atacames Ecuador

Atacames is rumored to have the ‘whitest’ sand in all of Ecuador, but I’d say it also has one of the widest, biggest beaches in Ecuador as well.

A party town with an Afro-caribbean flavor in Ecuador, this is where the folks from Quito come to party from June through September.

Things to do?

– Party along the boardwalk with the rowdy young locals.
– Work on your tan in the daytime.

Where to stay?

My value pick is the Le Castel right on the beach with a swimming pool on site. You’ll think you need to pay more for the room you’re put in with rates starting around $20 pr person varying on season.

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Where to stay in Porto Viejo?

porto viejo

Not much to see or do in PortoViejo but it is a main connection hub between the north and south coast so chances are you may find yourself stuck there sooner or later.

My value pick is the Hotel New York on the cnr of Olmedo y Francisco de Moreira with simple, clean rooms and most importantly in this town, AC, rooms start at $20 per person.

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Gualaquiza, a neat, hidden outpost no one knows about

gualaquilza ecuador

Gualaquiza is a small town of around 15,000 people in the Southern Amazon region of Ecuador. The people are friendly and the backdrop is beautiful as the area is surrounded by lush rainforest.

What to do?

Visit the bike shop Ciclos on Orellana 4-35 and rent a bike and enjoy the excellent 3 hour bike ride to La FLorida.

Bath in one of the numerous rivers at one of the several sandy beaches.

Where to stay?

My pick is the Hotel Internacional on Cuenca Ave. with simple, clean rooms starting around $10 per person.

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Pedernales: Ecuador’s version of Florianapolis, Brazil

pedernales-ecuador

Every time I come to this city I’m awed by the character and bravado of this small coastal city. The hilly streets leading down to the ocean are always full of something interesting to see, the locals are friendly, and the foreigners are scarce. The beach isn’t so nice but the food along the boardwalk is to die for. I’m sorry but this place reminds me of Florianapolis, Brazil.

Where to stay?

My value pick is Hotel Arenas, a few blocks from the beach with cable TV and well kept rooms starting around $10 per person.

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Macas, worth a visit?

Macas Ecuador

Macas is an interesting mix of old and new with new buildings jutting up from crumbling streets. Most choose to go to northern jungle towns like Tena, but for those who like off the beaten track destinations Macas wont disappoint.

-Kayak the Upano River with class III rapids through one of the local outfitters.

– Take a waterfall tour with Planeta Tours on Comin at Soasti.

– Visit a nearby Shuar community thourgh a guided tour only.

Where to stay?

My value pick is Hotel Level 5 on the corner of Sucre y Soasti, a big glass hotel thats clean and cheap with rooms starting at $10 per person.

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Free 2014 Ecuador Property Price Guide

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