Ecuador Coast Information
The Ecuadorian Coast offers a lot, from the tropical wet forest at the north to the savannas of the center and the dry forest of the west and south. You can visit unique mangroves, some archeological excavations and beautiful places for a perfect coast vacation. You will find many fishing villages and stunning beaches with cristal clear water. Besides all these beautiful places the Ecuadorian Coast line also offers delicious and fresh seafood.
The weather at the coast is mostly warm. There are two season, wet and dry. From December to May it is warm and humid, the rest of the year is drier and a bit cooler.
You should not miss the beautiful untouched coastline that stretches for 2,000 kilometers from North to South. We offer various tours along the coast, and it is also possible to build your own tour. Below you will find more specific “Ecuador Coast Information.”
Ruta del Sol
“Ruta del Sol” (also called Ruta del Spondylus) is basically the route along Ecuador’s Pacific Coast. Traveling along this route, either from North to South or from South to North, you will see the many highlights this part of Ecuador offers: beautiful beaches, important archeological sites, an island with a hidden treasure, great wildlife, and much more.
While during summer (from July to September) the weather is rather cold and windy on the Southern and Central Ecuadorian coast, it’s the best time of the year for whale watching. The weather on the Northern Coast is warm and offers great swimming year-round.
The Machalilla National Park
The Machalilla National Park is Ecuador’s only National Park on the Pacific coast. This protected area encompasses an area of about 55,000 ha. Its diverse landscapes include cloud forest, dry forest, coastal scrub and beaches. The park is home to many different birds like boobies, albatrosses, pelicans, and frigate birds. Many mammals also live here, among them two species of monkeys. A special highlight during your coast vacation is of course the observation of the humpback whales (see below).
From December to May the weather in Machalilla is humid and hot, from May to December the climate is cooler and the sky often stays overcast.
Apart from the natural beauty that you can admire, the Machalilla National Park has also some important archeological sites of the Chorrera and Salango cultures. These sites are situated at Rio Buenavista and in the community of Agua Blanca, dating back to 1,500 – 500 BC and 3,000 BC.
The whale watching season on Ecuador’s coast is from June to October. During this time, the southern hemisphere’s winter, the humpback whales make their way from the cold Antarctic to the tropical waters of Ecuador and Colombia. They come to Ecuador to breed, because their calves are born with a thin isolating layer and therefore need warmer waters to survive. Humpbacks are about 12 -15 meters long and weigh about 30 tons. For this size they are quite acrobatic and like to hit the water with their flippers, which are the largest of all whales. Whale watching trips can be organized from different places on the coast, many tours start from Puerto Lopez and combine whale watching with a visit to the Isla de la Plata.
Isla de la Plata
The Isla de la Plata (Silver Island) was named after a silver treasure that Sir Francis Drake is said to have hidden there. It lies just off the coast of Puerto Lopez and is also known as Little Galapagos because you can find some of the same species of animals and birds here. For example, many blue-footed boobies but also pelicans, frigate birds, and albatrosses, as well as sea lions, sea turtles, and colorful fishes. A special highlight from June to October is the observation of humpback whales from the same boat that takes you to the island.
Coastal Towns and Beaches
Mompiche is located on the Northern Ecuadorian Coast just south of Muisne in the Esmeraldas Province. It is a tropical paradise with a 16 kilometer long black beach, exotic birds and unique vegetation. Mompiche is close to the Mache Chindul Nature Reserve, which is a mangrove and dry forest area. During your coast vacation you will see ebony and oak trees as well as agoutis, pacas, howler monkeys, and other exotic animals – if you’re lucky. Mompiche’s beach is especially a beach for surfers because of the great waves. Enjoy watching them, ride horses on the beach or a do a bird watching tour at the mangroves.
Another beach is located 30 km southwest of Esmeraldas and 6 kilometers from Atacames called Same. It is one of the more exclusive areas in Esmeraldas province which offers a hotel with a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts and a marina. This is a perfect place for relaxing, because the 2 kilometer long beach is really quiet. If you are looking for more action, such as bars and clubbing, Atacames is not far away and offers great nightlife.
Close to Machalilla National Park is the charming beach town of Puerto Lopez. Puerto Lopez offers nice options of beachfront accommodation and is the ideal base for excursions to the area’s beaches. You can do a day trip to the nearby Machalilla National Park and the Isla de la Plata or relax at one of the area’s sunny beaches (keep in mind the two different seasons).
Los Frailes Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Ecuador. It is located 12 km away from Puerto Lopez and a great opportunity for a day trip. The beach is part of the Machalilla National Park and so it is only accessible via gated access. The water is warm, crystal clear and a great spot for snorkelers. Around the rocks you will see a variety of colorful fishes. There is also an easy way going up to a rock for some great view points where you can enjoy the spectacular ocean view.
Las Tunas is located in the province of Manabi, 18 km south of Puerto Lopez. The warm, tranquil water and the white sands offer a great romantic getaway for couples. There are just a few hotels, with some lining the beach and others located in the village. This is a great opportunity for couples who want to enjoy the beach in peace but also have easy access to tourism attractions like Machalilla National Park or the nightlife of the area.
Bahía de Caraquez is a small peninsula on the western coast on the mouth of the Chone River, about one hour from the city of Manta. With the small Mediterranean-style houses it is a very tranquil city and calls itself ‘Eco-city’ because of different initiatices and projects supporting sustainable and ecological development, education, and tourism.
Close to Bahía lies the beautiful beach of Canoa. With about 17 kilometers it is the longest beach in Ecuador. People come here to relax, paraglide, surf and party. The small traditional fishing village offers bars as well as small shops that sell arts and crafts.
Province Santa Elena
Montañita Ecuador’s best surf spot with a hippy atmosphere attracts many backpackers from all over the world. International and national surf competitions are hold in this fast-growing beach town. Don’t expect some quiet days when you go to Montañita. The bars start playing loud music at lunch time and end early in the morning. If fun and nightlife in a laid-back atmosphere is what you’re looking for, Montañita is your ideal destination on Ecuador’s coast.
Salinas is a nice beach town which attracts many weekend guests from Guayaquil. Jet- and waterski, paddleboats, parasols, crowded bars and convoys of cars along the promenade form the landscape on weekends. A bit outside of town in the Sektor Chipipe is a nicer and quieter beach. Those who want to avoid the crowd should visit the town during the week when it’s quiet and tranquil.
The coast is Ecuador’s most interesting region for archaeology. Relics from the first sedentary tribe, the Valdivias, were found here.
In the following places you can visit important museums and archaeological excavations:
The tribe of Valdivias lived from the agriculture near the coast and on the peninsula Santa Elena. A famous place to visit is the village Valdivia. Today you can visit several museums and an exhibition. Very important here is the “Venus of Valdivia” which is a famous statue made of ceramic. There are many figurines, and each shows a women. As every woman has a different aspect, it is said that they represent real people.
Another one of the regional cultures is the Jama-Coaque, who lived in the Manabí Province. In the small town of the same name, Jama, you can visit an interesting museum where you can see valuable artifacts.
Close to Ecuador’s biggest city Guayaquil another important archeological excavation site is located: Real Alto. It is one of the oldest villages in South America and was part of the culture of the Valdivias. The earliest inhabitants, about 50 people, probably lived here 6,000 years ago. But the village grew and soon it was an important centrum for the culture. In 2,500 BC there lived about 1,250 people. The very interesting Real Alto Museum is well worth a visit, offering travelers insight into this ancient culture and the discoveries made at the archaeological site.