Ask your average Jo his dream holiday destination, and the chances of him answering “Ecuador” are, let’s be honest, pretty remote. But maybe that’s about to change… with enough sun, sea, sand and sangria to keep even the hardest to please holidaymaker happy, 2019 could well be the year Ecuador takes its place as one of the hottest destinations in Latin America. Let’s take a look at its top 5 beach destinations to see why.
If you like your beach holiday to come with modern comforts and easy access to all-day, all- night entertainment, the beach-side town of Salinas is the place for you. With excellent amenities, a vibrant nightlife, enough outdoor activities to suit every taste and budget, amazing weather and a stunning stretch of beach, Salinas has it all. During the day, visitors have their choice between whale watching, surfing, parasailing, or, for the brave, skydiving. Those who prefer a more relaxing experience can take succor in the vast array of nearby thermal baths and spas. If the non-stop delights of Salinas get too much, weary holidaymakers can make the short trek to nearby Libertad, a much quieter, peaceful alternative.
With a vibrant expat scene, Montañita has a justified reputation as the best party town in the whole of Ecuador. However, don’t be fooled into thinking this pretty little destination has nothing to offer but bars, clubs and all-night drinking… known as a surfing mecca throughout the world, Montañita attracts thousands of water sport junkies every year to its beautiful stretch of sandy coastline. With balmy year-round temperatures and low rainfall, there really isn’t a bad time to visit Montañita, but perhaps the best time is February, when visitors can take in the sights, smells, and sounds of Carnival. During the rest of the year, holidaymakers will be sufficiently entertained with the host of water sports on offer, the excellent wining and dining opportunities, and, for party lovers who can’t resist a rave, the local beachside music festivals.
Canoa/Bahía de Caráquez
If you like visiting hot, up- and- coming spots before anyone else, get yourself down to the beach-side towns of Canoa and Bahia de Caráquez. Canoa is a small, friendly town, historically beloved of surfers and backpackers the world over. Visitors have their choice of actives, which range from the active (yoga classes, surf lessons, paragliding) to the inspirational (the local James Dean Byrd Foundation offers volunteering opportunities at the local grammar school). If that all sounds a little too sweaty or worthy for your tastes, feel free to lie back on the golden stretch of sand, sample some delicious local ceviche, and drink coconut water fresh from the fruits of overhanging trees. If that’s not sufficiently indulgent, check out nearby Bahia, a fabulously highbrow spot that, in recent years, has become a favorite calling point for world class yachters. A word to the wise… If you want to see the town before the rest of us, you’ll need to be quick on your feet. Its relaxed, hippy vibe is about to be threatened as rapid expansionist plans aim to capitalize on the town’s potential as a premier tourist destination, and catapult into the big time.
If you’ve ever been to Jaco in Costa Rica, then the Ecuadorian fishing village of Crucita will feel very familiar. Both share similar histories as hot spots for adrenaline junkies (although while Jaco appealed to surfers, Crucita was a bigger draw to paragliders and handglides). The town has a thriving expat scene, a rapidly developing infrastructure, and a great location – its central position makes big city life in Manta and Portoviejo as easy to access as it is to escape from. Despite rapid expansion in recent years, Crucita retains an old world, tranquil charm, making it an ideal spot for holidaymakers looking for a calming, relaxing destination within spitting distance of local amenities.
If all these suggestions sound too frantic, try the sleepy fishing of Mompiche for size. Rustic, peaceful, serene… if you want to switch off your phone and disconnect from the constant distractions of modern life, Mompiche is the place to do it. While it may not have so much as an ATM to its name, Mompiche does has charm in spades. With world- class waves, a stunning, 7km stretch of pristine white sand and a feeling of untouched beauty, Mompiche is truly the place to turn up and turn off.