Published on June 18th, 20152
What’s Your Favorite Ecuador Beach?
O.k. so I’ve been living here in Ecuador now for nearly a year and a half and… though I’ve managed to visit those luscious Galapagos Isles (not to mention a zippy trip to Easter Island in Chile just a few weeks ago), alas I’ve not (yet) made it down from this 8,000+ foot hilltop to check out the boatloads of beaches scattered along the looooong Ecuador coast. Ah but happily, that’s soon to change.
I’m really loving my EFL teaching gigs here in Cuenca (just a single class plus a private tutorial or two), but it does limit my forays into the wild, to but little more than a week’s break between teaching terms. So for the coming break (June 27 – July 5), I’ve decided to begin the no doubt long and exceedingly arduous chore of sampling the bazillion beaches that Ecuador has to offer (well o.k. a bazillion might be exaggerating a tad, but according to THIS SITE – there’s no fewer than 80 to choose from – stretching from Salinas in the south, all the way to Esmeraldas up north near the Colombian border).
Thus I’ve been glued to this laptop screen lately – staring bleary-eyed at all manner of luscious photos of Ecuador beaches and inhaling every smidge of info on which beach might suit me best. Impossible to say of course, until I actually sink toes into the warm sand of each, but suffice…
For starters, I selected a beach that seems to be a bit more laid-back than the upscale high-rise hotels and parasailing scene at beaches like Salinas, settling on the smallish beach community of Puerto Lopez. It’s quite near Los Frailes – the alleged most beautiful beach in all of Ecuador, and offers the added allure of a “Poor Man’s Galapagos” (Isla de la Plata) just off the coast. Furthermore, if I’m lucky – late June might also offer glimpses of migrating Humpback whales.
My next step of course, was to rummage through bookings.com to snag a place to stay. Given that my CEDEI class ends on Friday night, the 26th, I at first allowed myself 2 days (Sat/Sun) to grade my students’ final exams and pack, so planned on 6 nights lolling at Puerto Lopez, returning to Cuenca on July 5th – just barely in time to start the new teaching term on Monday, the 6th.
As I planned to take the public bus from Cuenca to Guayaquil (a mere $4 for a four hour a/c ride), and likewise a bus from Guayaquil to the coast, and up to Puerto Lopez… I suddenly thought – why not sample TWO different Ecuador beaches while I was at it? With so many to choose from, why not spend a night or two at a 2nd beach along the way?
Thus, I revised my itinerary – decided I could easily grade finals on Saturday, and head to Guayaquil on Sunday, the 28th instead. That way I had 7 nights along the coast – enough to relax for 5 nights at Puerto Lopez, and another 2 nights at one of the many beaches en route.
The choice of a 2nd beach wasn’t easy as there are no fewer than two dozen along the way, and each seemed to offer a different vibe (San Pablo, Jambeli, Anyangue, Manglaralto, Montañita, Olón, Ayampe, etc.) But I finally settled on the latter – Playa Ayampe, just 11 miles south of Puerto Lopez, but much smaller and presumably quieter.
In any case, we shall see. Those are my twin choices for my first (did I mention arduous?) expedition to unearth my favorite beach in all of Ecuador. Clearly it’s a “dirty job, but SOMEBODY’s gotta do it” undertaking. And it will no doubt take me many more (did I mention grueling?) trips to the coast, along with a LOT of painful hammock time. But hey, that’s what I’m all about – a brave and valiant travel soldier, marching off to face the perils of tropical sunsets, the freshest of ceviches, and oodles of wiggling-toes-in-sand.
Now what about you? I need a little help here – for those who’ve visited the Ecuador coast…