Local's Guide to the Best Beaches in Ecuador

Advisor - Sarah Mills
Curated By

Sarah Mills

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  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Couples Travel

  • Family Travel

  • Group Travel

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Digital Nomad Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Beaches

  • Relaxation

  • Spiritual

  • Outdoors

blue flowering plant and white sand beach
Curator’s statement

If you want to slow down, connect with nature and fully immerse yourself in a new adventure, let me plan your visit to the stunning paradise of coastal Ecuador! The coast of Ecuador is still relatively untouched by mass tourism. You are more likely to find small family-run lodging that embraces the natural environment than large resorts. Manabi (a prominent coastal province) maintains its authentic cultural and environmental character in a way that many global tourist destinations haven't. This is a destination for those who want to truly experience a beautiful environment as it is naturally. You can spend your days surfing, practicing yoga, or lounging on the beach and your evenings entranced by the magical sunsets. Soon you will understand why the locals' favorite saying is, "Tranquilo." The best time to visit the coast of Ecuador is from December to May.

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Insider knowledge

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Where to stay in Coastal Ecuador (Ayampe, Los Frailes, San Lorenzo de Manta)

Cerro Lobo

Stunning boutique hotel nestled in the lush jungle overlooking the Pacific Ocean featuring seven private suites with lounge area surrounded by verdant jungle.

Eolia Sustainable Design Hotel

A pioneering hotel in Ecuador, fusing exceptional design with sustainability.

Villas San Lorenzo

Luxury villas with outdoor pool and jacuzzi welcomes guests to experience the tropical, peaceful paradise of San Lorenzo, Ecuador.

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Things to do in Coastal Ecuador (Ayampe, Los Frailes, San Lorenzo de Manta)

woman on a swing with her back turned watching the sunset over the jungle

Visit Ayampe to experience a free-spirited surf and yoga paradise. Ayampe is a laid-back, lush, green village located 3 hours north of Guayaquil. During the high season, December - May, you will find many yoga, wellness and musical events.

Visit Mauili Spa Ayampe to experience the pinnacle of relaxation with a 90-minute massage paired with reiki and followed with a jacuzzi session.

Take Surf Lessons (Ayampe.) Catch some waves with your instructor at one of the many surf schools on the coast.

Visit Los Frailes Beach and Machalilla National Park (Puerto Lopez,) known as the most beautiful beach in Ecuador. The calm turquoise waters, pristine light sand and dramatic cliffs make Los Frailes a must-see beach. The beach is part of a protected area in the Machalilla National Park, so there is zero development or trash on the beach. Bonus: there are great hiking trails that end at the beach!

Take a boat tour from Puerto Lopez. Puerto Lopez is hub for exploring Isla de la Plata where you can see blue-footed boobies, sea turtles, sea lions and 32 species of birds. You can also do shorter boat trips to Isla de Salango and June - September, there are many whale watching tours operating out of Puerto Lopez.

Visit San Lorenzo de Manta, another gorgeous beach surrounded by massive rock formations. From the beach you can hike to the lighthouse and will have incredible views of both San Lorenzo and the virgin beach of La Botada. San Lorenzo is located 30 minutes south of Manta.

Places to eat & drink in Coastal Ecuador (Ayampe, Los Frailes, San Lorenzo de Manta)

aerial view of a hotel property in the jungle
Image courtesy of Cerro Lobo Hotel.

Try the delicious, traditional foods of Manabi which are famous throughout Ecuador:

Corviche - Deep-fried green plantain stuffed with fish and peanut sauce.

Ceviche - $5 fresh ceviche on the beach, yes please!

Bolon - A traditional breakfast dish made of green plantain, egg and cheese and fried into a ball.

Encebollada - A very Ecuadorian soup of Albacore, yucca and onions, often served with Chifles (thin, crunchy plantain chips.)

Tonga - Rice topped with your choice of protein and plantains, covered in a delicious peanut sauce and wrapped in banana leaf.

All the delicious, fresh fish — my favorites are Robalo, Wahoo and Tuna!

For a Fancy Night Out

Momo (Olon)- Set in the quaint beach town of Olon, Momo never fails to impress with the most varied menu on the entire Ecuadorian coast and it's all delicious! Some of my favorite dishes are the truffle chips with caviar, the meatballs vindaloo, the pancetta and the clam pasta.

Martinica (Manta) - An institution in Manta, this is everyone's go-to for a special dinner. My favorites are the crab ravioli and tuna tartar (fresh tuna is a must-eat in Ecuador. Manta even has a Tuna Monument.)

Advisor - Sarah Mills

Travel Advisor

Sarah Mills

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Ecuador.