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Montanita

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Coastal Lowlands : Montanita
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Montañita is a small village located on Manglaralto parish along the southern coast of Ecuador.


Understand

Located on Ecuador's "Ruta del Sol" ("Route of the Sun"), recently renamed "Ruta del Spondylus" and part of Manglaralto Parrish in Santa Elena Province. The region is known for its unique combination of small tourist/friendly villages and towns, magnificent unspoiled beaches, world-class surfing and both island and mountain natural reserves. Over the years, a relaxed and multicultural atmosphere has evolved.

A hidden treasure that did not even appear on the maps just a few years ago, the combination of perfect waves, golden sand and tropical vegetation have slowly developed its reputation as a tropical paradise.

Montañita started as a beautiful beach with a few rustic houses of native fishermen and some surfers in tents. Over time it's grown to include vacation homes, hotels, rustic restaurants, bars and open air cafès, created by people seeking to escape the frantic life-style of Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city and main seaport. Montañita has its share of foreigners who fell in love with the place and settled down; including Argentinians, Americans, Australians, Canadians, Germans, Jamaicans, and Russians as well as people from all over European. This village's colorful variety of street vendors, artisans, activities and party nightlife provide a multicultural atmosphere that attracts the same variety in it's visitors.

The layout town of Montañita is a grid of small streets crowded with shops and restaurants. Most of the east/west roads have beach access. North of Montañita's little town is a small mountain often called the Point that separates it's beach from Olon, Montañita's neighboring town. On this small mountain is a beautiful ocean overlook and the beaches of Olon.

Get in

The usual way to reach Montañita and the other villages in Manglaralto Parish is overland via the Ruta del Sol, a beautiful coastal highway running along the Ecuadorian coast.

By bus

  • From Guayaquil : There is an excelent, direct (non-stop) service from Guayaquil`s main bus station to Manglaralto and Montañita in air-conditioned buses (CLP bus line), with daily departures at 05h20, 06h20, 09h30, 13h00 , 15h00 and 16h30. Approximate travel time : 2h30. Price : US$ 5.70 You can also go from Guayaquil to the town of Santa Elena (departures every 15 minutes, price approx US$3) and take a bus from there to Montañita (price approx. US$1.5) - total time about 3 hours.
  • From Cuenca, Machala, Loja or other cities in the southwestern/southern part of Ecuador : Take a bus directly to Guayaquil and follow the directions above.
  • From Peru : Cross into Ecuador at the International Bridge over the Zarumilla river, near Huaquillas-Aguas Verdes (customs/immigration control!). From Huaquillas you can get a bus to Guayaquil. From there, follow the directions above to Montañita.

By taxi

  • From Guayaquil or Santa Elena, you can take a taxi to Montañita, either for greater comfort or when the busses aren't running (generally after 21h00).

Get around

Walking is the best way to get around town as Montañita is a very small village and the streets can get too crowded for cars. However, taxis and buses are available and make it possible to consider staying also in the less crowded, more serene and safe villages of Manglaralto and Olon only 5 minutes away, south and north respectively from downtown Montañita.

Do

Learn Spanish

Montañita is a popular destination to learn Spanish :

  • Mar Azul Spanish school [1] located in montañita, this school is the perfect place to study for the discerning traveler. This school, run by an expert experienced teacher taught in Quito, offers private lessons, which is proven to be the best way to learn spanish quickly. Rather than being taught straight from a book, this school focuses on practicing practical spanish, depending on the interests of the students. Steps from the beach, 100 feet away from the constant noise and distraction of the town, this is the place to go if you really want to learn the language. Programs include book materials free and variety of options for extra activities - surf, yoga, medical spanish, volunteer work, etc. The owner, Gaby, is incredibly friendly, and the size of this school makes it extremely accomodating, without many of the policies and rules that make the other schools difficult to deal with.74.131.50.213 22:56, 15 July 2010 (EDT)
  • Montañita Spanish school [2] is located right near the beach and is highly recommended. There is a variety of courses on offer from travellers survival Spanish to intentsive Spanish, Medical Spanish (interning at the local hospital), Spanish and Volunteer, Spanish and Surf, and Spanish and Dive.
  • Ecuador Spanish Schools [3] is the other option.The school is also present in Quito, Manta, Cuenca.

Surf & Bodyboard

From beginners to experienced surfers, Montañita and its surrounding beaches offer an ideal location for surfing and bodyboarding. Many shops in town and on the beach rent out surfboards for about $4 per hour. If you want to catch early waves, some of the shops will rent you a board in the evening and you return in when the shop opens.

There are a choice of beaches, both in and near Montañita:

  • The Point known as the End in Montañita is a point break just north (1 km) of the center of Montañita. Waves are fast, strong and some of the more respected waves in Ecuador. If swell of the north, the west hard has the propitious conditions with some or the south and little wind. Waves can reach 3 m with sections of impressive tubes. Appropriate for surfers of intermediate and advanced level. The bottom is rocky but the route ends in sand.
  • Between the Point and the center of Montañita, you'll often find fast, beach-break, running waves (both left and right) playing along the sandy bottom. Great for beginners to more experienced surfers, especially when the Point is not working well.
  • Ecuadorian Air Force (F.A.E Fuerza Aerea Ecuatoriana). Located 70 km south of Montañita, in Salt mines, this sensible left to nobody swell, is one of the favourites of tablistas Guayaquileños. Special permission is required to enter the beach, because it belongs to the Armed Forces of Ecuador.
  • Tunas/Ayampe. Located 25 km north of Montañita, Tunas and Ayampe (3 km apart) both offer powerful and tubular waves almost every day. With lefts and rights, the waves of Tunas and Ayampe are a good option when the water is calm in Montañita, since they always can give a good wave for you to have fun.

Buy

Local artisans walk around carrying displays of their handmade necklaces, earrings and a variety of other jewelry. Along the streets are tables of vendor selling many interesting and beautiful crafts. Tagua[4] also known as vegetable ivory and seeds native to the area are used to make rings, necklaces and other crafts including figurines of animals.

A few vendors from Otatvalo have tables and a small store with crafts, artwork, bags and clothing found in the mountains. Some of the clothing and bags are made from alpaca[5].

There a several surf and rental stores available offering everything you need for the beach. On the main street, one of the neatest and exotic things they have are necklaces made out of strings from hemp that hold neat things like shark tooth. These usually sell for about three to four dollars.

Also, if you are in the need for marijuana, you can ask any of the surfers or restaurant owners as they will have some for you. Montanita is the most famous weed smoking beach towns, although the quality is not good, the amount is alot.

Eat

Montañita has a well-deserved reputation for culinary variety and surprises. From vegetarian pizzas to a delicious spaghetti with shrimps, the lists of restaurants and of special dishes are both long. Like a good coastal pueblito, most restaurants have a fish/seafood menu for reasonable prices. For example, you might find a menu with vegetable soup as the starter, a second course of fish with rice, fried bananas and salad from US$2. Another important point is the fruits. It is practically a religion in Montañita to take a good breakfast with pineapples, bananas, papayas with yogurt and granola here, nutritious food that the restaurants offer from 8h00 to before lunch.

At the most populated streets, there are small stalls during the evenings and the night time selling hamburgers and hotdogs for about $1.5.

Many restaurants are transformed into bars, and many bars soon transform into nightclubs... everything can happen in Montañita. Tourists come to enjoy the beach, but also because they know that the nightlife is spectacular.

  • Happy Donkey House / Parrillada Restaurant, Montañita (diagonal the church and opposite the park square), 042060038. Wonderful restaurant with an odd name. They offer a wide variety of cuisine, the pastas and grills are the most popular. The coffee served is excellent as well. Happy Donkey House has been featured in nationally televised shows which has helped the restaurant gain a lot of recognition.

Drink

As far as bars and drinks, Montañita will not disappoint! The delicious mixture of licores with fruit juices results in tempting daikiris. The supply of bars is ample and a large range of styles.

  • Karukera RestaurantKarukera Restaurant Montanita. This is a bar and a good Ecuadorian and French restaurant. The flaming shots are the best here.
  • Caña Grill. This bar is half indoor and half outdoor and frequently hosts concerts. The stage faces the outdoor portion, which is completely covered in sand.
  • One of the streets leading to the beach is transformed into an open air bar during the afternoon or at latest when the sun goes down. Small stalls offer loud music and cocktails from $2.
  • Cafe del Mar, (close to the center). Vegetarian restaurant with the most relaxed atmosphere in the village lots of cushions and sofas, books for sale and exchange, low prices for quality homemade healthy food, caters to special diets, oatmeal cookies and brownies, carrot cake.
  • Hola Ola, On the main strip, 042 060 118. Restaurant, bakery, bar, club, Net café, surf shop, etc. Good food and drinks. A huge courtyard sits behind the restaurant with a stage and hosts live bands on the weekends. No cover. $5-20.
  • Planeta Tierra (Planet Earth), Montanita. Great restaurant. Sopapilla is the best in town, the owner also owns a Hotel in town. Marthita the owners daughter speaks perfect english and is more than happy to show you around. $3-9.

Sleep

  • Tikilimbo. The coolest, most popular hostel for surfers. They have a clothing shop, rent surf boards and equipment, give lessons, have a tattoo parlor, and tour desk for setting up cool trips. The hippest, most fun hostel in town at the heart of nightlife and activity, with a super relaxed atmosphere. $15 a night.
  • Charo's Hostal, [6]. The premier hotel in the center of Montañita. Located on the boardwalk, Charo's offers first-class accommodations at competitive prices. Swimming pool and restaurant.
  • El refugio de las aves, (Tigrillo Neighborhood), (593)91792659, [7]. Eco Wooden and Bamboo houses with kitchen. Also offerings comfortable rooms for days or month with shared clean kitchen, laundry and tv. $20/person.
  • Hachuwa Hostal & Restaurant, Calle Guido Chiriboga y Vicente Rocafuerte, 080 580 985, [8]. Very good value for the price. Simple but clean and modern rooms, some with balcony. Located in the heart of town, but just outside of the club's blast zone to be fairly quiet at night. No hot water, however. $10/person/night.
  • Hostal Centro Del Mundo. Located right across from the beach, this basic but tidy place offers both single and double rooms at about $8 per person, or you can sleep on one of the mattresses in the loft space for $4 a night. To find it, just walk along the beach (near the center of town). At times the water doesn't work, and if you are scared of "cricketroaches" you probably don't want to stay here. From $4.00 per night.
  • Hostal Papaya, [9]. Hostal and restaurant is in the center of the village. It has nice balconys, good cuisine and laundry service. TV Room with armchairs.
  • Hotel Funky Monkey. Located north of the village. Rooms with private and shared baths. Bar, restaurant, common area with satellite TV and pool table.
  • Hotel Montañita, (North of the village), [10]. This is the biggest hotel in town, located on the beach with 36 rooms with private baths, swimming pool, parking and restaurant.
  • Kundalini Hostal. Small relaxing hotel at the bottom of the beach. Private bath. Hot Water. Rustic cottage with ample garden in front of the sea.
  • Insomniac Cafe, Next to the town church (across from the town park). The gringo (visitor) location in town. Real coffee, espresso based drinks from an espresso machine from Italy, great fast snacks, full bar and NFL football.
  • La Casa del Sol, 92488581. This is a luxuriously rustic hotel, located towards the point. All rooms have private baths, fan and Cable TV. Bar-Restaurant also available
  • La Casa Blanca. A comfortable place to stay in Montanita. Rooms have private baths, mosquito net, fan and hammocks. Some rooms offer ocean views.
  • Las Palmas Hotel. Good hotel away from the downtown crowd and noise. Great rates. Groups welcomed. English/Spanish/French/Portuguese
  • Manglaralto Sunset Hostel, (South of downtown, five minutes by car or a twenty minute walk along the beach), Land Line(5934)2440797 Mobile 094409687 (). Located in the quieter setting of Manglaralto, the hotel offers some of the most comfortable rooms in the area,some with air conditioner, each with large private bathroom and hot-water shower, independent entrance and multicoloured hammock on portal. There is a café and bar in the hostel as well as 24h reception, travel info, lounge, free parking; Mastercard and Visa accepted.
  • Montañita Cabañas, [11]. Eco friendly hostel located in quiet area bordering the farmland, but just a 2 minute easy stroll to the beach and three minutes to centre of town. Beautiful huge cabanas, large swimming pool, jacuzzi and hang out hammock areas. Private bathrooms. Communal kitchen and some cabanas have private kitchens and air con.
  • Tabuba Hostal, [12]. Modern hotel, located in front of the beach. All rooms have private baths, AC and satellite TV.
  • Balsa Surf Camp, At the Point (En la Punta), [13]. A fantastic, hand-crafted hotel owned by a well known surf board shaper. Rooms are nice and clean, and come with balconies and private baths. Free internet, and great food including breakfast. Speaks English, Spanish, and French.
  • La Barranca, La Punta-Baja Montanita, Calle Prinicipal, +593 4-2060139, [14]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 1PM. A luxury hotel located on the Point in Montanita on the main road to the Sanctuary. All 17 rooms have air conditioning, TV, private bathrooms with hot water. Wi-Fi, jacuzzi, restaurant/bar, back-up power generator. Free parking, 24 hour security. 50 meters from the beach, and a ten minute walk to the village. $30/person.
  • Centro Del Mundo. Located right next to Nativa Bamboo, the place is run by friendly staff and a great way to meet other travlers and and Ecuadorians alike. Dorms from $3 and rooms with bathroom for $7 pp. Basic accomodation. Friendly owner (Juanito) always willing to help you out. However as it's so close to the club, don't stay here if you want an early night.

Contact

There are a few internet cafes and call centres around with similar prices :

  • Cyber Hostel, (At the end of the busiest street.). Open late. The cheapest internet cafe in town. The connection is usually fast enough but the computers are slightly out dated. $1/h.

Get out

Direct CLP buses from Montañita to Guayaquil depart few times a day. Check the departure times from the small CLP office in Montañita. More frequent buses go to Santa Elena (Ecuador), where you can catch another bus to Guayaquil.

Puerto Lopez is the ideal place from which to explore Machalilla National Park.

Salango is a tiny tranquil fishing village has only a couple of streets but is home to an impressive and well-maintained archaeological museum.


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