Check out our 2020 updated list of the best beaches in Ecuador. Whether you are looking for fishing, diving, a romantic getaway or just natural beauty, we have found the best Ecuador beaches for you.
Ecuador is well-known for its extraordinary beaches; with 2,237 kilometers of coast, you can almost guarantee that there is an Ecuadorian beach that caters to exactly what your heart desires. Be it a few days of hard surfing, wildlife and whale watching, or even just that perfect Instagram shot, we’ve got you.
Ecuador’s tourism industry has boomed in recent years, and with as many as 1,500,000 people visiting the country in 2016, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America. Most people come for a trip to the Galapagos Islands or to visit the jungle and highland regions, but the country also has many world-class beaches which should not be missed!
Whether you’re looking for a holiday spot or for somewhere to hang your backpack for a few days, read on. Below I have divided up potential different reasons for your visit to help make your search a little easier and for you discover the best beaches in Ecuador for you. Simply click below to jump to where you want to go.
You’ve probably heard all the great things about Montañita, famous for its surf competitions and party atmosphere (See the Partying section), it’s accessible from the Ecuador Hop bus and is a haven for like-minded people.
If you’re after something a little more low-key for your surfing holiday then I highly recommend Ayampe. A small town with a great community feel and almost no tourists. Just 25 kilometers outside of Montañita, if you want a mix of both party and peace, it’s a great escape from the noise.
Without a doubt the best place to party by the beach in Ecuador is Montañita. With its golden sand and seasonal surfing competitions, this town is a hub of activity for backpackers and surfers alike. If that isn’t enough, it’s also easily accessible as one of the stops on the Ecuador Hop buses!
If you’re not so into the backpacker party and want something a little more upmarket, Salinas claims the title of ‘the Miami of Ecuador’, with huge white buildings guarding the seafront, it is a huge attraction for locals and tourists alike- but beware! It gets busy. Check out Water Sports section for a bit more info.
In the argument for who boasts the best water sports in Ecuador, Chipipe comes out pretty close to the top and is a part of the Salinas province. With skiing ranges from jet to water (no snow I’m afraid), and banana boats for the kids. Salinas is the adrenaline pumping spot you’re looking for. Fair warning that accommodation in high season gets booked very quickly. With the beach getting painfully busy, and even more so as the tide comes in and the sand area shrinks. If you’re not into busy beaches, this isn’t the destination for you.
Isla Salango offers the opportunity to have a completely water-based tour, seeing coral, fish and turtles. Snorkeling gear and a kayak are provided by most companies, as well as the boat ride and a little food. If you’re looking for a little more all inclusive of activities, check out Wildlife and Whale-Watching. Isla de la Plata tours offer diving, snorkeling and a chance to explore the Island.
If you’re looking for an interesting alternative diving option, then Ayangue offers divers the chance to explore a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea. The town is small and offers cheap seafood in its small blue cove.
If you’re looking for a (boat) ride & a guide then Isla de la Plata is the spot for you. While not on the mainland, it is only 17 kilometers out and truly is a haven for wildlife, there’s plenty of birds and once in your diving or snorkeling gear, reefs, fish and turtles galore. This is a don’t miss, especially in whale season as their migratory route passes this way, and don’t worry! There’s loads of boat operators and tour guides to help you on your way.
Not just a beach, Olón Beach sits just a couple of miles away from Montañita, and offers a tropical forest right on the seafront. While accommodation may be just a little more expensive here, there’s a good chance that you may be able to spot the endangered great green macaw, howler monkeys and iguanas (to name just a few). Amble through the forest and discover a paradise of waterfalls.
If you want to fish in the deep sea, there is no better place for it than Manta. You’ll find many tours that provide everything that you need for a great fishing excursion. The town is nice, full of markets and restaurants, and has been growing in popularity over the years. There are a few different beaches to choose from and a couple of possibilities to kite surf or ride some waves during your days on land. It’s easy to fly in or you can get the bus from Quito or Guayaquil, so whatever you prefer, you’re set.
Another option is Salinas, about 200 kilometers south of Manta and much closer to the country’s’ largest city, Guayaquil. Be aware that Salinas is an acquired taste and much much busier than Manta, although it does offer a host of different activities you may not be able to find in Manta. If you don’t mind the crowds and fancy a go for some water sports, Salinas is your spot. Check out the Water Sports section for more information.
Playa Los Frailes is a gorgeous beach in Mancilla National Park. A little walk from the nearest town, the first beach you will come across is crab-infested. Enjoy the nature but don’t swim (there’s a rip current that is very dangerous). This isn’t your final destination, keep going, there’s another beach to pass before you reach Los Frailes. Like the old saying goes, nothing good is easy. Ask at your accommodation for more details.
Olón is one of the only places in the world that has a cloud forest and a beach in such close proximity, and it’s just a few kilometers north from Montañita. This spot doesn’t just have the beach to enjoy, lose yourself in the forest, but watch out for jaguars! Check out the Wildlife and Whale-Watching section for a few extra specifics.
Everyone knows that the beach is great for your skin- the sand acts as a natural exfoliant and the salt from the sea opens your pores and clears out excess oils. It does the same for your hair, ridding you of any product buildup and nailing that gorgeous beach wave look and of course those sunkissed highlights. Be careful to not let your locks dry out in the salt and heat though!
Where better for this than the equator? Ecuador is a no brainer. If you just want that perfect pic of dreamy, sandy beaches then here are a few of the best beaches in Ecuador for you to explore. If you want more than just the shot and are craving a party as well then don’t forget to check out the Partying section. This is just for the ‘gram.
Canoa is a small village with a beach surrounded by cliffs. The town was destroyed by an earthquake a few years ago and is still recovering, but you are not left wanting anything while you are there, there’s plenty of food and accommodation, and even palm trees to be found.
Mompiche is a tiny fishing village. Less amenities than Canoa and a little harder to get there, but definitely a higher payoff photo-wise. Ask your hostel about Portete. A tiny Island accessible by boat after a 45 minute walk. A little effort but undeniably worth it, and will get you that unique shot. Check the tide times before setting off!
Las Tunas is a small town (only about 150 homes) meaning it is quiet and relaxed. Dine on the beach at sunset or take a horseback ride along the surf. There are a couple of bigger towns and different beaches a little further along as well, so you have plenty of choice if you like to mix it up.
Ayampe is a town just a little ways out of Montañita. But as close as it is it is as much different. The locals work hard to make sure this beautiful spot doesn’t turn into a tourist trap. Consequently it is a little more expensive. It is a trade-off as the extra expense means that you are more likely to have a little privacy and be able to enjoy a private stroll along the beach a little better.
The cuisine on the coasts of Ecuador is very different to the highlands. It’s based around (of course) fish but also has peanuts, coconuts and plantains aplenty as well. The food is all relatively fresh and cheap, as you will come to expect in Ecuadorian towns. If you’re looking for something a little higher budget then head to the cities or Ayampe.
Ecuador has so many incredible sights to see and places to discover. Hopefully our list of the best beaches in Ecuador has helped you plan your trip to this amazing country!