With an ocean so blue that it hurts your eyes, Montañita is a dream. But the beauty of Ecuador’s beach towns does not end here. Let me guide you to the best beaches near Montañita that will make your trip unforgettable .
Read on to learn more about these 4 wonderful beaches near Montañita:
- Puerto López
- Isla de la Plata
- Los Frailes
Reasons to Love Montañita Beaches
The beaches near Montañita are characterized by four main attributes:
- Tall waves (they can often go over 3mts/7ft).
- Extraordinary seafood
- Fascinating sea life (from Blue Footed Boobies to Hunchback Whales)
- Ecological Diversity → from white sand beaches to Galapagos-like sites (Isla de la Plata); in a relatively short space, you can find unique beaches that will leave you amazed.
I can assure you will love these beaches, there is something for everyone.
What to Do at Montañita Beaches
The diversity of the beaches near Montañita will allow you to experience the Pacific shoreline in a new way. Here is a breakdown of the main activities you could do in said beaches:
Every year humpback whales travel around 7000kms (4349 mi) from the Antarctic all the way to Ecuador. When the whales reach the warm waters in the Ecuadorian section of the Pacific, they find the ideal conditions for mating.
Part of the mating ritual, for male whales, involves swimming out of the water, impulsed by the momentum generated through their vertical movement. These colossal cetaceans produce a splash that will even rock the boat that you’re in.
If you can’t imagine this splash, then you have to book a tour ($20) in Puerto López so you can experience this beautiful ritual in person.
Birdwatching at Isla de la Plata
Most tourists combine the whale watching tour with a visit to the Isla de la Plata. Aside from a good deal ($40), when you combine both tours, going whale-watching and visiting the Isla, you will better understand the ecological diversity in the Ecuadorian Pacific. At the Isla you will be able to see the following birds:
- Blue Footed Boobies
- Magnificent Frigatebird
Puerto López is the central spot to plan a scuba-diving trip in mainland Ecuador. Needless to say, if you intend to take a scuba-diving trip, you’ll have to take lessons, if you’re a beginner.
If you are an experienced diver, the crew at Explora Diving will be able to provide you with a tailor-made experience. Aside from stunning coral reefs, sea turtles, and sharks, the waters between Puerto López and Isla de la Plata are a privileged place to spot giant freshwater stingrays.
If you need to be persuaded to make this visit, hear National Geographic scientist Andrea Marhsall speak about this wonderful animal and the importance of Isla de la Plata for the giant stingray’s ecosystem.
Our Top Beaches Near Montañita
There are several beautiful beaches near Montañita, like Olón, Salinas, Punta Carnero, or Ballenita, but here are my top picks:
This is the place where you will depart for whale watching, Isla de la Plata, and Scuba Diving. As a fisherman town, I highly suggest you spend some time in Puerto López to observe the catch of the day, and the disembarkment of fishermen from fiberglass boats, as they carry large plastic bins with fishes that are still alive, wailing their fins.
Isla de la Plata
This Island has often been nicknamed “Little Galapagos,” where you can birdwatch, scuba-dive, and snorkel in the waters that surround the Island.
Aside from those activities, it is important to mention the history of the Island. Pre-Inca indigenous communities Manta and Jama-Coaque used the Island for astronomic and religious purposes — as a sanctuary to pray to the Sun.
After the Spanish Conquest, the Island was used by pirates and corsaries to hide from Spanish authorities, and as a safe place to hide their bounty.
Of all the beautiful beaches that surround Montañita, this is undoubtedly my personal favorite. Located 12kms from Puerto López (7.5 miles), this beach is located inside the Parque Machalilla National Reserve.
The white sand beach and translucent waters will allow you to enjoy the stunning reefs that surround the beach. If you don’t know how to swim, or if you are traveling with small children, Los Frailes is a great option because the bay of the beach minimizes the strength of waves. In addition to the beach, there is a beautiful hiking trail that will take you to the northern side of the National Park.
From the cliff you will get a unique view of the shoreline and you will be able to gaze at the Isla de la Plata. If you decide to go to Los Frailes, be sure to pack your lunch/snacks and plenty of water: there is only one store inside the National Park and it’s not always open.
You can get to Los Frailes from Puerto López or Montañita by bus ($1.75), and then you can either walk to the beach from the entrance of the park (40 minutes), or take a moto-taxi ($2).
I promised you extraordinary food, and I am certain Salango is the foodie destination of this area. If you make it to Salango the Delfín Mágico is a must as one of the best restaurants in the Ecuadorian coast.
The star dish there is the percebes, (goose barnacles), a crustacean that adheres itself to rocks, and that has been consumed by indigenous communities in Salango for over 3-thousand years.
At El Delfín they cook this dish with lemon and different spices, and if you’re an adventerous eater, you have to try this unique dish! In addition to percebes, some other star dishes include the grilled octopus and garlic scallops.
El Delfín is not as cheap as other local options (you should expect to pay around $25 for a full meal), but it is certainly worth your time and money.
Ready to travel the beaches near Montañita? No matter where you are in Ecuador, Wanderbus can connect you to Guayaquil, Montañita, Puerto López, and more! I highly recommend you book a hostel in Montañita and use it as you base to visit Puerto López, Los Frailes, Salango, and Isla de la Plata. Here are the most convenient Wanderbus passes for your trip:
- Check out the Tucan Pass if you’re in Baños
- Fregata Pass if you’re in Cuenca
- Garza Pass if you’re in Quito
- Wanderpass if you want to explore all of Ecuador in a loop where you can start and end your trip at ANY of our stops
- If you are in Quito and would like to see all of Ecuador, including the jungle, check out the Wanderpass + Amazon Pass