You should visit Montañita if you are looking for the perfect beach location on the Ecuadorian coast. Montañita is a small village nestled on the Pacific coast of Ecuador, known for its beautiful beach, chilled out vibes, and great parties.
All the reasons you need to visit Montañita
When travelling through Ecuador, the stark differences between each region really stands out, especially as you go between huge altitude ranges and radically different landscapes. The towering Andes and their steep green valleys contrast with the low humid forests of the Amazon, the boiling beaches with the sharp cold of a night at almost 3000m above sea level in Quito. And then, the majestic coast.
Montañita, or ‘Little Mountain’ was originally a tiny fishing village, which was found in the 60s by hippies, artists, musicians and surfers from all over the globe. Luckily, although it has grown, it has kept most of these elements (including the fishermen!) and one feels like despite the numerous hotels, clubs and stalls selling everything from empanadas to margaritas, the vibes are still the same. Dotted around the village are relics of old and new, new clubs pumping out reggaeton music, old locals watching the tourists.
What we love about Montañita is that although it has the party elements of some backpacker locations in Asia, it isn’t just a tourist trap. Locals love it as much as any backpacker, and you can tell from the awesome mixture of foreigners and Ecuadorians that you find surfing, partying and just enjoying the beach! Quiteños visit Montañita to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, with it’s scorching days and freezing nights, come here in droves at the weekends for some time to relax and good parties to unwind.
Getting to Montañita
The Wanderbus routes allow you to visit Montañita and other locations in Ecuador and forget about complicated changes, like getting a bus to Guayaquil, changing here, getting a cab there. Just hop on, have a nap, and within no time at all you’ll be in Montañita. If you’re starting out in Quito, make sure to check out our routes that take you through the most iconic locations in the Andes, such as Cotopaxi, Quilotoa and Baños en route to the beach. The route to Montañita from Guayaquil takes about two and a half hours, which gives you just enough time to relax and eat whatever snacks you buy in Guayaquil.
Montañita is located about halfway between Salinas and Puerto Lopez, on a beach that stretches more than 40km. A little cliff separates Montañita from Olon, a smaller village nearby with an iconic church. The idyllic landscape makes for some incredible sunsets, and explains why the surfing is so great.
The sand on Montañita beach is famously white and soft, making it one of the nicest beaches in Ecuador. We love it because there is something for everyone. During your visit to Montañita, you can choose to have a relaxing day and walk down the beach to more secluded areas, or party from dawn to dusk in the main part of the beach, where people sell drinks, ice-cold coconuts, ceviche, and all kinds of treats.
If you burn easily, make sure to wear plenty of sun protection when you visit Montañita, as the UV rays here are particularly strong. Remember you’re on the line of the equator! We love renting a sheltered bed for the day, as it can give you a bit of a base (though definitely don’t leave any valuables around) and means that you’re out of the sun for some of the time.
A great place to start is checking out our ranking of 10 top places to party in Montañita. The amazing party scene here is another solid reason to visit Montañita.
If you google Ecuador nightlife, Montañita is bound to come up. There’s nowhere you can party quite like here! Although Quito has some nice bars, Montañita wins hands down when it comes to fun. You’ve got your pick of clubs, lounges, cocktail bars and beach bars here, which means you can really have fun whatever it is that you’re up for.
A few great clubs are Caña Grill, Lost Beach, and Nativa. Lost Beach is for all the techno and electronic music fans, they have some great DJs playing here and they’ve even hosted Boiler Room. The cover charge is more than most places in Ecuador, but if you appreciate a good sound system it’s definitely worth it. If you’re looking for more latino music, try Alcatraz, a club with slightly strange prison decor going on but decent salsa, cumbia and other music playing.
If you’re up for a more spontaneous night, our favorite thing to do is go and hang out on Cocktail Avenue, a road you literally can’t miss covered top to bottom in little outdoor stalls selling drinks. You can pretty much get any drink you can think of here, and they’ll even top up the amount of alcohol if you like your drinks strong. Most places have a happy hour so you can start out here and after a few drinks just follow the music to the nearest clubs! A lot of bars don’t charge an entry fee so you can just go from club to club as you please.
For a fancier drink or two, there are a couple of nice cocktail spots such as Tiki Limbo, or Nativa’s terrace bar. Alternatively, visit Montañita Brewing, where they have great craft beer, and crazy tropical ciders made out of mango, lime or ginger depending on the day.
Where to stay in Montañita
Choosing the ideal hotel for you is key when planning your visit. Hostels and hotels are so varied, you could find yourself piled in a crazy hostel with a bunch of surfer dudes and backpackers, or in a luxury hotel with an infinity pool, pick your scene! Just FYI, there is always music playing in Montañita so if you want some peace and quiet once you leave the party, make sure to stay a bit further out of the village. If you’re coming on a national holiday, make sure to book ahead as the coast is popular with Ecuadorians from Quito and Guayaquil.
If you’re really on a tight budget, you can find a bed in a dorm for about $5 in almost any hostel in Montañita. Other nice hotels range from $10-$15 for a private room, so if you’re not on the lookout for a party hostel there are definitely options for a little more money per night. It has a spacious kitchen, nice rooms and nice hammocks all around the place to relax in. If you’re dreaming of a pool, Kamala Hostel and Montañita Cabañas have nice gardens with swimming pools included.
Things to do in Montañita
There is so much to do in when you visit Montañita, but the most obvious thing is to surf! Since this place became a hippie destination in the 60s, it has been synonymous with good waves and surf.
Nowadays, it hosts an international surf competition every year during Carnival, and locals such as Mimi Barona compete in surf competitions worldwide. If you’re bringing your own board, there are plenty of hostels that provide storage space for them, but it is easy and cheap to rent boards too.
You can rent boards for a half day or a full day, rates for a half-day are around $10-$15. Although most hostels rent surf boards, you can also go to specialized surf shops in town. Moreno Surf is a shop on the street where the bus stops, that makes surfboards, rents them and also provides surf classes from beginner to advanced level.
Although you can surf anywhere, locals and pros head to The Point, a cliff on the northern end of the beach that divides it with Olon. There is a great break here, and waves can get up to 3m high.
If surfing isn’t for you, there are plenty of other activities to do in Montañita. One of our favourites is to go cycling along the picturesque coastline. You can easily rent bikes in town, although you should make sure to check out the gears and breaks before you take off! A short cycle route to Manglaralto gives you a chance to see what the landscape is like for locals, and you can even find some deserted beaches which are perfect for a picnic. Make sure you take plenty of water as there isn’t much shade here.
When Montañita became a destination for hippies in the 60s, they also brought yoga with them! If you need a stretch after an intense surfing session (or too much partying), there are some awesome yoga classes here. Most places offer drop in classes for less than $10. Yoga Montañita is a 5 minute walk from town, and has classes every day in a bamboo studio that overlooks the sea.
Around Montañita: day trips and excursions
If you visit Montañita, make sure to take a ride to the nearby beaches so you can get to know more of the Ecuadorian coast. The neighbouring village of Olon, famous for it’s church perched on a cliff, makes for a nice day trip. The beach has great beginner waves, and is much quieter than Montañita. It is also surrounded by the Chongon-Colonche cloud-forest, which descends from the nearby mountains. Surprisingly, this forest still has wild howler monkeys, jaguars and macaws, which the locals strive to preserve. You can explore the forest on foot or by horseback.
If you don’t have a chance to go to the Galapagos Islands on your travels, it’s definitely worth doing a day-trip to Isla de la Plata, a nearby island inhabited by Blue-footed Boobies, Frigatebirds (the ones with the big red pouch), sharks, turtles and even whales! Whales migrate from the North pole on their way south via this part of Ecuador. Due to the warm waters, they mate and give birth in the area, so there’s a good chance of seeing mama and baby whales together. The best time of the year to see them is between June and September. To get there, you can book a trip from Montañita, or travel to Puerto Lopez, but make sure you get there early as the boats leave at 9 at the latest.
Isla de la Plata is also the best places in the area to go scuba diving, and you can find several dive shops in Puerto Lopez that offer courses and rent equipment. Scuba diving is probably the most expensive activity in the area, but it’s worth paying for certified dive shop, as they have better trained instructors and regular maintenance on equipment.
Another great day trip is to the National Park of Machalilla, where Los Frailes beach is located. This stunning beach is totally worth the trip, with pristine white sand and aquamarine water. Some tours offer a trip to Los Frailes, and Agua Blanca, a community in the forest where there is a sulfur lagoon filled with mud which is supposed to be great for your skin.
If you’ve been feeling incomunicado, take a Spanish course while you’re here. There are several schools which offer short courses and individual lessons, and we can’t think of a better place to stop off and brush up our Spanish skills! You can take an intensive one week course for under $200, or just pick up individual one-on-one lessons.
Check out our suggestions for other 5 other beaches you should visit along the Ecuadorian coast.
Weather in Montañita
Be prepared for the heat if you visit Montañita! Being on the line of the equator and without any altitude to cool down those temperatures, Montañita can be scorching hot. It’s average temperature is about 28C or 80F. Rainy season is from December to May, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hot. It usually rains at night or during the evenings and temperatures can still be high during the day. The humidity often makes it feel hotter than the temperatures would indicate, luckily there are cold coconuts available to cool off. The sea temperature never drops below 15C and is usually closer to 20C.