Machalilla - one of Ecuador's best beaches

Best Beaches in Ecuador

Ecuador is in particularly known for the extraordinary Galapagos Islands. However, most of its visitors get blown away by the incredible diversity of landscapes of this South American country. Ecuador’s nature ranges for the Amazon jungle to snow topped volcanoes. But above all, in Ecuador, you’ll find some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

The short distances allow you to easily combine different landscapes, regions and even climates during a single vacation. However, in this article we’ll focus on the best beaches in Ecuador only.

Ecuador has plenty of beaches to choose from. We selected our top six and ranked them starting with our number one. Perhaps it’s hard to pick your single favorite beach. Fortunately, you could easily visit several of them  during a single vacation.

(1) Tortuga Bay, Galapagos

Imagine a white sand beach at a remote calm tropical island, surrounded by warm clear blue water. Imagine a small paradisiacal beach somewhere deep into the Pacific Ocean. You’re thinking of Tortuga Bay.

Just like almost everything at the Galapagos Islands, Tortuga Bay is a one of a kind. You’ll be a guest at a wildlife beach. As the name suggests, this beach is the home of the Tortuga, but that’s not the only wildlife you’ll encounter. Tortuga Bay is full of Iguanas, birds, sealions and a lot more. And since you’re visiting their beach, they will not move out of the way for you.

A couple of tours take you to Tortuga Bay. However, from Santa Cruz it’s only a 45 minutes’ walk. In fact, the walk over a path surrounded by lush trees is rather enjoyable. If you have the chance, you should go early morning at a weekday. You’ll have the quiet beach with warm waters for yourself.

If you’re going on a vacation to Ecuador and you like beaches, Tortuga Bay is an absolute must visit.

(2) Machalilla National Park, Manabí

Machalilla is one of Ecuador’s true natural pearls. It’s not for no reason that even a country like Ecuador has qualified it as a national park. There are white sand beaches surrounded by rocky and green wilderness. Machalilla is perfect to combine a relaxing day at the beach with a hike in the national park.

Bring a book, comfortable shoes, your own water bottles and lots of sunscreen. Make sure you’ll enter the park well prepared. You’ll find no hotels, no restaurant, no hostels or any kind of commercial activity within the national park. There are places to stay overnight nearby in Puerto Cayo and Puerto Lopez.

Just outside the coast is the little island Isla de la Plata. The locals call this “little Galapagos”. Here, you’ll encounter plenty of wildlife. Including jumping whales between June and October. In this period, you’ll find dedicated whale watching tours as well.

If you love untouched beaches, nature and hikes Machalilla National Park should be on your bucket list.

(3) Isla Portete y Júpiter, Esmeraldas

As the name suggests: Isla Portete is an island. This is the perfect place to wind down, relax and enjoy the natural surroundings at a calm beach. If you’re looking for a remote beach with palm trees at a tropical island which is not over commercialized. This is your place!

Isla Portete is just off the coast of the laidback fisherman’s town of Mompiche which is popular with backpackers and surfers. Mompiche is about 6h30 hours from Quito by car. From Bolivar, just outside Mompiche, little boats can take you to the Island. 

(4) Ayampe, Manabí

If you’re looking for a good spot to surf while mingling with the locals, Ayampe is your place to go. It’s known for its waves, yoga and fresh seafood. Everything on the menu is the ‘catch of the day’, you’re not going to find your fish fresher than here. Ayampe is a cozy calm fishermen’s town.

In Ayampe cultural preservation and community tourism are the keys to the experience. The (foreigner) surfers and yoga lovers mingle with the locals. This town is a vibrant yet relaxed destination. If you visit Ayampe, you’ll make lots of friends from all ages and backgrounds.

(5) Montañita, Santa Elena

Surf, sun, beach and party. That’s what Montañita is all about.

Montañita has a fast-paced party vibe, making it a world’s renowned destinations for backpackers and dubbed by travelers on their gap year as “Ecuador´s Ibiza”. If you visit Montañita, you will have plenty of options when it comes to restaurants, nightlife and places to stay and you can either go for a shoestring budget or treat yourself with several boutique hotel options, spas and surf and yoga retreats in this town.

(6) Olón, Santa Elena

If Montañita is a bit too much for you, but you still want to experience the vibe over there. Olón would be a good alternative. It’s quieter than Montañita and just a 10 minutes (bus) ride north. Or, if you’d like, a 30 minutes beach walk. 

Don’t be mistaken, Olón is more than just Montañita’s calmer neighboring town. It  has one of the best beaches in Ecuador. You’ll find several comfortable rental houses, a few hotels and hostels as well as fresh seafood restaurants. 

ARE YOU LOOKING FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT TRAVELING TO ECUADOR?

At What To Do in Ecuador? you’ll find an easy and inspirational summary of what to do in Ecuador.

In the Stories section, you’ll find more stories about travelers’ experiences. You’ll find articles comparing best places to visit and there are several articles giving you practical travel tips.

At Services,  you’ll see how South Trips can help you during your trip. You can think of as little as an airport pick-up, the organization of a part of your trip, or as much as a complete day-to-day organized vacation. Any support is always completely personalized.

If you have any questions about Ecuador, traveling to Ecuador or something you did, or did not read at our website, don’t hesitate to  contact us. We’re happy to answer all questions.

By Carolina Loza León

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