A canoe trip through the dark mangrove forests of the Ecuadorian coasts should be on everyone’s bucket list. This endangered habitat is slowly being lost to encroaching shrimp farms unless the government sees an economic advantage to protecting more land.
A trip to Guayaquil would not be complete without a trip on a tried and true pirate vessel. The options to sail include one-hour tours on the Río Guayas with an open bar and pirate show.
Located at the very end, or very beginning depending on your point of departure, of the Malecón 2000 is the tallest building in Ecuador. The Point is a modern structure of unique design, somewhat like a long cigarette placed on its end and twisted so that it appears crinkled. It is the work of Ecuadorian architect Christian Wiese.
The Point, Numa Pompilio Llona, Guayaquil, Ecuador
Guayaquil was once full of buildings with businesses on the main floor and spacious homes on the second. Their windows opened wide, more like doors, to allow for any available breeze to make its way in. Today, you can visit one of these historic homes at the Parque Histórico in Samborondón.
The colorfully-painted homes of the Calle Numa Pompilio Llona are part of the daytime draw to the neighborhood known as Las Peñas. Tucked in between historic homes are art galleries with a diverse variety of genres on sale.
If you’ve taken the time to hike to the top of the Cerro Santa Ana, add a few more steps to climb the winding staircase inside the famous lighthouse, El Faro. This blue-and-white-striped lighthouse has become a symbol of hope for the city of Guayaquil. A recent addition to the landscape, its presence has helped foster a strong tourist economy in the neighborhood of Las Peñas.
Even if you only go as far as the pedestrian bridge to the Isla Santay, the trip would be worth it. The view of the Río Guayas from the height of the bridge is gorgeous, especially if you arrive early morning or late afternoon. If you add a bike trip along the boardwalk, your day would be well spent. The trails take you through forests of mangroves and across muddy wetlands where rosy-pink spoonbills and squat night herons hunt for tiny fish and small frogs.
When Guayaquileños want to escape the heat of the big city, they head to the closest beach, Playas. Officially named General Villamil, this small town on the Pacific Coast of Ecuador is home to the Zhañay brothers, makers of handcrafted balsa wood surfboards. The beaches are crowded on weekends and holidays, but can be like a private paradise on the days in between.