From the international airport in Guayaquil, it is a mere two-hour drive to the coastal resort town of Salinas, Ecuador. It makes a great home base for exploring the sandy beaches of the Santa Elena Province, while having access to quality accommodations, excellent restaurants, and easy transportation. And there are so many reasons to visit.
Discover the best beaches on the Ecuadorian Pacific Coast
Many of the best beaches on the Pacific Coast of Ecuador are located in or near Salinas. From this resort town, it is easy to find a hotspot for sunbathing, a break for great surf, or miles of sandy beaches simply for beach combing. While the majority of well-known spots are further to the north towards Montañita, lesser-visited beaches can be found to the southeast and are easily accessed by back roads.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Eat delicious Ecuadorian seafood
Salinas is home to a few fine-dining establishments and even more mom-and-pop restaurants with tasty home-cooked meals and absolutely delicious seafood. Whether you love Ecuadorian-style ceviche or langostinos on the grill, the catch of the day is likely to come from the nearby fish market in Libertad, fresh from the Pacific Ocean.
Sunbathe alongside notable Ecuadorians
Salinas is the vacation destination of the President of Ecuador and many other notable politicians, business owners, and celebrities. The President has a vacation home on Playa Chipipe, where the local navy base provides security and some level of privacy. While he can visit any time of the year, the president usually comes for the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
Celebrate New Year’s Eve like an Ecuadorian
Salinas holds one of the best New Year’s Eve fireworks displays in the entire country. Playa de San Lorenzo and Playa Chipipe provide front row seats to watch the spectacular display burst high above and reflect in the calm ocean water below. During the day, vendors sell yellow underwear, the traditional garb for New Year’s Eve festivities, while many men dress like women, pretending to be widows of the old year. Later in the evening, locals will burn effigies and jump over the flames, an act that symbolizes rebirth and renewal for the year to come, and hundreds more will don white clothing to wade into the ocean at midnight.
Stand on the furthest western point in Ecuador
La Chocolatera is a spit of land that sticks out into the Pacific Ocean, and is the furthest western point in Ecuador. Until a few years ago, this spot could not be visited without special permission for the local military base. Today, just show your passport or other identification at the gate and head on out to see the historic marker and the lighthouse. Nearby, you can visit La Loberia, home to the northernmost colony of Otaria flavescens (the South American sea lion), surf the challenging break at Punta Brava, or enjoy the sunset from the Mirador Puntilla de Santa Elena.
Try your hand at bird watching
Coastal Ecuador is a great place to see many iconic birds of Ecuador, like the blue-footed booby and the magnificent frigatebird. Salinas is also home to a tiny parrot, the Pacific parrotlet, found in the trees on the local navy base, the small rufous-tailed hummingbird, and a migrating colony of Chilean flamingos, which can be seen hanging out with other marsh loving-species like the black-necked stilt, white-cheeked pintails, and snowy egrets at the Lagunas de Ecuasal.
Hit the waves
The Pacific Coast of Ecuador is growing in popularity for surfers. While Salinas does not have waves worth surfing directly from the Malecon, nearby beaches like Punta Brava, offer great breaks. A day trip to the famous beach town of Montañita is only a couple of hours away.
Explore ancient cultures
Some of the first civilizations in Ecuador left clues to their origins along this stretch of the Pacific Coast. In neighboring Santa Elena, the Museum of Los Amantes is the site of an ancient burial ground of the Vegas culture, who lived in the region around 9000BCE. And just an hour or so north is Valdivia, a center for archeology finds from the region and the namesake of the civilization that thrived here from 4000 to 1800BCE.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.