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Ecuador’s northern coast is home to an idyllic beachside town which, for now, remains little more than a blip on the international tourist radar. Despite its lush tropical backdrop and long sandy beaches, the quaint village of Mompiche sees more fisherman than foreigners, making for a laidback and refreshingly authentic local vibe.
Nestled in the southern curve of a large crescent-shaped bay, the village is a haven for visitors who seek some serious rest and relaxation on an uncrowded stretch of sand. Unlike other seaside destinations in Ecuador and throughout South America, it’s not uncommon to have the entire beach to yourself.
Better yet, there are no hawkers hustling their wares and no need to compete for space with other rowdy holidaymakers. Indeed, on these beaches, there is little more to hear than the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore.
Mompiche is the kind of place where travelers come to just sit back and relax with a good book in hand. It’s the kind of place where bumming by the beach, sleeping in a hammock, and getting to know the locals is par for the course of a typical day. Some get bored after a few days and leave while others linger around for weeks or months on end.
But doing nothing isn’t for everyone, as there are plenty of good waves to keep surfers amused. Consistent point breaks attract a number of experienced riders to the region while a number of board hire businesses have popped up to meet demand. The swell is quite testing, though, so Mompiche isn’t the best place for beginners to try and learn the ropes.
Given this is just a quaint fishing village, after all, there are only a smattering of lodgings to be found throughout town, typically ranging from basic backpacker digs to respectable mid-range cabañas.
As for dining, the offerings almost entirely consist of freshly caught fish, ceviche, and prawns which rarely cost more than a few dollars a plate. For those with an aversion to seafood, however, traditional Ecuadorian dishes – or international favorites like pizza and pasta – can be found in some of the more tourist-friendly establishments.
As would be expected, the town begins to close down as the sun starts to set. There isn’t really much nightlife to speak of in Mompiche, with most backpackers happy to share some rum and a game of cards at the hostel with newfound friends.
In stark contrast, two upscale resorts can be found just past the headlands to the south. Modern and opulent, they’re frequented by Quito’s financial elite who roll past in their huge SUV’s without giving Mompiche a second thought. They come in search of an entirely different kind of experience, one that includes cable TV, WiFi, and gourmet cuisine.
Yet for those who opt to stay within the village itself, Mompiche is the perfect place to unplug, unwind, and recharge the travel batteries. And after a few days relaxing by the sea, most travelers agree this is the most quaint beach destination in South America.