Most famous for its surf scene and rowdy all-night fiestas, you could be forgiven for thinking there isn’t much else to do in the Ecuadorian town of Montañita. But despite its small size and laid-back vibe, there are a surprising number of activities to keep travelers busy in this booming beach destination. Here are our suggestions.
Catch some waves
Montañita is known for having some of the best breaks in South America, a fact that attracts scores of serious surfers year after year. Though it’s not all about the pros hustling for monster waves, as gentle swells and high-quality surf schools allow beginners to get on their feet and hang ten in no time.
Brush up on your Spanish
Due to its relaxed vibe and thriving traveler’s scene, plenty of backpackers choose Montañita as a base to hone their language skills. Several local schools offer intensive study packages for very reasonable prices.
Learn some new skills
As you would expect from a laid-back beach town with a hippie vibe, yoga and massage are popular local pastimes. Rather than just opting for an individual session, some travelers stick around to train towards full certification. Who knows? You might even find yourself with an entirely new career path after a trip to Montañita.
Kick back and relax
One of the great things about visiting a chilled-out beach town is there’s no rush to get out and frantically explore the sights each day. Instead, travelers in Montañita relish the chance to just hang out and do nothing, preferably on a hammock by the beach with a good book in hand.
Spot some spectacular birdlife
Don’t have the money for a trip to the Galapagos? Not to worry, because Isla de la Plata is the next best thing. Blue-footed boobies abound on the island, as do a number of other curious species as well as a legion of tiny red crabs. Those who happen to visit between June and September should even be able to spot a humpback whale or two.
Sample some ceviche
No visit to a South American seaside town would be complete without a sampling some local ceviche. Grab a bowl of the good stuff from one of the mobile yellow street carts or opt for a more sophisticated dining experience at an upmarket beachfront restaurant.
Check out Ecuador’s best beach
A couple hours north of town lies Los Frailes, widely considered to be the best beach in Ecuador. With blindingly white sand and inviting turquoise water, this crescent-shaped slice of paradise is sheltered by high cliffs on each side, meaning it’s a tranquil spot for a relaxing swim.
Cover yourself in mud
For a different kind of day trip, head north and inland towards the Agua Blanca community-run tourism project. Here, friendly local guides take tourists on a forested hiking trail as they passionately educate on the flora and fauna of the region. The trip finishes with a dip in a muddy sulfur bath that’s said to be highly beneficial for the skin.
South of town lies the modest beachfront village of Valdivia, mostly known for its Pre-Columbian history museum. The town also has an aquarium with a decent collection of blue-footed boobies, penguins, and turtles on display. Stop off at Libertador Bolivar on the way home for some cheap, high-quality artisanal souvenirs.
Have a boozy night out
Let’s face it, most travelers stick around in Montañita to party the night away by the sea. Everyone heads to the aptly named Cocktail Alley as the sun sets for a few warm-ups before cutting loose at a thumping nightclub or outdoor rave until the early hours of the morning.