If you are making a visit to Ecuador, you cannot miss this amazing coastal surf town! Located on Ecuador’s south coast in the Santa Elena province this small coastal town was once a little know surf town where a number of hippies visited during the 1960’s and never left! Nowadays, this destination is attracting more attention from backpackers and tourists due to the diverse activities available and access to some awesome surf breaks.
I spent a week in Montanita when I was traveling in South America and fell in love with the charming laid back atmosphere. The main reason we wanted to visit was to do our PADI Open Water course but we were happy to find that there is so much more to do there. Heres a few of my top picks!
FOOD & DRINK
- There are lots of great places to eat and drink here and you won’t be short of options for a cocktail and a party. In the evening the streets are lined with cocktail carts on ‘cocktail alley’ crowded with backpackers and locals. Most popular are rum, banana and milk concoctions and after a few of these you can make your way to one of the clubs in town to dance until dawn!
- DO NOT miss Rastapan!! Located on cocktail alley this little pizza place serves up the most delicious pizza / sandwiches and has a constant queue to prove its worth. I would actually go back to Ecuador just for this!
- Other great food venues include Tiki Limbo, Hola Ola and Kapadokia.
WHERE TO STAY
There are plenty of hostels and guest houses in town to choose from. We chose to stay at Montanita Estates. Just a few minutes walk up the road from the main town Montanita Estates is far enough away to offer you a good night sleep if you are tired of the thumping music. You will have a spacious room with balcony, a great swimming pool surrounded by day beds and a hot tub and a great little bar where the staff can make recommendations for take away orders from some of the restaurants in town. We absolutely loved this place and its owner, an Australian who moved to Montanita some years ago and never left.
Whilst there isn’t a huge amount of underwater activity in Montanita, it is a great location to do your Padi if you plan to then go on to dive in the Galapagos. The water temperature, visibility and conditions are quite similar, and will help prepare you for some of the more challenging dives in the Galapagos. You may even be lucky enough to see some whales whilst you are getting out to the dive sites. We chose Otro Mundo Dive Centre to do our PADI Open Water and we were really happy with the choice.
We arranged our whale watching tour with one of the local shops. They all seem to offer similar deals so go to a few to find one that suits you in terms of price and timing. This is a must do in Montanita. You will travel an hour or so along to the coast to get to the boat and then spend a few hours out on the water. We were lucky enough to see lots of whales and experience a lot of activity and breaching as you can see in my pictures!
Whilst we didn’t do any surfing here as we were busy getting up at 6am to go diving, this is a great destination for surfers. It has strong and consistent surf which is appealing to experienced surfers and challenging for those new to the sport. Waves can reach up to 2 meters between January and March and during the Carnival in February Montanita also hosts a surf competition.
I hope that this article has inspired you to visit Montanita, Ecuador. If you have any questions about Ecuador travel please leave these in the comments below.
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