Whenever you hear about the Pacific Ocean beaches of Ecuador, often the focus is mostly on the two more populated cities on the coast—the port city of Manta and the resort town of Salinas.
Imagine a mid-sized city set in the midst of protective Andean peaks. Within the city itself, centuries-old structures from the Republican era still play home to religious ceremonies, banks, restaurants, and families.
The small leather craft village of Cotacachi, Ecuador, is 8,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains, yet its location on the equator makes the weather there ideal all year-round. On a typical Sunday, Cotacachi is bustling with activity, and there is much to see and do.
When you think of Salinas, on the southwestern Pacific Coast of Ecuador, you picture big crowds and lots of water activity under a hot summer sun. But this is not the only side of Salinas. It is one of the most popular beach destinations for Ecuadorians and an increasing number of North American “snow birds”, but us year-round residents get to experience something wonderful—Low Season!
Punta Blanca is a beautiful, exclusive area on Ecuador's southern Pacific coast. Only about a four-hour drive from colonial Cuenca, where I live, Punta Blanca has a super-convenient location 30 minutes north of Salinas, the country's most developed resort area, and 30 minutes south of the always happening party town of Montanita. Because Punta Blanca is residential, you need a vehicle to get there and to get around, as there are no stores or restaurants within walking distance. Rentals are available, and visitors are treated to a gorgeous and isolated beachfront experience with lots of activities and amenities nearby.
Expats have flocked to Cuenca, Ecuador in recent years for its great weather, low cost of living, and excellent health care. But most people aren’t aware until they arrive here that my hometown boasts five universities. And because Cuencanos speak what is recognized as the purest Spanish outside of Spain, we also have many Spanish language schools attracting study abroad students from all over the world. Great university towns are known as cultural hubs and artistic centers with a fun, vibrant atmosphere, and Cuenca is no exception. No, you won’t find wild tailgating parties happening during the fall—they play that “other kind” of football here.
Travelers flock to Ecuador each year to enjoy the country’s diverse regions, exotic wildlife, and of course the famed Galapagos Islands. Some visitors become so enthralled with Ecuador that their vacation becomes a permanent stay. But whether you’re a passer through or a smitten expat, don’t miss out on Ecuador’s vast cultural options.
Franco himself is buried here, and he left a written message that reads, "In Tulcán, a cemetery so beautiful that it invites one to die."
Ninety minutes south of Manta on Ecuador's Pacific Coast is the fishing village of Puerto Lopez. With the exception of a new gas station and a couple of new banks, not much has changed in Puerto Lopez since I first visited here 10 years ago with my wife Suzan Haskins.
In this video, IL’s editor Dan Prescher is in Manta, Ecuador. Manta is a major port and tuna processing center on Ecuador's Pacific coast, and just south of Manta is the fishing village of Crucita.