Montañita is a charming village with a laid back atmosphere and around 1000 inhabitants, located at Ecuador’s west coast. The former fishermen settlement started to grow in the 1960s when many hippies, surfers and other free spirits started to settle down there. Because of its tropical coastal climate with an average of 28°C, pretty warm water and outstanding surfing possibilities the town grew up to one of the biggest tourist attractions Ecuador’s.
The streets are packed with restaurants, bars, hostels, tour operators and clubs. There is no supermarket, but several small shops with long opening hours (you can do your shoppings at least untill 10.00 - 11.00). It’s pretty crowded and it seems that something is going on all the time, especially at night it’s hard to find a calm spot to hang out. At first glance, it seems to be a very commercial and stressful place, but somehow it appeared to keep its hippie atmosphere. While walking through the streets you will hear reggae music in many places, you will find vegetarian food and yoga classes, alternative parties and many people smoking pot in the streets, which achieved its nickname: The little Amsterdam of Ecuador. The town is small enough to reach everything by foot, but a bike is quiet useful and many people use them to come around.
Besides mainly young visitors, it is also a family place and a good location for older people. Basically there is something to do for every age, income and preferences. Popular activities are: windsurfing, bodyboarding, scuba diving and of course surfing. Actually it is considered as the best surf spot of Ecuador and is as well pretty popular for surfers from all over the world. The shore offers strong and consistent waves with good tubes for professional surfers and attractive challenges for starters. While the waves in winter are reaching heights from 0.3 to 1m, they can be up to 2 meters in summer during January and March. Every February Montañta is hosting a big international surfing competition. The rental for a board is with 5 to 10$ per hour not really cheap compared to other places in Ecuador and Peru, a two hour lesson including board and instructor will be around 30$.
As big as surfing, is the party scene of Montañita. Basically there is every day something going on in one of the several clubs or pubs. During the summertime the beach serves as dance floor with many open air festivals. One of the must see for party people is the Lost Beach Club (among the DJMag top 100 clubs) with pounding techno and house music. Quiet expensive at weekends with entrance fees up to 20$ and very keen every Monday, which is the according too many locals the best day for a visit.
Besides that, there are two more good reasons to drop by. One is the cleanliness, Montañita is by far the cleanest beach we have visited in Ecuador and many other places in South America. There is no plastic, glass or trash in the ocean, all streets are clean and equipped with several trash bins, which makes a very nice impression. The other one is the food, with many tourists comes a large variety of food. From burgers, kebabs, pancakes, tacos, Ecuadorian and Chinese cuisine over ice creams, cakes up to fancy restaurants there is something for every taste. The best thing is that everything is super delicious. Really good for instance is the falafel / kebab & taco place in the center, with the tastiest homemade bread and fillings you can think of.
In general the surfer town not the cheapest place in Ecuador but it’s possible to come along with around 10$ per person and day. A bed in a dorm starts from 5$, a private room for two is only slightly more expensive and camping would be around 3$ per person including hot shower and kitchen. If you prefer a hotel, the coasts can be easily up to 25 and more per night. The entrance to a club is between 5 and 15$, a quick lunch would start around 4$, snacks are available from 1 - 2$. A beer in a public place would is between 1 and 4$.
So far so good, the only question remaining is when to go? Even though it’s warm all year long and it’s never a really bad time to come along, there are certain seasons in Montañita. From August till November for example it is often cloudy and mainly grey with only a few sunny hours a day. Followed by the rain season (December - May), which is already better, since it doesn't rain too much and usually only at night. From January till June is the high season. The best travel time since its constantly great weather, the warmest water of the year and the most activities going on. At the same time this means also way more tourists and higher prices, but hey you can´t have everything.
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