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The Best of Ecuador's Southern Coast

Tiny seaside villages along the coast feel like undiscovered tropical treasures

Buses to the towns on Ecuador\’s southern coast are extremely inexpensive ($6 for Guayaquil to Montañita, for example). Taxis are much pricier ($80 for the same route), but get you door to door in less time and are an easier option between villages.
Beach-bumming and surfing are the main attractions along the
stretch of Ecuador’s laid-back Ruta del Sol between Guayaquil and Puerto López.
These tiny seaside villages with tranquil beaches and inexpensive lodgings are
off the mainstream tourist circuit and feel like undiscovered tropical
treasures.

Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, with more than 2 million
residents, is the place to begin a tour of the lower Sun Route. From here, the
small surfing town of Montañita, is about three hours north by bus. Generally
favored by younger travelers, Montañita has become quite the backpacker hot
spot in recent years, resulting in freshly paved roads and new hotels,
including the Majagua Adventure
Boutique Hotel
, with a fabulous ocean view from its top-floor suite.

Ayampe, small village 30 minutes north, has beautiful empty
beaches and excellent surfing. Stay at Los
Orishas
, which has private rooms near the beach for just $15 per person per
night, or at Palmas Coco, which has private beachfront cabins.

Another 30 minute drive north brings you to the coastal Machalilla National Park, known
as the poor-man’s Galápagos for its many endangered species and low tour costs.
Howler monkeys, armadillos, humpback whales, dolphins, and 200 species of birds
are among the park’s residents. Los Frailes, within the park, is arguably
Ecuador’s most beautiful beach. In the nearby fishing village Puerto López, stay
at the Hostería Mandála, with it
wood-and-thatch-roof cabins and private porches strung with hammocks.

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