The Most Complete Guide of Ecuador

Discover the Ecuadorian Coast: The Spondylus Route

The best way to enjoy the top beaches on the Ecuadorian Coast is the Spondylus Route or Ruta del Sol! This famous route is frequently travelled by locals and internationals who wish to visit the coast and experience the different feels, cultures, adventures, sports, etc.  of its diverse beaches.

The route got its name from the Spondylus, a sacred shell that used to be a symbol of prosperity in the cultures that inhabited South America during pre-Columbian times. The red/purple colored shell was also presented as an offering in ceremonies. It represents fertility and agricultural success. The Spondylus became so important during the time that it was even used as currency in the continent! This route encompasses the journey of the Spondylus through the Ecuadorian coastline.

We will start this route in Quito, but you can also depart from Guayaquil and make your way up.

Esmeraldas Province

We begin in the province of Esmeraldas, a tropical and warm region. Due to its exuberant vegetation, they call it “The Green Province.” The jovial Afro-Ecuadorian community gives it an upbeat feel.

Atacames, our first stop, is 4 h 30 min away from Quito.


In Atacames you will find long beaches with multiple resorts. It  has the vibe of a big city, and you will surely find plenty to do during nighttime, when you are not relaxing by the beach.

We recommend that you make a day trip to Súa. During the months of July-September you can go whale watching and spot humpback whales! These impressive animals are majestic dancers of the sea. You can hire whale watching tours directly from the beach and spot whales only a short distance of 20 min from the shore.  These playful creatures put on a natural show as they jump out of the water to show their white bellies.

Esmeraldas’ gastronomy is based on seafood and green plantains. You will surely try seafood platters that usually come with a side of patacones (they’re like thick plantain chips).

If you are interested in gastronomy, you can make a short trip to Tonchigue, where you can try a delicious version of the “bolón”  accompanied by garlic shrimp.

From Atacames the next destination is Playa Escondida beach, which is 40 min away.

Punta Galera and Playa Escondida

From Tonchigue the road splits to Muisne (south) and Punta Galera (west, along the Coast). Playa Escondida, 10 km in, is a charming beach. Ecologically minded, serene hideaway. Private beach tha

t overlooks a cove, semi tropical semi deciduous forest. Buses leave from the Malecon in Esmeraldas and pass all the coastal towns on the way to el puente de Tonchigue.

After Punta Galera,  make your way to Mompiche, 1h 8 minutes away.


Mompiche is smaller than Esmeraldas, and it has a small town vibe. This particular small town is very welcoming. On its few main streets you can try delicious local food such as the famous “corviches” or sit down at an open restaurant to try the amazing “encocados.” Mompiche is surrounded by an exuberant rainforest and it is also home to many hostels and friendly surfers.

Emerald green trees, little fishing village. The village hotels are all near the beach on the sheltered side of the bay.

2h away from Mompiche visit Cojimíes.

Mompiche is our last stop in Esmeraldas, for our next destination, click here to follow the route through the province of Manabí.

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