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The Most Complete Guide of Ecuador

Discover the Ecuadorian Coast: The Spondylus Route


Manabí Province

Cojimíes

Cojimíes is a great destination to enjoy fishing and splendid beaches! Fishing trips occasionally take you to the estuary where you can find Sea Bass. The setting here is beautiful, you’ll be surrounded by mangroves.

If you are in for more adventure and bigger fish, fishing boats can take you out to sea. Fish the famous Wahoo!

You can hire tours that include the transfer from the hotel to the boarding point, a boat, life vests, bait, fish hooks, a fishing guide, water and snacks.

We also recommend that you camp in Coco Solo where you can set your tent and for an extra fee, enjoy the restaurant and the hotel facilities.

After visiting Cojimies you’re going to make your way to Jama (1h 8 min).

Jama

Jama is small but its tourism sector has been rapidly growing since people discovered the potential of its paradisiac beaches. In this area you can bask in the tranquility of empty beaches that stretch for miles.

We love this spot to enjoy the group you’re traveling with, pick a spot in the beach where you will base for the day, bring along snacks and water and enjoy.

Interesting fact: in archaeological explorations remains of the Jama-Coaque culture have been excavated. These are now exhibited in the local museum.

Next to this small town of fishermen and calm waters, you can visit El Matal. From here approx. 60 tons of fish are exported daily to nearby towns.

You’ll notice when travelling through the area that there are extensive forests in the surroundings. You can visit the dry forest where you will hear howling monkeys, and possibly observe boas and parrots.

Undoubtedly one of our favorite spots near Jama is El Arco del Amor or Love’s Arch.

El Arco del Amor, 25 km away from El Matal is supposedly one of the most romantic spots in the Spondylus route. This rock formation is approx. 10 meters high, and when the tide is low you can walk through it. Local myths say that if you cross to the other side with your lover, you’ll be guaranteed eternal happiness. It is a wonderful place to watch the sunset.

47 min away from Jama you’ll reach Canoa beach.

Canoa

A small fishing village, Canoa has a relaxed vibe, secluded cliffs, nearby caves and beautiful sunsets.  This white sand beach offers big waves and activities such as paragliding outside the city. Plus it has great restaurants with views to the beach, good prices, and delicious meals.

Some say Canoa resembles Montañita, in a smaller, less crowded, and laid-back version.

The city of Bahía, up next, is 30 min away.

Bahía

Bahía city,  located in a peninsula, used to be a boom during the 90’s.  This vacation destination combined the feel of a lively city with day trips to peaceful and extensive beaches.

Tragically, by the end of the decade a double earthquake struck. It demolished over two hundred buildings! With the reconstruction of the city came the green movement. Bahía is now considered an eco-city where there is recycling, reforestation, environmental education and conservation program

After suffering the devastation from another strong earthquake in 2016, Bahía has been actively and positively recovering!  If you stop in Bahía today, you can visit beautiful markets, galleries and viewpoints. You can also hire bike tours that take you pedaling around the estuary, the murals that were painted after the 2016 earthquake, urban art galleries and the pier!

As for gastronomy, Bahía has plenty of options. There are several restaurants with local delicacies and some international food.

Interesting fact: Los Caras Bridge (which connects Bahia to the city of San Vicente) is the longest bridge in the country!

From Bahía you can visit marvellous beaches, mangrove islands and dry forests. We recommend a visit to Isla Corazón. (15 min)

Isla Corazón

This heart-shaped island has eco-paths that were created by the community. You can kayak through mangroves and discover the wildlife that surrounds them. (You can rent kayaks in Bahia!) In Isla Corazon you can see crabs, shrimp, a variety of birds and if you’re lucky you can encounter dolphins!

Isla Corazón is a day trip.

From Bahía the next destination is Manta, 1h 30 min away.

Manta

After enjoying your stay in Bahía, 50 km away, Manta is your destination

Fishing is an important part of Manta’s history. The Jocay settlement (pre-columbian) and the Manta people were excellent navigators and fishermen. They were also traders! Navigators constructed large ships made of balsa and sailed to Mexico to exchange the famous Spondylus shells. At the time, Spondylus was so valuable it was considered currency.

Today Manta’s seafood industry drives their economy! You will notice that fish and shrimp processors and packers are found all around.

This city located in a bay will strike you for its entertainment. It has a scenic broadwalk, and a diversity of bars, restaurants and markets. The great thing about Manta is that you can choose if you want to relax by the beach or enjoy the movement of the city.

Manta has delicious gastronomy! Don’t forget to try the ceviches or the exquisite “viche de pescado.”

If you’re interested in handcrafted products take a stroll through the market, where indigenous traders sell their goods! You can also visit  nearby Playa Murciélago where you can practice surf or windsurfing.

After enjoying your stay in Manta, we recommend you leave early in the morning to Los Frailes (1h 46 minutes) which is a day trip.

Los Frailes

This beautiful beach is inside the Machalilla National Park. You can visit from 8 am to 4 pm! We recommend you pack a snack and bring a shade since there is nothing in the beach.  The beach has big waves, currents and rocks. You can take a bath or walk along the sand for its 3 km length. North of the beach you can find a trail that takes you up to the viewpoint. From here, you can observe the beauty of Los Frailes and more of the National Park. During the months of June to September you can even spot whales!

If you come during the dry season the environment will have a desertic feel, but if you come during the rainy season everything is going to be green!

From here you can stop at La Tortuguita Beach on your way to the Agua Blanca Community.

34 min to Comuna Agua Blanca.

Agua Blanca

On the way from Los Frailes to Puerto Lopez you can visit the Agua Blanca comune (deviating 5 km from the main highway). This visit is interesting for those concerned with history! Agua Blanca inhabitants are dedicated to communitary tourism and traditional activities. You will find knowledgeable guides who will gladly tell you the history of the exhibited archeological remains from the Manteña culture (more than 5,000 years old). Besides, you can also visit a lagoon with sulphurous waters of curative properties!

Puerto López

19 min away from Los Frailes.

Puerto Lopez is frequented because of its location. Visitors don’t come here to enjoy the town (it doesn’t have much to offer), but it serves as a good starting point to explore Machalilla National Park.  You can visit nearby beaches, forests and the fantastic Isla de la Plata. You can also hire whale watching tours right in town (they usually charge a fee of $15-$25 per person).

In Puerto Lopez there is a small interpretation center but it’s mostly a starting point for excursions. Here you can take scuba diving lessons or rent gear and go on a diving excursion that takes you to Isla de la Plata (40 km away).

La Isla de la Plata

Isla de la Plata is an uninhabited island of rocky cliffs. Some people say it’s the Galapagos of the region! From here you can watch blue footed boobies, red footed boobies, frigate birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. 

The excursion to the Island sets off from Puerto Lopez and it includes a guide, a snack, and snorkelling equipment. Don’t forget comfortable shoes, water, a bathing suit, a waterproof camera and a towel. Normally the day in the island lasts from 9:30 am to 5 pm. A naturalist guide from the National Park will accompany you. In the island you can find long and short trails! If you’re lucky you can see turtles in the water nearby. 

It is also a great diving destination! Locals and internationals make their way to Isla de la Plata during the months of July to September in hope of diving with giant manta rays and watching humpback whales as they jump through the Ecuadorian coast. You can also encounter turtles, octopuses, spotted eagle rays, and much more!

Between Manabí and Guayas.

After enjoying the attractions near Puerto Lopez make your way to Ayampe, 25 min away.

Ayampe

This fantastic beach is a showcase of biodiversity! Ayampe is next to an exuberant tropical jungle. It is also a great place to surf, swim, and enjoy unbelievable sunsets. The vibe is laid back, you can relax, hang out, listen to good music and enjoy their favorite water sports. The town offers local tours and surf lessons.

Interesting fact: The Ayampe River is considered an IBA (important bird watching area). It is the only big river in the canton and it is important for the region because it is vital for the habitat of various endemic species of flora and fauna.

Ayampe has many eco lodges and hotels in the hills close to the beach. Many locals com here  when they want a relaxing getaway. Frequent visitors also bring along their mountain bikes to practice in the several adventure trails.

Next up is Montañita, 32 min approx.

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