Posted by: Jena Davison | November 4, 2010

Feriado in Montañita

So far, so good. I’ve been back in Quito for about two and a half weeks now and I have already managed to get out of the city for a weekend. I actually had some mixed feelings about leaving for the weekend, since it was feriado (holiday) and I knew it would be super crowded on the coast, where quiteños and guayaquileños tend to flock come vacation time. However, upon the first sound of waves, I was all but assured that we had made a great choice and so began our fantastic weekend in Montañita.

Montañita Beach

I have been to the Ecuadorean coast only twice since I got to Ecuador in January, and both times I went to Canoa in the province of Manabí, along the northern coast. I love it there and everytime I think beach, I can’t help but want to go back again and again. However, this time I went to the southern coast, about twelve hours from Quito along the Ruta del Sol, to a beach bum town called Montañita where marijuana culture is outward, dreads flow downward and beer just flows.

At first look, I noticed how much more developed Montañita is than Canoa. Even though it is still only about a 10×4 block radius, there are many more accommodation options, restaurants and cafés strewn throughout and there are even some serious-looking, multi-level discotecas on or slightly off the beach. Electronic, reggaeton and merengue beats thump loudly until the early morning hours, finally ceasing around breakfast time. Many more gringos have caught on to the appeal of Montañita as well; I spotted lots of foreigners, old and young, drunk and sober, blonde and brunette.


Many of the establishments have artsy decors and vibes, with psychadelic or nature-inspired paintings splashing color on otherwise wooden walls. Typical coastal fare crowds the menus, with seafood-based specialties like fish in garlic sauce, shrimp in coconut sauce, fried fish/shrimp/calamari and ceviche reigning. However, pizza, sushi, crepes and vegetarian options are also available in sit-down environments. In fact, one of the best slices of carrot cake I have ever tasted was homemade at a vegetarian restaurant owned by a woman from Puyo, Ecuador (in the jungle). She also prepared me a delicious cup of tea infused with ginger, honey and lemon upon hearing about my upset stomach. Of course, later on at night, the smell of hamburgers and fried foods fill the air as stands set up camp selling sandwiches and empanadas to drunken patrons.

For a more authentic experience, lots of little ceviche stands dot the beach and the dirt roads leading to and away from a few beach access points. At these stands, you can watch the men and women crack open conch or oyster shells or prepare shrimp and pescado for ceviches. Jesua told me that ceviche gets more sour as you move further south down the coast and man did I pucker up while eating it. It was so delicious that I had to ignore the fact that my taste buds were paralyzed from the citrus, but washing it down with the sweetness of a nice cold Club beer did the trick. Topped off with tostados, or toasted corn, the ceviche had a nice extra crunch to it, a mixture of textures my mouth certainly appreciated.

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The nightlife in Montañita is raging, and since it was feriado, the ordinary parties were upped a few notches. Everyone seemed to have an elevated, por que no?-vibe. Streets were suffocatingly crowded at points with those looking for a good time, stands serving tropical alcoholic beverages were packed and the actual beach was peppered with small bonfires and tents. Jesua and I wove through the bonfires, landed at a cabaña/bar on the beach and danced to merenge and salsa music for the majority of Sunday night. I can’t keep up with those Latin girls, but I tried my best to follow his lead to the Latin rhythms.

The days were muy tranquilo (very relaxed), and we passed most of our time lying on the beach, walking to the cliffs on one far end of the beach or strolling through town. As much as we hoped and wished for the sun to come out over the four days we were there, it never did actually shine, but we still managed to relax and take in the sounds and smells of the beach. We also had our share of fruity coctails like passionfruit caipirinhas and the supersized Coco Loco, which had coconut milk and rum and was topped with pineapple slices. Browsing through handicrafts was also a fun way to pass the time as the streets are lined with tables selling knotted and beaded jewelery, straw hats and coconut-carved figurines.

Besides the less-than-ideal weather during the trip and my one-day bout of food poisoning that left me weak, crippled and vomiting, I had a wonderful time. I love Montañita and I left feeling so much more happy and relaxed than when I had arrived. Que rico playa!



  1. Hi, my name is Tony I am a blind traveller who enjoys travelling the world and meeting people. I really like your blog and will pass it onto my Ecuador friend. It would be good to chat and share Ideas. I am coming to finish travelling South America next January-April with a view of travelling to Antarctica as well. The plan is to visit Ecuador sometime in October 2010. You have great passion for Latin America and Ecuador, it is like mine. Check out my website to read about a likeminded traveller. Best
    Tony from England

  2. Hi, I like the way you describe escaping from the city immediately on return to Kito and heading to the beach It brings back memories of Rio de Janeiro and the fun of the beaches and crazyness of that 2004 trip. Once I get off the road from this trip around the Caucas, Turkey and Greece I#ll check out more of this fascinationg site. Happy SA writings. Tony

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