Posted by: Jena Davison | September 19, 2012

Ayangue: A Well-Kept Secret on Ecuador’s Southern Coast

I had never even heard of the small beach town of Ayangue a week before I booked a room at a Canadian-owned Bed & Breakfast there. But within moments, I had fallen in love with this calm coastal village built around a perfectly horseshoe-shaped bay. I felt instantly at ease watching the anchored blue fishing boats bob up and down to the ripples of tranquil waters—in great contrast to the rough, surfer-friendly waves of the rest of the southern Ecuadorian coast.

Fishing Boats on Ayangue’s Bay

Not only is the water still here—it is also warm—and my feet felt like welcomed guests to the gentle waves of the sea as I walked along the water’s edge. And beyond it all, at this very moment, I was feeling the sun shine for the first time in nearly a week, as my time in Puerto López, Montañita and the beach towns in between were masked by a gloominess—a relentlessly cloudy gloominess.

Ayangue’s Bay

Well if there was one thing I did know about Ayangue, it was that it is known for its cheap, fresh lobsters. Within the first few hours I was there, I was on a mission to sample these famous lobsters. I didn’t have to look too far. Dozens of small outdoor restaurants line the beach, serving plates of seafood at plastic tables and chairs buried into the sand. I settled on one called Panchita’s, and the friendly local owner took so much pride in grilling me up an entire lobster, she even cracked open some parts of the lobster with her hands and fed me pieces of meat I had missed when I claimed I was done. A lobster and a large beer, with a side of vista del mar (ocean view) for less than $10. I was smiling from ear to ear.

Lobster on the Beach

This was one of those moments when I had to snap myself back to reality and realize I was working. After my late lunch, I set out to do what I was sent here to do: update the content for the travel guidebook I work for and investigate new places to add. With a palm-sized notebook in hand, I tried to get my bearings on where each business I had to visit was located. Doing so in a place without street names is never easy, no matter how big or small. Although I typically try my best to fake knowing where I am going even when I don’t, this time I must have looked lost.

Cat Creeping Down Stairs of Eco-Lodge in Ayangue

An Ecuadorian guy in his early-thirties pulled over on his bike and asked me what I was looking for. I explained that I was a journalist writing about tourism in town and he lit up with excitement. Accompanying him to buy some avocados, he told me more than I could have ever found out about Ayangue on my own wanderings though town. He is in the middle of building a hostel and campground there, and invited me back to the construction site where his house is to share some tea and arepas with him, his Italian girlfriend and female Spanish friend. The Italian girlfriend was making intricate beads out of large tree seeds as we spoke. It felt so authentic and made me realize why it is so important to know the language in the place you visit or live, if your end goal is connecting with the local people.

Local Fisherman in Ayangue

Ayangue is a great place for scuba diving. Islote El Pelado is 15 minutes away by boat and has lots of different species of coral, rays and colorful fish. There is also a statue of Christ submerged underwater there that many people dive down just to see. You can also walk to a nearby virgin forest where Palo Santo grows or to several nearby beaches. One of the beaches is called Playa Rosada, or Pink Beach, because the excessive amounts of spondylus (spiny pink oyster) shells on the sand make it look as if the beach is pink. About an hour away, there are also rejuvenating mud baths.

Sun Setting in Ayangue

Ayangue is surprising underdeveloped but has that feeling that it is going to blow up on the tourism scene soon. It is still a well-kept secret from foreigners because it is not right off the Pan-American Highway; you need to walk about 20 minutes or take a taxi/hitch a ride to get there from the main highway. However, its beauty and charm combined with the warmth of its locals makes me sure it will see more tourism from foreigners over time, but I hope it will be able to maintain its overall small-town local vibe.


  1. Hi Jenna. Thanks for visiting my house in Ayangue, at La Rica Ruca Eco-Lodge
    ps: the name of the crowling cat is Chicho 🙂

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