A man swimming in the sea around the Galapagos Islands

The Best Beach Towns in Ecuador

Ecuador has long been known by adventure travellers as the perfect place to hike, trek, and participate in some seriously extreme extreme sports. For science and history enthusiasts, it’s known for the Galapagos Islands – the famed birthplace of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. However, some travellers don’t know that Ecuador is also a fantastic destination for a dream beach holiday. Ecuador’s landscape is varied, consisting of both the Amazon jungle and Andean Highlands, but, as a coastal country, you’ll find plenty of beaches – and beach towns – to explore and relax on. Here are just a few of our favourites.


Travel to: Ecuador


Best time to visit Ecuador

Ecuador straddles the equator, meaning that some of the country is in the northern hemisphere and some in the southern. However, most of the country lies in the southern hemisphere, which means June to September is considered to be winter, and summer runs between October to May. Peak seasons (and thus, the most expensive times to visit) align with major holidays – if you’re planning on visiting over the December holiday season, expect to pay more and to deal with larger crowds. However, nearly every day of the year in Ecuador will be beach-worthy nearly every day of the year, so don’t worry too much about when you’re visiting. 

The best beach towns in Ecuador

Montanita

If you’re looking for the epitome of chill, you’ll find it in Montanita. Whether you’re looking to spend your time travelling relaxing on the beach or fitting into a new culture, this beachside town is perfect. Many travellers stay here for months at a time, taking advantage of the community’s sense of free-spirited nature to truly become part of it. You’ll find travellers from far and wide here, most of the backpackers, all of them ready to introduce themselves and get to know you in return. Montanita is a fantastic destination for solo travellers, especially: here, you’ll never worry about making new friends or joining in on something new and exciting. 

A male/female couple embracing at sunset in Montanita, Ecuador
Montanita is the perfect beach city to meet new people | © Pixabay

Manta

Manta is usually a vacation destination for Ecuadorian tourism, which means if you’re looking for a more authentic experience away from the usual tourist traps and crowds, it may be just the spot for you. The fourth-largest city in Ecuador, Manta is a major transportation hub for the rest of the country – but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked as a destination in itself. Here, you’ll find a vibrant nightlife, some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever have, and even a massive statue of a tuna! This is a capital of industry in Ecuador, so while you may not find the same cultural experiences you’d find in a tourist-oriented city, there’s still plenty of fun to be hand in Manta – and the less-crowded beaches are a huge plus. 

A sunny day at a beach in Ecuador
Santa Marianita beach in Manta | © Andrés Medina/Unsplash

Salinas

For travellers who like their beach cities pretty and polished, Salinas is the biggest resort town in Ecuador and one of the most well-kept beach city in the country. Perfect for those looking for a more luxurious stay in a major resort, Salinas is also home to the westernmost point in mainland Ecuador – this gorgeous lookout point is begging to be the new star of your Instagram! 

Just because Salinas is pretty doesn’t mean it’s lacking for fun things to do, either: there are so many opportunities for water activities that travellers will have trouble deciding what to do each day, and the whale-watching in Salinas is absolutely incredible. 

The beach in Salinas, Ecuador on a cloudy day
Beautiful Salinas | © Diego Tirira/Flickr

The Galapagos Islands

While most people wouldn’t refer to the Galapagos Islands simply as a “beach city,” this awe-inspiring natural wonder does, in fact, have some incredible beaches – if you’re willing to share the space with the plentiful friendly animals who call these islands home! The main island in the Galapagos is Isla Isabela, which is where much of the hotels and infrastructure can be found. Here, not only will you enjoy up close and personal encounters with wildlife like seals, sea turtles, penguins, and thousands of other animals (some of whom are native only to these islands), you’ll be able to walk amongst active volcanoes, learn about Charles Darwin’s research and legacy, and, yes; lounge on the beach. 

A seal lounging on the sand in the Galapagos Islands
You may have to share the beach with some friendly locals in the Galapagos Islands! | © Caroline Ebinger/Unsplash

Tonsupa

Tonsupa is known for its immaculate beaches, but, to the delight of some visitors, the more relaxed pace of life here makes for fewer crowds. Travellers will have plenty of room to roam around the golden beaches and explore the city, but should note that Tonsupa isn’t known as a “party town.” While you’ll certainly find some nightlife here, Tonsupa is more appropropriate for a traditional beach vacation spent relaxing on the sand or swimming with some of the underwater locals. Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t be without a drink! There are plenty of adorable bars dotted along the beach and city centre, and all of them serve delicious drinks. 

Machalilla National Park

For the nature lover looking for a beach destination outside of the Galapagos, look no further than Machalilla National Park. The only coastal national park in Ecuador, Machalilla protects one of the country’s most precious resources: one of the most threatened tropical forests in the world. Machalilla is where travellers can get a glimpse of what the South American coast once looked like; gorgeous beaches, tropical rainforests, an abundance of wildlife, and huge expanses of sea. While travellers won’t be able to stay overnight in the park (and note that outside food is not permitted in order to preserve the natural order of the park, though there are snack shacks open for visitors), Machalilla should be at the very top of your list no matter what you’re looking for during your time in Ecuador. 

Whether you’re looking to spend your time in Ecuador lounging on beautiful beaches, surfing the perfect wave, stepping through history, or any combination of the three, you’re practically guaranteed to find the perfect beach for you somewhere! And remember; if you want to explore more of beautiful Ecuador, taking a group tour may be the best, most affordable way to see the country as it deserves.

Where is your favourite beach in the world? 

Maggie is a life-long traveller who, after three years abroad, has returned home to Toronto, where she works as a Content Editor at TourRadar. When she's not reading, writing, or dreaming about her next trip, she can usually be found cooing over other people's dogs or hunting down Mexican food.

A woman standing in front of a lake in the Falll
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