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My-Quito.com : coastal regions


The Coast: Guayas, Manabi, Esmeraldas and El Oro
Imagen2 043There is an intense rivalry between the people of the high Andes and those that live on the coastal lowlands. While Quito is the capital of Ecuador, Guayaquil is the largest city. Quito is the administrative capital and Guayaquil the commercial centre. The character of the regions is very different too. The Sierra is mountainous, with a moderate climate, whereas the coastal lowlands range from dry to humid subtropical, with an average temperature of 25°C.
 
And while Quiteños may espress their disdain for the Costeños in abusive chants at football matches, this is where many Quiteños choose to take their holidays, and with good reason.
 
For 2000 km the coast is made up of beautiful sand covered beaches, mangrove swamps and fishing villages.
 
The Pacific coast is made up of four provinces -Esmeraldas, Manabí, Guayas, and El Oro and the inland province of Los Rìos.
 
Esmeraldas
DSCF2073Otherwise known as the "Green Province", the Esmeraldas occupy the North West corner of the country. It is a region of lush flooded forest and mangrove swamp that form an ideal setting for river tours. However it is best known for the stunning pacific beaches, with Atacames being the leading resort, but you will probably want to move on to the less populated beaches at Sua and Same. In the north, the Cayapas-Mataje Ecological Reserve contains the world's tallest mangroves in El Majagual forest. Wherever you go you are likely to come across Marimba groups performing local dances and folk songs.
 
Probably the best know hotel in the region is the exclusive Club Casablanca in Same -a bit too expensive for us, but last time we were there we had an excellent time just down the beach at El Acantilado, where we stayed in one of the thatched cabins overlooking the Pacific. Having arrived at night from Quito, the morning sunrise over the ocean was both unexpected and spectacular.
 
The city of Esmeraldas, with 120,000 occupants, acts as the centre of the region's lumber trade and is the terminus of the trans Ecuadorean oil pipeline.
 
Naturally with the coastal situation, the sea food is excellent, and the Creole cuisine includes fish cooked with coconut (Encococado de pescado), with plantain (tapao) or simply grilled, as well as ceviches and empanadas.
 
Precautions against malaria are necessary in this and other coastal regions.
 
Further information:
Esmeraldas -more information from the ministry of tourism.


Manabí
DSCF1948South of Esmeraldas, lies the province of Manabí. On the coast here are the beach towns of Puerto López, Montañita, and Bahía de Caráquez, and the city of Manta, Ecuador's second largest port.
 
The region also boasts Machalilla National Park, famous for its perfect beach at Los Frailes and. Machalilla, with some 130,000 acres, is the only coastal national park in Ecuador and also encompasses Isla de la Plata, a small island with inhabited by many of the animals found on the Galapagos, including Blue Footed Boobies, and pelicans. It is also a great place to go snorkelling and to watch hump back whales and dolphins. You could even stumble upon Drake's treasure- the island is said to have been one of the places where Drake stashed his loot...
 
Elsewhere, the town of Montecristi is the original place of manufacture of the famous Panama Hats, and is a great place to buy all kinds of straw ware.
 
Manta, the country's second largest port, is a major holiday resort centre. With its lively atmosphere, it is a popular destination for partygoers as well as visiting cruise liners from the Caribbean and other ships (it is also a US military base). At the main beach of Murciélago, you will find a good choice of restaurants and bars serving excellent seafood and local drinks. In particular you should try the seafood ceviches here.
Further information:
Manabi -information from the ministry of tourism.
Ruta del Sol -tourist site with information on the coastal peninsula of Santa Elena from Salinas to Puerto Cayo in Manabí.
Manabi and the Ruta del Sol -more about the area from our 2007 trip to Machalilla and Hosteria Alandaluz.


Guayaquil and Southern Guayas Province
This is the heart of Ecuador's commerce with the huge port of Guayaquil at its centre. Guayaquil is Ecuador's largest city and handles over half of the country's exports. The bustling city is often avoided by tourists, although it has undergone substantial improvements in the last few years. Like Quito, it is possible to stay in world class hotels, and shop for the latest fashions in modern indoor shopping centres. Malecón Avenue on the riverside is worth a visit with its parks, restaurants, museums and theatre. Las Peñas is a beautiful colonial area, also worth seeing.
 
Elsewhere in the province there are many beaches, interspersed with shrimp farms. Needless to say the seafood is very good.
Some 150km north of Guayaquil is Salinas, a modern beachfront city that is a great place for watersports -fishing, wind surfing, jet skiing, or snorkeling are all popular.
 
Municipality of Guayaquil -official website for the City government.
Guayas -more information from the ministry of tourism.
InGuayaquil -comprehensive guide to Ecuador's largest city.
Portal Web Cámara de Turismo del Guayas -official tourism portal of Guayas region.
Hostels -budget accommodation Guayaquil.


El Oro
Imagen2 083Stretching from Guayaquil to the border with Peru, the southernmost province of El Oro is the banana capital of Ecuador. It is also a major producer of shrimp from the mangrove backed beaches. The climate is humid and hot. The region's capital is Machala, a lively town offering good accomodation and restaurants. Every September 24th the town celebrates the world banana fair.
 
The port of Puerto Bolívar is set in the midst of mangrove swamps and is known for its seafood, including lobster, shellfish, squid, and mussels.
 
Other places to visit include the colonial village of Zaruma, the gold mines of Portobelo, the petrified forest at Puyango, the spa at La Cocha, and the islands of Jambelí and Santa Clara (accessed by motor boat from Puerto Bolívar).
 
If you are travelling overland to Peru via Huaquillas, it is a good idea to check out the situation before leaving Quito or Guayaquil, as the situation can sometimes be tense because of a long running border dispute.
 
El Oro - information from the ministry of tourism.
 
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Hostels -budget accommodation on the Ruta del Sol.
Hotels -hotels on the pacific Coast of Ecuador.
 
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