The surf village of Montañita is a sleepy little town by day and then a raucous display of debauchery at night. For a town with a population of only 4,500, the booming nightclubs rival those of much larger party cities. The beach parties felt like a smaller-scale version of Thailand’s belligerent Full Moon Party. Life is simple here and it’s no wonder why both international backpackers and Ecuadorian holidayers flock to this quaint town on Ecuador’s Pacific Coast.
How To Get To Montañita
Montañita is located along Ecuador’s Pacific Coast. It is a very small town sandwiched in between the slightly bigger towns of Santa Elena and Puerto Lopez. If you’re coming from Quito or Baños or any other major city in Ecuador, you will likely have to stop by in one of those cities to transfer to Montañita. EcuadorHop offers direct transportation from Baños to Montañita but it also stops to drop people off in Guayaquil at around 5:30 AM. However, you can sleep through that and don’t have to worry until you get to Montañita.
Where To Stay in Montañita, Ecuador
There are an insane amount of hostels and hotels in Montañita. It is hard to narrow it down but thanks to my time hostel hopping, I can narrow it down for you.
This was my favorite place that I stayed while in Montañita. It has one of the largest spaces I have ever seen in a hostel. It’s a beautiful green space right along the river loaded with hammocks, couches, and all the chill out spots you could ask for. It has decent Wi-Fi and some of the best drink specials you can ask for. My first night in Montañita, I was staying at a different hostel and our entire hostel moved to Hidden House for their $5 all you can drink open bar that lasted 4 hours.
Rooms start as low as $5 for a dorm. I paid $7 for a 4 bed dorm and had the room to myself the entire time I was here.
For something a bit closer to the beach, Esperanto is a pretty solid choice. It lacks the large community area of Hidden House but it has an amazing view of the beach from the top floor balcony. It starts at about $10 for a dorm but you are allowed and encouraged to bring your own alcohol and drink it at the hostel. As a solo traveler, I did not find it to be a very social place. However, if you’ve got a good group to split a bottle of liquor, the $10 price can be justified.
This place seemed to have a pretty cozy but social vibe. I passed it every day and there always seemed to be people socializing and hanging out in the outdoor common area. We stopped by here once for an open bar they were hosting and it was a good time. It’s definitely one of the top social hostels in Montañita.
Moai was recommended to me by a friend before I ultimately chose other hostels. The vibe here is pretty good and its location is very close to all of the action. It is right across the river from the main part of Montañita and takes only about 3 minutes to get to where all the fun is at.
Located a bit further out from the town of Montañita is Kamala. This amazing hostel boasts a pool and a secluded location. It is super cheap to stay here. Like unbelievably cheap considering what you’re getting. The only downside is that it’s about half an hour’s walk along the beach to get to the main part of Montañita. If you’re a party animal who wants to experience Montañita’s nightlife to the fullest, that could be a problem.
If you prefer a little privacy after your partying, you might want to consider getting an Airbnb. There are quite a few good ones in Montañita.
Things To Do In and Around Montañita
Montañita is known for its surf. Compared to other surf towns I’ve been to across the world, I didn’t find it to be anything amazing. However, it has constant waves which makes it a good place for beginners and intermediates. A lot of places offer surf lessons for $20 or board rental for $5 per hour. You can negotiate and usually get the board for the whole day for $10.
Montañita has a long strip of beach. It isn’t a jaw-dropping scene by any means but it is a great place to relax, swim, and take it slow. The popularity of Montañita means that the beach can get very crowded. But at the same time, you have everything you need within a minute’s walk from the beach. Food, drinks, umbrellas, whatever.
Eating was my favorite activity to do in Montañita, during the day at least. There are some incredible restaurants in Montañita, to my pleasant surprise. I had some of the best crepes, kebabs, falafel, and Ecuadorian food that I have had to date. Some of the restaurants, like Tiki Limbo and Papillon are extremely trendy and hip. Food in Montañita is a bit pricier than the rest of Ecuador but that would come with any trendy beach town.
For budget options, almuerzos are always around. The shawarma place has $3.50 kebabs which were absolutely amazing. If you’re around late at night, the hamburger stands will sell some incredibly tasty drunk food for about $3. Peruvian, Italian, Tex-Mex, and even Israeli restaurants have found their way into Montañita. Being vegetarian or vegan in Montañita is also more doable than in less touristic parts of Ecuador. I stumbled into a couple of vegan places while wandering around.
This is what you came to Montañita for, isn’t it? I’ll cover this in-depth a little further on, but just expect to get wild while you are here.
Yeah, that’s about it.
Montañita makes a great home base due to its ease for tourists. It’s got restaurants, cheap food stalls, grocery stores, pharmacies, ATMs, and everything you really need within 5 minutes from your doorstep.
However, you can make some amazing day trips from Montañita.
Puerto Lopez is a quieter beach town about an hour north from Montañita. It is more laid-back than Montañita and it lacks the party scene that attracts travelers to Montañita. However, it is a perfect spot to have a meal on the beach, catch a stunning sunset, and maybe pass around a joint as the waves lap at your feet.
Isla de la Plata
Sometimes known as the Poor Man’s Galapagos, Isla de la Plata is an amazing way to get a taste of what the Galapagos has to offer without shelling out too much cash. A day trip from Puerto Lopez or Montanita will take you to an island filled with wildlife and beauty. The tours to Isla de la Plata usually include a guided hike through the beautiful island followed by snorkeling with some of the diverse marine life underwater. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some whales on the way to the island.
Machalila National Park
Just a little bit further north from Puerto Lopez is Parque Nacional Machalilla. This stunning area is home to some beautiful beaches and diverse wildlife, mostly birds and lizards. It is one of the best places to take a quick hike along the coast followed by some relaxation at the pristine Playa de los Frailes.
For an alternative surf scene, Olón is the small village just a little further north of Montañita. You can actually walk there in about half an hour from Montañita along the beach and along the main road. It’s a good spot if you just need some new scenery after a few days in Montañita’s beach.
Montañita, Ecuador Nightlife Guide
So I covered this super in-depth in my other blog post about Montañita so check that out if you need a day-by-day play-by-play on how to get sautéd in Montañita.
Montañita is a crazy town. Like ridiculous levels of crazy. It is extremely laid-back when it comes to cracking down on anything. People are drinking on the streets, on the beach, partying everywhere they want. Joints are getting passed around on the dance floor. People are cutting cocaine on the bar tables. In all of my experiences partying all over the world, Montañita has been one of the wildest. And unexpectedly so. I heard it was the best place to party in Ecuador. But who really thinks of Ecuador as a party capital of the world?
One thing’s for sure. I do, now. Montañita, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t even remotely ready.
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