As far as ocean getaways and beach vibes go, Ecuador goes largely under the radar. When you think of South American beaches, you might think of Colombia’s Caribbean coast and Brazil’s Bacchanalian beach bashes. Ecuador? Probably not so much.
However, you would be surprised to discover that Ecuador’s Pacific coastline is as beautiful and tropical as some of the more popular destinations in Latin America. The best thing about Ecuador is that it offers so many diverse regions in such a small country. You can explore the jungle and then spend a week in the mountains, followed by relaxing along its sunny coastline. That’s exactly what I did, leaving the chilly Cotopaxi and Tungurahua regions to chase the sun in Manabi. The sun eluded me in Montañita but moving further up the coast towards Manta, I found exactly what I was looking for.
Manta is one of the largest towns in Ecuador and one of the most important towns along the Pacific Coast. Ecuador’s coast is littered with small towns and fishing villages, which makes Manta stand out as a popular vacation spot for those looking for something more pampered. Manta was exactly what I needed after my usual lifestyle of roughing it for a few weeks.
What exactly makes Manta so great?
A beautiful city along blue waters where you can treat yourself to the holiday you deserve for a fraction of what it would cost elsewhere? Hmm, you got me.
Whether you are just traveling through or eventually decide to live there (as many unassuming future expats do), Manta has an abundance of perfect locations to stay. Hosted by JAG Branding and Rent In Manta, I spent my time in Manta at a luxury condo resort whose highlight is an infinity pool overlooking the vast ocean. At sunset, there is no view quite like it. I felt like a king without having to break the bank whatsoever. A place like this in Cancun or Costa Rica would charge you just to breathe their air.
It was walking distance from a number of restaurants and nightlife options. My late night walk home from the bustling nightlife district of La Quadra took me less than five minutes. And you’re going to want to go to La Quadra.
Next to relaxing and partying, I spent most of my time in Manta looking forward to my next meal. There are a huge variety of dining options covering a ton of international bases. Through Eat in Manta, I was able to discover a lot of these for myself. Ranging from Western options like a monstrous pizza from a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria to having the local delicacy of tigrillo mixto at Cafe Limon, I was feasting like a mad man.
Other dining highlights included Umiña Sushi, where as a sushi addict, I was surprised to finally find good sushi in Ecuador. I stuffed my face at Mr. Bolón with a hearty bolón, a big, doughy ball of sweet plantain, peanuts, and cheese sitting in a rich peanut sauce and served with tuna. Another favorite was the pegadito at La Tenaza, crab mixed with vegetables and cocolon, a crispy rice. I couldn’t get enough of the food scene in Manta, and perhaps, it’s what I will miss most. The restaurant hopping tours with Eat in Manta were the best part of every day.
The nightlife in Manta is also top notch and definitely provides among the classiest options in all of Ecuador. After some of the other places I’ve went out, Manta made me feel bougie for the first time in forever. People were actually wearing suits and button ups and dresses to go out when I visited La Quadra. Of course, there are places to accommodate whatever style of nightlife you prefer. That’s the beauty of having a big city like Manta. But being as laid-back as it is, it never feels like a big city.
But if it ever does start to feel a bit too busy, it is a close drive to a number of smaller villages if you need a break from the city.
Santa Marianita is a long strip of beach popular among kitesurfers. The beach is lined with bars, ranging from local spots like Don Willy II to Bali-esque bamboo bars like EcuaBlue and Ocean Freaks. Santa Marianita is only about 15 minutes from Manta, giving you yet another beach option while you are around.
San Lorenzo has one of the best viewpoints you can get along the Pacific Coast. Sendero El Faro is an easy little hike up to a lighthouse that gives you panoramic views of the extensive coastline. Towards the south, you’ve got a long strip of beach. To the north, a jagged and rugged coastline highlighted by majestic cliffs with sheer drops.
A lot of the small towns along the coast are easily accessible from Manta, making it a perfect home base for your travels.
And of course, if you’re tired of land, you can always head out into the ocean. Yacht parties, whale watching, deep sea fishing, diving trips, and more. There is plenty to do out in the Pacific Ocean. Life is better on a boat and in Manta, you can be on a boat as often as you’d like.
If you are looking for the perfect holiday in a country that is criminally overlooked, Manta is your spot. Skip your usual played out resort city and see what the incredible country of Ecuador has to offer.