A small town with a big reputation
Why Visit Montañita Ecuador
Montañita is a small town with a big reputation. Most young travelers to Ecuador include this coastal hang-out (about three hours from Guayaquil) in their places to visit and experience, and with good reason: it’s got one of the most breathtaking beaches on the west coast of South America, the vibe is chilled and alternative, and the partying is some of the best along the Pacific Coast (and Ecuador for that matter).
The town attracts visitors from all over the world, and a lot of Ecuadorians who want to have a good time, too. Whether you want to learn to surf, hang out at the beach, be a hippie for a day or six, or just have a good time, Montañita should definitely be on your list. Here’s our take on the perennial traveler question…
And, If you’re still not convinced, here’s why Montañita is one of our top destinations.
How to get to Montañita
A popular destination in Ecuador, you’ll find several modes of transport that will get you to Montañita.
Public transport: To get from Quito to Montañita by public transport, you’ll need to first go to the Quitumbe (“Terminal terrestre Quitumbe”) but terminal to get from Quito to Guayaquil. If you’re staying in Quito’s historic center or Mariscal district, Quitumbe is a $10-20 taxi ride (depending on the time of day) or a $0.25 trip on the Trole. However, try to avoid taking the Trole by night and always keep an eye on your possessions when you’re using public transport in and around Quito.
Once in Quitumbe, you’ll find a number of bus companies that depart to Guayaquil. The trip from Quito to Guayaquil takes about 9 hours and costs around $11-$12. Since it may be a long ride, select a bus company that appears to have comfortable seats! Once in Guayaquil, you can take the Coop Libertad Peninsular. This bus will take you to Montañita in about 2 and a half hours for $6.25. You will leave from the Terminal in Guayaquil and arrive in the Terminal in Montañita, Santa Elena.
Wanderbus Ecuador: For a trip as long as the Quito to Montañita route, an excellent alternative to public transportation is the Wanderbus.
A number of our Wanderbus passes take you from Quito to Montañita, stopping at a few must-see destinations like Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, Baños, Riobamba, Cuenca, and Guayaquil. If your travel plans aren’t set in stone, you should seriously consider this option. This way, the long, complicated journey to Montañita will be broken up into more manageable chunks, giving you the chance to see the best of the Ecuadorian Andes and completely skip the inconvenience and discomfort of traveling on regular buses.
From 3500-1800 BCE one of the oldest civilizations in Ecuador lived in what is now modern Montañita. The Valdivia culture that inhabited this area were famous for their beautiful pottery (their signature piece is known as the “Venus” of Valdivia), their handcrafted rafts and sails, and their maritime trade network.
Before Montañita was a tourist center, this small town began as a fishing village, but in the 1960’s it started to attract hippies and surfers alike. Surfers found that the best waves were located here and word began to spread about this wonderful place. This town has slowly grown since then and over the past 2 decades has become world famous for the partying and tourism.
Health and Safety
Before traveling to Ecuador, it is strongly recommended you purchase travel insurance in case of any emergency, including health and loss of possessions. Montañita is safe and fun if you take the right precautions, as you would anywhere you travel. Watch your personal belongings and be careful when in the ocean, the tides can be strong here.
TBH people don’t come here to relax and bird watch. The party scene here is famously big, and along with that, there are alcohol and drugs, so just be aware of the risks associated with each.
In the case of an emergency, you can reach an ambulance by dialing 911, 131 (Red Cross) or 101 (Police).
Hospitals in Baños
There is a small, state-run clinic located very close to Montañita, about 3km away, in Manglaralto. It’s a simple clinic, so your next best bet is to go to Guayaquil for anything serious.
Hospital de Manglaralto
E15, Montañita Tel: +5934 290-1192
Pharmacies in Montañita
A few pharmacies can be found in Montañita. The bigger chains include Fybeca, Sana Sana and Cruz Azul. This link will indicate the pharmacies registered on Google Maps.
ATMs in Montañita
You can take cash out of the ATMs located in Montañita, all with large trusted banks in Ecuador, these are JEP, Banco Bolivariano, Banco Pichincha, and Banco Guayaquil, you can find the locations of each ATM here with Google Maps.
Always try to plan ahead so that you don’t need to visit the ATM very often, increasing chances of being targeted by thieves, and always avoid taking cash out in the evening.
Wifi in Montañita
Wifi can be accessed in almost any restaurant in cafe you come across, so you don’t have to worry about staying in touch.
What to do in Montañita
Because it’s right on the beach, there a zillion fun activities to do in Montañita that you won’t want to miss. Here are a few:
Surf in Montañita
The most popular of these is learning to surf, since this has be the most popular destination for many surfers looking for that perfect thrill. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert surfer there is a community here that can help you with whatever you need.
People watch while relaxing on the beach
Since Montañita attracts such a diverse population you could spend days being entertained by crazy personalities and brave surfers, both beginners and experts, trying to navigate the waves. The beach here is stunning and there are places where you can rent chairs or umbrellas, or have a drink or 3. Remember to bring your sunscreen and bug spray with you!
Outdoor activities and sports
Dive, paraglide, bike, and more, and the tour company, Go Montañita, can help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Go Montañita is one of the oldest, most experienced, and top-rated tour companies in this area, and we trust them with all our adventures.
Take a Spanish Class
Montañita has some of the best Spanish schools in the world, and they’re super reasonably priced. You can learn some Spanish while also learning about Ecuador and immersing yourself in the culture, it’s really the best of both worlds.
Read more here about 6 Awesome Activities to do in Montañita
To escape the party vibes of Montañita beach, head a few hundred metres north to Olón, a sleepy village whose beach has a much cleaner, more laidback feel to it. There are plenty of other fishing villages all around Montañita to explore. Fun though it is, safety is an issue in Montañita. Stay aware of your situation and don’t separate from your group.
Planning your time in Montañita
Planning your time in Montañita depends entirely on what YOU like doing, but we’ve listed some of the highlights. We encourage you to take these and customize your itinerary based on the amount of time you have, personal preferences and your budget.
Where to stay in Montañita
Whether you’re looking for something in a budget or something more luxurious, Montañita has it everything you need for the trip you want. Here are some of our top picks:
Hostels in Montañita
Hidden Hostel – This is the place to go if you are looking for a party, with lots of outdoor area with hammocks.
Selina – This is a nice and beautifully designed hostel on the beach, and it also has a pool.
Esperanto Hostel – A relaxing quiet hostel close to the beach, with a terrace with hammocks that overlooks the beach.
Hotels in Montañita
Casa del Sol – A pretty hotel in town that offers visitors access to many activities, like Spanish lessons, yoga classes, surf lessons and bicycle rental.
Hostal Kundalini – This beautiful hotel is on the beach, it has a big green area and hammocks on the beach.
Balsa Surf Camp – A quirky, family-friendly place where you can enjoy a peaceful holiday while still experiencing the fun of Montañita.
Where to eat in Montañita
Montañita has a wide array of food, including anything you might want for those late night cravings! Here are some of our favorite places:
- Restaurante Tiburón One of the best spots in Montañita with delicious seafood and Thai food.
- Caña Grill A great place if you’re looking for typical food you would get at a grill, the burgers are the most popular.
- Guadalajara Tacos & Grill The best place to find all your favorite Mexican dishes in Ecuador, and they cater to all from vegans to carnivores!
- La Marea A great pizza joint with top ingredients and good service. Has a happy hour, too (well, who doesn’t in Montañita?). They have a branch downtown but also out at La Punta, which is right on the beach.
Nightlife in Montañita
If you want to party, this is the place for you. People from all over the world travel here just to dance all night. Visit Lost Beach Club as one of the top party spots in the world, and for more places check out the Top Ten Places to Party in Montañita. **Remember to bring a copy of your passport with you as a form of ID so you are able to get into clubs.**
When to Visit Montañita
There is really no bad time to visit this unique beach town, just be ready for the heat! The most popular time to visit is between December and February, and by June the party gets a little quieter. If you’re looking for some extra fun, try to come in February for Canaval or for New Years, when it gets really busy.
Average temperatures are around 28C or 80F. The rainy season runs from December to May, and is also the hottest — and sunniest! — time of year. Strange but true. Humidity is also a factor. The sea temperature never drops below 15C and is usually closer to 20C. The rest of the year — May to November — the southern coast of Ecuador can be grey and overcast. It’s never really cold, but certainly cloudy.
Beyond Montañita — Sites to Visit Nearby
While Montañita has a lot to offer, and you may not want to leave, you might want to venture a little further to see what else Ecuador has to offer.
Ayampe – If you’re looking to for a quieter beach, check out these 5 Amazing Beaches in Ecuador that includes Ayampe, which you can easily get to from Montañita and explore this beach if you have some time.
Valdivia – Only 20 minutes south of Montañita you can find the town of Valdivia, named after the ancient civilization that inhabited this region. Here you can walk around the town and you can also find the Museo de Valdivia, which houses the pottery of these people.
Dos Mangas Waterfalls – About a 15-minute taxi ride from Montañita into the forest, you will find the Dos Mangas hiking trail that will take you to a beautiful waterfall. You will see lots of wildlife so be sure to take your camera with you.
Playa Rosada – This beach is a little off the beaten path, which is perfect for people that need a party break. This beach is famous for having a pink tint to it, which makes it a super unique place that you have to see for yourself.
Montañita Packing List
Your packing list may vary depending on the activities you decide to do and on the weather.
Apart from your regular packing items, you should include the following to your packing list:
- Sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunblock)
- Bug spray
- Shorts, light shirts, dresses (for the warm weather)
- Clothes and shoes if you choose to do some outdoor activities
- Your best party clothes (they will get sweaty!)
Optional: GoPro or other waterproof camera to capture your adventures!
Head north on the Wanderbus to the town of Puerto Lopez for a different beach adventure, and then to Quito to experience the mountains. Or if you’re heading south, you can visit Guayaquil or Cuenca to experience some of the southern cities of Ecuador!
Plan your Trip to Montañita with Wanderbus – you won’t regret it! Check out our passes here.