Guayaquil and the South Pacific Coast
Guayaquil is the commercial heart of Ecuador and also the country’s largest city. Boasting a rich collection of museums, historic neighbourhoods and sprawling parks, the city also serves as the gateway to the Galapagos Islands and the little explored Pacific Coast; a long coastline packed with stretches of wild and wide beaches, wildlife reserves, sleepy fisherman villages and verdant mangroves.
The vibrant metropolis of Guayaquil sits on the banks of Guayas River and with its collection of high rise buildings, lively bars and trendy restaurants it’s a modern and bustling city completely contrasting to its counterparts. The charming waterside Malecon 2000 makes for a pleasant stroll along the riverside of Guayas River and is dotted with artisan shops, leafy green parks and sculptures. The unique Simon Bolivar Park is an unusual place to explore, where a statue of Simon Bolivar looms and dozens of iguanas roam freely. Head over to Guayaquil’s oldest and most picturesque neighbourhood Las Peñas and explore the multi-coloured houses, art galleries and get a glimpse into Guayaquil’s past. Climb to the top of Santa Ana Hill and enjoy majestic views of the city.
Located just outside Guayaquil is the Churute Mangroves Ecological Reserve. Home to lush mangroves and tropical dry forest, this ecosystem is teeming with life and widely recognised as a paradise for birding. You canoe through the mangroves and get up close to egrets, herons and ibis or hike along the numerous trails and see a plethora of plant and other wildlife species.
North of Guayaquil is a wonderland of surprises offering sun, sand and warm-water bays. From beach resorts to fishing villages and national parks; this untouched area of Ecuador has plenty on offer. The eco-friendly fishing town of Puerto Lopez is the gateway to Machalilla National Park, an expansive area of small islands, wild sandy beaches and dry tropical forest. Isla Del Plata, is Ecuador’s hidden gem and home to the fearless and curious blue footed boobies, marine iguanas, albatrosses and other wildlife species also found in the Galapagos. Walk along the trails and snorkel in the clear waters home to pristine coral reef and marine life. In the months between June and October, humpback whales congregate around this mini Galapagos and can be seen frolicking in the water. Another attraction is Los Frailes beach, considered as the most beautiful beach in Ecuador due to its turquoise waters, soft white sand, rocky cliffs and wild vegetation backdrop. Further up the coast lays the sleepy town of Puerto Cayo, where boutique beach retreats offer complete tranquillity to unwind after exploring Ecuador.
This diverse pocket of Ecuador is often left forgotten and unexplored but its developing tourist infrastructure and bountiful attractions on offer make it Ecuador’s next best hot spot to watch out for.