Montañita, Ecuador Travel Guide
Oo, oo-oo-oo, oo-oo-oo, oo-oo-oo-oo-oo… Don’t worry… Be happy… Visiting Montañita soon? Start humming this little tune to get you in the vibe:
Here’s a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry, be happy.
In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy.
Don’t worry, be happy now.
Party town of Ecuador, Montañita plays host to not only hoardes of fun-seeking backpackers (think PARTY hard, PARTY all night long kind of folks) from around the world, but also bus loads of Ecuadorian families from Guayaquil and elsewhere who can overtake a beach quicker than you can get “oo-oo-oo” out your mouth.
Your are humming in unison right now aren’t you? There is next to nil stress, if having a bad day you can let the fire blowers entertain you (most nights around 8-10 p.m. near Hola Ola restaurant) or wait until the “Magic Brownie” stand sets up shop (near Hotel Montañita). The town is 3 hours by bus from Guayaquil.
Surfers and “jewelry maker” street people types make up the bulk of folks who land here and don’t leave for a month or more (“The landlord say your rent is late… He may have to litigate… Don’t worry, be happy”) giving the town the ambiance of a Bob Marley or Bobby Ferrin concert that never wants to end. And there’s plenty of rasta T-shirts on sale to prove you partook in the festivities.
Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style
Ain’t got no gal to make you smile
Don’t worry, be happy.
‘Cause when you worry your face will frown
And that will bring everybody down
Don’t worry, be happy.
Looking for a party – and finding one – is overly-easy. Head to “Cocktail Avenue” (anyone can point you in the right direction…) after 11 p.m. and walk from bar to bar towards the beach ending at the upscale waterfront dance clubs & bars – Paradise Restaurant & Club with Bamboo Nativa on top. Or simply walk around town.
If you like Rock & Roll music, the Bier House is going to be your thing (view photo). It opens around 9 p.m. and is on Avenida Primera just a block up from the waterfront.
Not the partying type and feeling left out by going to the beach, having a great time, eating a lovely dinner then in bed at your hotel or hostal around 11:00 p.m. or midnight (like most respectable adults such as myself)? No worries (and be happy)!
Just get up early, walk around town and you will get to see much of the action from the night before still hanging on, though folks looking a bit rougher for the wear. Visit one of the bakeries (see below in Cheap Eats) for a coffee and pastry.
Note: The town does get more tranquil during off-season with many clubs/bars closed during the week. Prices below are current as of March, 2012.
Things To Do in Montañita
- Surfing is popular with many shops to rent and take lessons. Towns nearby such as Olon (20 minutes away, good for beginners) and Ayampe (40 minutes by bus, bigger breaks) are good surfing spots as well where many go for the day then head back to town in the evening. More information here: Casa del Sol Surf Camp
- Learn Spanish at Montañita Spanish Language School or Marazul Spanish School. Both have private and group lessons as well as accomodation options.
- Get your thrills in the treetops trying flips instead of the bottom of a beer bottle… (though that can be fun) with Montañita Canopy for ziplining.
- Visit the “other world” (otro mundo in Spanish) below the sea with a scuba diving adventure by Otro Mundo Dive Center.
- Hop on a local bus ($2.50 USD, 1 hour) to Puerto Lopez early in the morning (by 7:00 a.m., tours start 9:30 a.m. daily) and visit Isla de la Plata ($25-30 USD, all day tour, food & drinks included) to snorkel, swim with sea turtles (sometimes), whale watch (June to September) and bird watch. You can organize a trip from Montañita but it will be double the cost. From bus station take a tuk tuk ($1.00 USD) to Turismar on the waterfront (next to Mar Azul Hostal); lowest prices in town and is at the port where boats leave from. Isla Salango Boat Tours
Cheap Monthly Rental Options in Montañita
The town seems to have ‘set a price’ for a bed in a hostal dorm or single room – $15-$20 USD per person. During high-season times (Christmas, New Years, Carnival) you will be lucky to find that price, much less a room. There are a few campgrounds that charge $3-$5 USD per night (near the bridge), but most folks want a bed. Two decent options for monthly rentals are Hostal & Cabanas Joalli and Hosteria Refugio.
Cabanas Joalli is cheaper, with $150 USD per month (one person) rustic cabanas with bath and outdoor private kitchen available (across the bridge in barrio El Tigrillo, up the road about three blocks, can´t miss it). They also have one of the cheapest hostals in town ($5 USD per person) with similar monthly rates. Facing the water head to the left end of town, one block up from the beach… colorful sign “Joalli”. The owner actually replies to emails: joalli2004 (@) yahoo.it.
Hosteria Refugio is much nicer, with lovely palm trees and lots of shade… when it is blistering hot and suffocating in town from all the concrete upon concrete buildings, this is where you want to be. There is a dorm at Hosteria Refugio (rates vary greatly, give discounts for extended stays) and also cheaper private rooms with bath and shared kitchen that go monthly for around $250 USD. It is located across the street from Cabanas Joalli . More information here: Hosteria Refugio.
Both options are great for groups with cabins that can accomodate 6 people or more. Cabanas Joalli usually get the surfer crowd at the cabanas and music-loving hippies at the hostal in town, Hosteria Refugio twenty and thirty-somethings on up with a bit more cash.
Cheap Eats in Montañita
Street food is a way of life here and plentiful. Great place to go after 7 p.m. is on Avenida Primra and Guideo Chiriboga streets (down from Hola Ola towards the water). There is a grill with chicken, beef or sausage served with rice, beans and salad for $2.00 USD and an outdoor rack of skewered lamb shaved thin to wrap in a pita pocket served with lettuce, tomato and extra sauce; for those who hear the word “gyro” and start to drool.
Other cheap eats in addition to the comedor listed below in the restaurant section are $1.50 USD hamburgers, hotdogs and fruit smoothies plus many cerviche stands open in the morning (what Ecuadorians on vacation seem to eat for breakfast!) and afternoon.
There are two bakeries (panaderias in Spanish) in town with cakes, pastries as well as fresh bread and sandwiches (ham/cheese rolls) to go with coffee you will be tempted to buy. The best and biggest is right at the highway on Vicente Roca Fuerte street (open from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.) and the other – El Trigal – is on the same street but a few blocks down towards the waterfront, same opening hours. Both are good spots for an early cheap breakfast.
ATMs & Internet in Montañita
There are two international LINK ATMs in town, one right next to Hotel Montañita on Guido Chiriboga street. The other is just kitty corner at Guido Chiriboga and Segunda Avenida streets. They often run out of cash but are usually only down for a few hours at the most. Banco Bolivariano (at Hotel Montañita) can withdraw up to $1000 USD from a credit or bank debit card.
Internet is available throughout the town in three or four locations and most have working SKYPE and SKYPE headsets.
Name: Residencia Punta Montañita Book Now
Address: Camino al Santuario s/n (no number)
Website: Facebook Page Panoramic views, WiFi, restaurant and swimming pool. Spacious and airy feel, welcome gifts upon arrival.
Name: Hotel Baja Montañita Book Now
Address: Sector La Vía Punta Olón
Website: http://www.bajamontanita.ec/ Buffet breakfast, air conditioning and ceiling fans, lovely pool, steps from the beach.
There are 4-5 hostals on every block, a mind-boggling number to choose from. You´d think the most expensive hostals would be found away from the beach but it is not so. One of the cheapest digs in town – El Centro del Mundo – is right on the waterfront off of Vicente Roca Fuerte street. They have rooms for $8 USD per person.
Look to the right and you see a line of others: Mochica Sumpa ($12 per person, no WiFi); Hostal Alebrijes ($15 USD per person, WiFi, private baths); Ocean View Hotel ($15 per person, no WiFi) and Hostal Las Palmeras ($12 USD per person, no WiFi). Plus a couple more. Take a short walk and take your pick!
Name: Thai & Sushi
Address: Across the street from Hola Ola restaurant
Website: None. Sweet little spot with sushi and thai food, one of the pricer places in town but popular. Located where much of the action is, great for people watching.
Name: Hola Ola
Address: 10 de Agosto and Calle Primera
Website: http://www.holaolacafe.com/ Center of the action location, fire blowers or other street entertainers put on a show right outside many nights, refreshing pool (that no one seems to use but is there if you need it), big screen T.V.s, bar grub (spicey chicken wings, hamburgers, salads, pasta, pizza) plus wraps, pancakes, waffles and seafood. Open 24 hours with the kitchen taking a break from 4 a.m. – 8 a.m.
Note: Another excellent midrange choice is Tiki Limbo with comfy couch seating and superb, huge hamburgers. Hungry for hummus? Head to Tiki Limbo a block from Hola Ola towards the beach on Guido Chiriboga street, open 9 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Name: Comedor Solmar
Address: Vicente Roca Fuerta (main street off highway) and 15 de Mayo
Website: None. Set menu with soup, main course and drink for only $1.50 USD served from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more cheap eats read the section above.
Don’t need a map in Montañita, you´ll find your way… Don’t Worry Be Happy!
Photographs by Molly & Blake McHugh, all rights reserved.