Tag Archive for: Guayaquil Ecuador

Guayaquil Ecuador: Hotels, Malls and Restaurants Near the Airport

If you’re planning a trip to Guayaquil Ecuador, here’s a handy guide for hotels, malls and restaurants near the Guayaquil International Airport.

In case you missed it, we shared a video on our YouTube channel about our long weekend in Guayaquil. We showed the Sheraton Hotel where we stayed, Mall del Sol where we shopped and ate, and we visited the Guayaquil airport to say goodbye to an old friend.

Several of our viewers asked for more details about our experience in Guayaquil, and especially about the price of Apple products in Think, the Apple Authorized Retailer, so that’s the focus of this article.

Guayaquil Ecuador: The 40,000 Foot OverviewGuayaquil Ecuador

General Information About Guayaquil Ecuador

We had several comments on our video about how developed Guayaquil looked. The part of town where we stayed near the airport and Mall del Sol is very “first world,” but there are large parts of the city that are still very poor and underdeveloped.

Miles of sprawling barrios with cinder block houses line the highway heading west out of town fulfilling the stereotype that many US Americans have about developing nations. However, some parts of Ecuador’s major cities feel just like any other developed city in the US, Canada or Europe.

Guayaquil and Quito (the capital city) are roughly the same size with about 3 million people. Guayaquil is Ecuador’s major economic driver and is home to Ecuador’s largest port.

Tourist Attractions in Guayaquil Ecuador

Guayaquil also has a number of popular tourist attractions, such as the Malecón 2000, Cerro Santa Ana (Santa Ana Hill), Cerro Blanco and Parque Histórico in Samborondón. These areas are well guarded and very safe during the day.

Safety in Guayaquil Ecuador

Guayaquil is also Ecuador’s most dangerous city with a high crime rate compared to other major cities in Ecuador.

Most of Guayaquil’s crime occurs in the lower income areas of town, so if you stay in the more developed areas and don’t walk around the city at night, you’ll minimize your risk.

The two main causes for concern as tourists are pickpockets and taxi drivers. Always keep your possessions secure in locked zippers or safety belts. It’s best to leave your valuables in the hotel safe, but you’ll be fine taking pictures with your phone. Just pay attention to your surroundings.

We recommend using the Uber or Cabify apps to request cabs in Guayaquil, or use the hotel drivers/shuttles. These are much safer options than hailing cabs on the street since there will be a record of the fare.

Unfortunately, whether true or not, Guayaquil taxi drivers have a reputation of driving unsuspecting tourists to a bad part of town, taking all of their belongings, and leaving them to fend for themselves. We have never met anyone who has experienced this, but we regularly get comments on our videos about this type of crime from Ecuadorians who live in Guayaquil so it’s something to keep in mind.

Hotels Near the Guayaquil Airport

There are several hotels near the Guayaquil airport that are also conveniently located to malls and restaurants.

Air Suites Hotel Guayaquil Airport (Low Budget)Air Suites Hotel Guayaquil Airport (Low Budget)

The Air Suites Hotel in Guayaquil is only a few blocks from the airport, it’s very affordable and they accept pets. We’ve stayed their several times and it typically costs about $35/night.

The rooms are small, but very clean and the location is convenient to the airport, but there aren’t many dining options nearby and no one speaks English who works there. They do offer a limited breakfast.

We walked about 8 blocks to Mall del Sol for dinner one evening while it was still light, but we wouldn’t recommend walking there or back after dark. You can take a cab for about $2.

Holiday Inn Hotel Guayaquil Airport Holiday Inn Hotel Guayaquil Airport

We’ve never stayed at the Holiday Inn Guayaquil Airport, but it has been recommended to us by friends and viewers. It’s walking distance from the airport, making it the most convenient. Rooms run $80 to $100/night.

The Sheraton HotelThe Sheraton Hotel

We often stay at the Sheraton Hotel across the street from Mall del Sol when we visit Guayaquil. It’s close to the airport, it has a walking bridge to the mall, and it’s now part of Marriott so we get points that we can use on future trips.

The hotel rooms are extremely luxurious and the hotel itself is very high end. We usually pay $70 to $100/night to sleep in arguably the most comfortable bed we’ve ever had. In Denver, rooms in a comparable hotel would easily be more than $300/night!

The people who work the front desk/check-in counter speak English, but most of the other staff does not. English is spoken by a lot of people in Cuenca, but not in other parts of Ecuador, so it’s a good idea to study your Spanish and bring a translator app with you when you travel throughout Ecuador.

Courtyard by Marriott GuayaquilCourtyard by Marriott Guayaquil

UPDATE: The Courtyard by Marriott Guayaquil by San Marino Mall is no longer in operation, an apparent casualty of the pandemic and quarantine. We’re disappointed to learn that it has closed because it was a really nice hotel in a great location.

None of these hotels offer many food items for speciality diets so you won’t find a lot of vegan or gluten-free options on the menu. They cater to a largely international and wealthy Ecuadorian audience who tends to eat traditional fare.

Malls Near the Guayaquil Ecuador Airport

There are several high-end malls and shopping areas near the Guayaquil Ecuador international airport.

Mall del SolMall del Sol

Our viewers were especially surprised by Mall del Sol. You could drop this mall anywhere in the United States and people wouldn’t know it was from Ecuador. It even has a lot of the same stores and fast food dining options as any mall in the US, including Fossil, Clarks, Forever 21, McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, etc. This mall also has a Sukasa, which is a home store similar to a Crate & Barrel.

Think Authorized Premium Apple ResellerThink Authorized Premium Apple Reseller

We were really impressed with the customer service at Think, an Apple Authorized Premium Reseller and Repair Center. They were very knowledgeable about the products and very eager to help us with my laptop, which had a battery recall.

Below, I’ve included a few photos of the price and specs labels for the iMac and MacBook Pro (as of August 2020). Unlike a true Apple Store back in the US, Think only has a couple of options available in the store with a VERY limited color selection for each type of device.

The prices are also a lot higher. For example, the 21.5 inch 3.0 GHz iMac at Think costs $2,005 while it’s listed for $1,499 on the Apple website. That’s about 50% more. The base 13 inch MacBook Pro model costs $2,364 at Think while it’s listed for $1,299 on the Apple website. That’s almost double the price!

You’ll also notice that the prices are prominently shown with financing, which is extremely common in Ecuador. You can finance EVERYTHING. Even $20 toasters! However, you get a steep discount for paying in cash or charging it to your credit card.

San Marino Mall Guayaquil

San Marino Mall Guayaquil

San Marino Mall is very similar to Mall del Sol, although it feels a bit more compact and crowded. It has many of the same international chain stores that you’ll find in malls throughout Ecuador’s major cities. It also has a nice food court with a Noe Sushi.

Plaza Lagos Town Center in SamborondónPlaza Lagos Town Center in Samborondón

Plaza Lagos Town Center is a high-end outdoor mall in the upscale Samborodón township located about 10 minutes by cab north of the Guayaquil Airport. We’re constantly amazed  by how developed parts of Ecuador are and we like to bust the “3rd world” myth whenever we have the chance.

This outdoor mall is one of the nicest we’ve seen, ANYWHERE! The stores and restaurants are VERY fancy! And expensive! You can expect to pay United States/European prices at this mall, which is a popular place for wealthy Ecuadorians to see and be seen.

Restaurants Near the Guayaquil Ecuador Airport

There are lots of restaurants to choose from near the Guayaquil Ecuador airport, mostly located in or around the three nearby malls.

Restaurants in Mall del Sol Guayaquil Ecuador

Mall del Sol has a big food court with a bunch of typical unhealthy American fast food chains, but we were really surprised at the healthy food options in the mall. The Freshii where we ate for lunch was delicious, and a place called Biscuits by Nané in the same area was equally good.

Both had loads of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and traditional fare that would be considered fast casual like a Chipotle or Tokyo Joe’s in the US. Our lunch at Freshii cost $19.94, which included two entrees and two bottles of water.

Our favorite “treat” place to eat in Ecuador is Noe Sushi. We typically pay $60 to $80 to eat dinner there, depending on how hungry and “thirsty” we are. We often enjoy a carafe of saki, which is $15 for a large. Saki is quite a bit more expensive in Ecuador because it’s imported. A glass of wine costs about $6.

A typical meal like this back in Denver would easily cost over $120.

There are also several restaurants located next to the Sheraton hotel, including a Red Lion.

Restaurants in Mall del Sol Guayaquil Ecuador

Restaurants in Mall del Sol Guayaquil Ecuador Restaurants in Mall del Sol Guayaquil Ecuador

Restaurants in San Marino Mall Guayaquil Ecuador

San Marino Mall has a large food court with a variety of Ecuadorian and traditional fare restaurants. They also have a restaurant called Go Green (there’s also one in the Mall del Sol food court) that is similar to a Chipotle with bowls, burritos and salads.

The San Marino Mall also has a Noe Sushi and several other restaurants located in the area near the mall.

Restaurants in Plaza Lagos Town Center MallRestaurants in Plaza Lagos Town Center Mall

We had a delicious lunch with some Aperol Spritzers at Tinta Café in our Samborondón video. The mall has several high-end restaurants that serve mostly traditional fare: American, Italian, Mexican, etc. They even have a Sweet & Coffee and a wine bar, but they have very few options for special diets. You can expect to pay similar prices as the United States at these stores and restaurants.

Conclusion

If you’re flying into Guayaquil Ecuador and plan to stay overnight or for several days to enjoy the tourist attractions, you’ll find lots of options for nice hotels, malls and restaurants near the Guayaquil airport.

That part of the city is very well developed and mostly safe during the day, but you’ll want to take common sense precautions just like you would in any major city to avoid being the victim of a crime, especially pickpocketing.

The cost of living in Ecuador is low, but the cost of things are high. Restaurants, hotels and public transportation (including taxis) are much more affordable, although there are a few exceptions like Plaza Lagos. However, anything with a plug, especially electronics, are 30-100% more expensive in Ecuador than the United States, and you’ll find a smaller selection with fewer options.

However, if you plan to stay in Ecuador, it’s easier to get things repaired if you buy them here, so you have to weigh the hassle of servicing things against the higher cost of buying them.

Most people don’t realize that Ecuador has a lot of wealthy people and a growing middle class (at least before the pandemic). While a large percentage of the population lives in poverty, it’s not a nation of poor people as the news media portrays it. We really enjoy showing the higher end areas as a contrast to our rural beach town and they also help bust the “3rd world” myth.

Watch Our Video About Guayaquil Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Popular Tourist Attractions in Guayaquil Ecuador

In this video, we walked along the Malecón 2000, visited the famous Iguana Park, and stopped by the Guayaquil 200-Year Independence Day exhibit.

We had Guayaquil built up in our heads to be this dangerous, seedy place akin to Mos Eisley in Star Wars, but it really surprised us!

We LOVED the Malecón 2000 and the Iguana Park, and we felt very safe walking around the city. It certainly was NOT what we expected!

Watch Our Video About Popular Tourist Attractions in Guayaquil Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Upscale Plaza Lagos in Samborondón Ecuador

We spent a nice afternoon at Plaza Lagos in Samborondón Ecuador, which is a really high-end, upscale part of the Guayaquil Metro Area.

Several of our viewers recommended we go check it out and we’re happy we did. We had a nice salad and some Aperol Spritzers at Tinta Café. Unfortunately, all of the public parks and tourist areas like the Historic District and Malecón were still closed so that was it for our tour.

The pandemic state of exception is ending on September 12, 2020, so the government is starting the transition to the next phase of the COVID-19 quarantine. More businesses and public places will be officially open.

In addition, the 14-day air travel quarantine has been lifted as of August 15th. If you arrive at the airport in Quito or Guayaquil with a negative PCR-COVID test that’s less than 10 days old, you can continue on to your final destination without being required to quarantine. However, you must continue to follow the biosafety protocols such as washing your hands frequently, allowing for touchless electronic temperature checks when entering buildings, wearing masks, and social distancing.

And a HUGE congratulations to 110-year-old Julio Cesar Mora Tapia and 104-year-old Waldramina Maclovia Quinteros Reyes who were just named the world’s oldest married couple by Guinness World Records. Someone else holds the record for the longest marriage, but they now hold the record for the oldest married couple.

You can read more about their story here: Ecuadorian Spouses Become The Worlds Oldest Married Couple

If you’re planning a move to Ecuador or another expat destination, we’ve got you covered in our latest blog post – How To Move Abroad: 10 Crucial Steps to Expat in a New Country.

Watch Our Video About Samborondón Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

Get the FREE Live Abroad Checklist

Enter your email address to receive helpful and timely information about living abroad, slow travel, having more freedom, and living life on YOUR terms!

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Guayaquil Ecuador: It’s a Lot Different! (COVID Update Aug 2020)

This was our first time back in Guayaquil since before the pandemic began and it has changed A LOT.

A good friend of ours from Cuenca who has been in lots of our videos is leaving Ecuador so that’s the main reason we went to Guayaquil, but we also needed to get some of our Apple products repaired. There is an Authorized Apple Premium Reseller in Mall del Sol that sells and repairs Apple products so we stayed in the Sheraton hotel across the street from the mall.

Watch Our Video About Guayaquil Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

Get the FREE Live Abroad Checklist

Enter your email address to receive helpful and timely information about living abroad, slow travel, having more freedom, and living life on YOUR terms!

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Emergency Trip to US Consulate in Guayaquil + Our Big Surprise

We had to make an emergency trip to the US Consulate in Guayaquil Ecuador to get my passport renewed for a reason many people don’t know about. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

WE’RE GOING TO INDIA!!!

Amelia is finally letting me tell you because we can’t keep it a secret any longer. Our friends Chinnu and Abin from Namaste India are getting married! Their story is a full blown India Rom Com (Romantic Comedy) that we’ll share on a later date.

Chinnu Abin

We’ve been going to Namaste India since our first week in Cuenca, and we forged a friendship with Chinnu and now Abin, too. We’re VERY honored to be invited and excited to attend their wedding in southern India!

We will also be staying in Amsterdam for a week on the way to India. This will be Amelia’s first time to Europe and my first time to mainland Europe. But before we can go, we have some obstacles to overcome…

See More: Our Trip to India 2019

Yellow Fever Vaccine (Vacuna de Fiebre Amarilla)

The Yellow Fever Vaccine is a requirement to go to India for anyone who has visited or lives in a country that has Yellow Fever, and Ecuador fits that bill. If we show up in India without the vaccine, they’ll quarantine us for 6 days and that’s NOT how we want to spend half our time in india!

Amelia was in charge of the India Visa process, and she thought we needed the vaccine before we could apply for the visa, which isn’t correct. You can apply for the visa without the vaccine, which would have alerted us sooner to the problem with my passport, which I’ll discuss below.

In the states, you generally get vaccines at your doctor’s office, but it’s different here in Ecuador. We emailed our primary care doctor and he directed us to the health ministry office on Doce de Abril near Parque de la Madre.

Centro de Salud Cuenca

We walked down there one afternoon (it’s only about a 10 minute walk from our house) to learn that they only give vaccines in the morning. This was during Carnival so they weren’t giving vaccines again until after the holiday almost a week later.

So the next week, we went back to get our shots but the line was already about 20 people long when we arrived shortly after 8AM and they don’t open until 8:30 AM. We both had other appointments that morning, so we left and came back at 11:30AM only to learn they had already run out of the Yellow Fever vaccine for the day. Apparently, they get a fresh batch every day ?‍♂️

It was Friday, so once again we had to wait until the following week to go back. We got there right at 8AM the following Tuesday and we were already 5th in line, but we managed to get our shots and the Yellow Fever booklet we needed to go to India. And it only took 4 trips! (That’s common here in Ecuador.)

Our shots were totally free. Vaccines are covered by the national healthcare program even if you’re not on the IESS plan.

India Visa & Your REAL Passport Expiration Date

With our Yellow Fever booklet in hand, we went home to fill out the online visa application for India. That’s when I realized we had a problem.

Here’s the second eligibility requirement: Passport should have at least six months validity from the date of arrival in India.

You tell me… Does that mean the passport needs to be at least 6 months old? Or does it mean it needs to have at least 6 months remaining before it expires? Amelia thought the first; I thought the second.

So after filling out the online form, it told me I’m not eligible for a visa because my passport expires within 6 months of our trip.

That means your passport does NOT expire on the expiration date printed on your passport. It actually expires 6 months BEFORE that date.

Ecuador and many other countries have the same rule. You cannot enter their countries with less than 6 months of “validity” left on your passport so keep that in mind. We’re setting calendar reminders for 8 months prior to expiration so this doesn’t happen again.

If I had left Ecuador, they wouldn’t have allowed me to reenter. I would have needed to stay in the US for 2 to 3 weeks waiting for my new passport before returning to Ecuador. Thankfully we avoided that situation.

Emergency Trip to the US Consulate in Guayaquil Ecuador

You can use DHL to ship your passport, application and money to the US Consulate in Guayaquil, but this adds several days and a lot of risk to the passport renewal process. I would NEVER ship my passport and leave myself stranded!

Las Busetas de Operazuay TurOperazuay Tur

So we opted to take a buseta with Operazuaytur from Cuenca to Guayaquil to file the passport renewal paperwork in person. You can only go to the consulate on Tuesday or Wednesday from 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM, so plan accordingly.

Courtyard by Marriott Guayaquil

Rather than take a buseta that leaves Cuenca at 6AM, we went the night before and used some of Amelia’s points to stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Guayaquil. We’ve stayed there before and it was REALLY nice. This Courtyard is as nice as any Marriott back in the states.

Mall San Marino

The Courtyard in Guayaquil is only a couple blocks from Mall San Marino, which has a NOE Sushi Bar with vegan options.

One of the things that continues to surprise us is how similar other countries are to the US. This is one of the nicest malls I’ve ever been in, with many of the same brands you would see in the states. Plus, they have several brands from Europe that we don’t often see in the states.

We’re taught in the states to think that South America and developing countries around the world are still living in the dark ages, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Except for the language being spoken and printed on most (not all) signs, you could plop this mall down in any American city and no one would believe it came from South America.

There was one more difference: it was PACKED with people on a Monday night! The malls are dying in the US mostly thanks to Amazon and online shopping. However, Amazon hasn’t overtaken Ecuador because reliable, affordable shipping options don’t exist here, yet. That means people still do most of their shopping in the real world.

Mall San Marino PeopleSan Marino Mall

NOE Sushi Bar San Marino Guayaquil Ecuador

We’ve eaten at the NOE Sushi Bar in Cuenca and the Quito Airport several times, and it’s delicious! They have two pages of vegetarian sushi options, and all of them can be veganized except the tamago (which is egg).

NOE Sushi MenuNOE Sushi Menu 2

Be sure to tell them you’re vegan: Somos veganos (or soy vegano if you’re alone). And remind them that means no queso, no crema, no juevo, no carne, no pesca. They always bring us a little abreboca (small appetizer) that’s vegan. Some avocado sushi on this occasion. We also ordered the Yasai Maki and the Bonsai Vegetariana, sin crema. Some of it was fried so it wasn’t the healthiest of dinners, but it certainly was DELICIOUS! We’ll have to eat extra clean for several days to make up for it!

NOE Sushi AppetizerNOE Sushi Platter

Renewing My Passport at the US Consulate in Guayaquil Ecuador

Hopefully we don’t get in trouble for showing the US Consulate in Guayaquil Ecuador because they wouldn’t let us film anything. As soon as they saw my camera, they told me to put it away. There were LOTS of people waiting in line, but they lifted the rope for us and let us go straight to the front since we’re American citizens.

All the guards were VERY polite, smiling and happy. We’re so used to the sour attitudes of security guards in the states, it was a pleasant surprise to be treated with respect and kindness.

US Embassy Guayaquil

We had to leave everything at the security entrance except our passport docs. They asked us to turn off our phones and watches, too. Luckily, they let us pass without shutting off my Fitbit because I had no idea how to turn it off. They gave us a number to collect our things on the way out.

After going through the security scanners, we exited the security station and entered the beautifully landscaped consulate grounds. More smiling guards were there to point us in the right direction. Again, lots more people were waiting in the open air to go inside the next building. And again, they pointed to the door and sent us in before everyone else.

Once inside, there was another security scanner with a line of people and they escorted us in front of them. There were 13 windows serving another LONG line of people, but only one window for American citizens. We had our own waiting area with chairs to sit in. There were 3 people in front of us, but it only took about 10 minutes before it was our turn.

I handed my passport, application and passport photo to the agent and he reviewed everything very quickly. He crossed out the TravelingMailbox address I had entered and told us to use our Cuenca address, instead.

Then he said we needed a color copy of my passport details page, which nearly gave me a heart attack. I was afraid we would need to leave the embassy to get a copy made, but if we did that, we wouldn’t be able to get back before 11:30 AM when they close. Then he said there’s a copy machine outside in the courtyard area, so my freakout was short lived.

He also told us to go pay the cashier, who was at window 14 around the corner from the other 13 windows, and bring the receipt back to him with the copy of my passport. The cost was $110 for a passport renewal.

We went outside to a small green kiosk with a man sitting inside who does nothing but make copies. It was $1 for a copy. Then we went back inside, again being escorted through the security line, then escorted in front of the line to pay for our renewal. They gave us two receipts: one for the agent and one that I’ll need in order to pick up my passport in two weeks.

We went back to the original agent and waited behind two people for about 5 minutes. Then he called us up, took my passport, the color copy, the corrected application, and the receipt, and told us to wait a few minutes for the approval process.

About 5 minutes later, he called us back up and gave my old passport back to me, along with a green slip of paper saying my application has been approved and it would be ready in 15 calendar days.

He told us it should only take 8 to 10 business days, though, and he asked if I wanted to DHL it back to Cuenca, but said that would add another 5 to 6 days to the process so I opted to go back to Guayaquil to pick it up. With our trip so close, I will only feel comfortable if they hand it directly to me. UPDATE: It was ready in 7 calendar days, one week from when I dropped it off.

We left that area, walked back through the grounds and into the security entrance building, gathered our things and exited the consulate. A cab was waiting across the street so we hopped in and he drove us back to the Courtyard hotel.

Amelia arranged a late checkout for us so we did some work in the room and then went for lunch at NOE again before heading back to the buseta terminal near the Guayaquil airport.

Operazuay Tur Guayaquil

Overall, our trip to the US Consulate in Guayaquil Ecuador was one of the most pleasant experiences we’ve ever had with our government, and it was in another country! Everyone was super nice and helpful, but most of the guards didn’t speak English so we had to practice our Spanish under stress.

Watch Our Video About the Emergency Trip to US Consulate in Guayaquil

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Enter your email address to receive helpful and timely information about living abroad, slow travel, having more freedom, and living life on YOUR terms!

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Ecuador Beach Vacation

This was our first Ecuador beach vacation and we LOVED IT! We’d heard great things from our friends about Ecuador’s beaches, Montañita and the Bed & Breakfast where we stayed, Villa de Los Sueños. And they were right! It was amazing!

This video covers our trip from Cuenca Ecuador to La Entrada where Villa de Los Sueños is located. La Entrada is about a 20 minute drive north of Montañita Ecuador.

See more from this trip: Ecuador Coast 2018

People & Places (and Animals)

El Cajas National Park

El Cajas National Park is about a 30 minute drive east of Cuenca Ecuador. It’s located in the highlands of Ecuador and looks like it’s from another world.

El Cajas has lots of these perfectly rowed trees. That’s not a genetic mutation; they’ve been planted. We were told that during World War I and before, every tree in Cajas was cut down for timber used to build things, including the war machine.

Over the past 30 years, they’ve been planting trees to regrow the forest that once stood there. It’s kind of a shame that they planted them so geometrically, though. Perhaps a random pattern would be more authentic?

El Cajas has lots of hiking trails and it’s home to the world’s largest hummingbird. That makes this a popular place for hikers and bird watchers. However, the weather is very unpredictable and the trails aren’t clearly marked so plan accordingly. Bring layers of clothes, food, water and a GPS so you can find your way back to your car or the bus stop.

It truly is otherworldly. This looks like it could be a scene from a sci-fi movie. A beautiful mountain lake. We’ve been told you can hike around this one. (see in the image gallery)

See More: Hiking in Upper Cajas National Park – Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 79)

Leaving El Cajas

You may notice the American flag air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror, but that’s not the point of this photo. Just below that are the yellow lines of the road. On the eastern side of Cajas, it’s common to drive down (or up) through the clouds. A few meters before this picture was taken, we were in bright blue, sunny skies. The fog is often so dense on this part of the drive that you can barely see the yellow lines. It’s quite terrifying!

8 Cuenca to La Entrada Cajas7 Cuenca to La Entrada Cajas Clouds

A little further down in altitude is a tropical rainforest. This part of the drive lasts about 20 to 30 minutes with lush green foliage and palm trees often blanketed in a shroud of fog.

The Plains to Guayaquil

Once we left the rainforest, we entered the flat plains on the way to Guayaquil. This isn’t a great picture since we were in a rapidly moving buseta (a small passenger bus operated by Operazuaytur), but these are cacao trees (bushes?). Ecuador is known for its amazing, high quality chocolate and most of Ecuador’s cacao is grown in this region and south of here.

Cacao is a very picky plant and will only grow in very specific conditions near the equator making this area perfect for the beans that will become the magic dark brown elixir to the gods.

9 Cuenca to La Entrada Cacao10 Cuenca to La Entrada Bananas

Ecuador is also a huge exporter of bananas. We used to buy Ecuadorian bananas in Denver. They’re covered with plastic bags to minimize pesticide exposure. Hopefully, they recycle all that plastic.11 Cuenca to La Entrada Toll Booth

There are several toll booths between El Cajas and Guayaquil. A car costs 25 cents if I remember correctly. Commercial vehicles like the buseta that we were in have different rates, apparently based on the number of people since I heard the driver tell the toll booth attendant how many people were onboard.

Guayaquil Ecuador

A long bridge over Río Guayas delivered us into the heart of Guayaquil, Ecuador, just south of the airport and bus terminal. The busetas are run by a private company with their own drop off location near the airport. When we got off the buseta, a line of taxis were waiting to take people to places unknown.

Our plan was to take a taxi to the bus terminal, which was about a 5 minute drive away. However, the taxi driver asked us where we were going and offered to drive us all the way to Montañita, Ecuador for $80. It took us less than 3 hours in a taxi, but the bus ($7/ticket) takes between 4 and 5 hours. My back was already hurting from the buseta ride, so we decided to take him up on it.

Sadly for him, he got a speeding ticket about halfway there. He was going 9 kilometers over the speed limit (that’s about 5 miles/hour). I’m pretty sure a taxi on the highway with two gringos in it had something to do with that ticket….

12 Cuenca to La Entrada Guayaquil13 Cuenca to La Entrada Hand Sculpture

Ecuador has lots of these giant sculptures along the major roads. We’ve noticed more of them in Guayaquil and Quito than in Cuenca, but Cuenca does have a few unique sculptures.

14 Cuenca to La Entrada Street Vendors

Street vendors are also common throughout Ecuador. As soon as the light turns red, people come from out of nowhere selling everything from bottled water and food, to electronics and floor rugs. It’s like IKEA comes to you for 2 minutes, and then disappears into thin air!

Ecuador’s Southern Coast

The first ocean sighting may not look like much, with beachfront shacks galore. But these are actually fishing shacks that are bustling with activity in the mornings. The fishermen go out in their boats at night and return in the morning to sell what they caught.

As vegans, we’re not in support of this activity, but these aren’t giant commercial fishing boats dragging nets behind their boats for miles scraping everything off the seafloor and capturing everything from fish to dolphins, turtles and baby whales. These are tiny fishing boats with one or two guys on them. They’ve been doing this for generations so convincing them to stop won’t be easy. My guess is they’ll be forced to stop in the next 20 years when there are no more fish to be caught and the oceans are dead thanks to the industrial fishing operations.

Please, for your own health and the survival of our oceans, stop buying seafood!

15 Cuenca to La Entrada Fish Shacks16 Cuenca to La Entrada Oil Dock

This is an oil pipeline dock that goes out into the sea. On the other side of the highway is what appeared to be an oil holding station. It wasn’t a refinery; it only had large storage tanks. I’m guessing they pump the oil from the tanks out to oil tankers.

Before the oil bust, oil was one of Ecuador’s main sources of income. Now they have a more balanced portfolio with food and flower exports, some manufacturing, and tourism.

17 Cuenca to La Entrada Horse Pasture

We saw so many different types of terrain and climates on our short 6 hour ride from Cuenca to La Entrada it was sometimes hard to believe. Close your eyes for 5 minutes in a dessert and you might wake up in a rainforest! This picturesque farm looks like it could be a Kentucky horse ranch. On the other side of the highway from this ranch is the ocean and beaches. What a diverse country!

Ecuador Beach Vacation

The tide was out when we arrived for our Ecuador beach vacation, and the rocky oceanfront by Villa de Los Sueños was clearly visible.

Most of the beaches in this area are very wide and sandy, but they’re rocky in front of the B&B. It was only a short 2 minute walk south on the beach to get to the sandy shores where you can swim or boogie board. Surfing is popular in Montañita and Olón a little bit south of La Entrada, but the waves weren’t quite big enough on this stretch of beach.

Ecuador Beach Vacation - Villa de los SueñosEcuador Beach Vacation Villa de Los Sueños Penthouse Room

We rented the penthouse apartment on our Ecuador Beach Vacation, mainly for the kitchen so we could cook our own food, but we were really happy with the larger room size, private hot tub and amazing views of the ocean.

The owners are Shell and Marsha. On our first night there, Shell took us into Olón to buy some vegan staples such as fruits, veggies, rice, pasta and hot sauce. We cooked several meals in our room and had romantic dinners with ocean views and sounds.

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