Best travel portal on the web featuring best travel sites, travel packages, travel guides, travel tips, weekly travel newsletter, travel webcams, and much more!
June 23, 2010

Home * Travel Deals * Website of the Week

Where's Johnny Jet? * Web Cams * Travel News

Where's William?                                 Montanita, Ecuador



Montaņita, Ecuador
Even Overly-Medicated Urbanites Can Chill Here
By William Darrow

The pristine, untapped beauty of Montaņita is so awe-inspiring, you half want to keep the secret to yourself, lest the big money come spoil the fun. The city feels young and freshly lit – like a hot ember that would surely catch fire with a touch of wind from the right direction. In other words this place is a gem so, if you want to see it before the posh crowd breezes in, you'd best get there soon.

The flight from New York to Guayaquil is surprisingly gentle. At just five hours in the air (and with no time zone changes) you'll arrive quickly and comfortably, particularly if you fly LAN Airlines with its great selection of movies, TV shows, and entirely edible cuisine. Getting from Guayaquil to Montaņita is a little trickier, as it requires a three-hour bus trip through heart-wrenching poverty that – in all seriousness – will make you think deeply about your civic-social duties to the underprivileged peoples of this world. LAN Airlines

The goal in Montaņita, as far as I could tell, is to be as chilled out as possible at all times. From the moment I stepped foot in this dusty, laid-back, surfer town, I felt at ease. With its interesting combination of watermen, fishermen, and meandering beach vendors, the vibe felt akin to a rustic Bob Marley music video.
The average age of travelers in Montaņita hovered around early 20's, which is largely due to the town's popularity amongst South American collegiates on break. While I did see some older folks, they were usually hotel owners, sinewy surfers, or people who crept out of the jungle and were simply passing through. If you aren't seeking the exuberance of youth and its many festive trappings, try the more chic (and expensive) Salinas up north.

Once you've got your sunscreen fully applied,* get ready to enjoy gorgeous sand along a splendid beach break brimming with beautiful people. In addition to its looks, the beach is also remarkable for its attitude. In the U.S. there are serious restrictions on late night beach activities. Not so in Montaņita. People can set up tents on the beach, drink alcohol on the beach (at any time), or even start their own bonfire. While la policia are present, I didn't see them do much of anything, save ride around at top speed on their four-wheelers, spitting instructions into walkie-talkies. In other words, they were A-team in appearance alone.

Do not let the tepid looking waves on the bus ride fool you – in Montaņita there be monsters.** When you can feel a wave shake the ground before you reach the beach, you know you're in for a thrashing. During my week stay I witnessed several waves of the 12-foot variety. Waves so big, in fact, that they are able to host an international surfing competition every January in Montaņita – the peak season in Ecuador. Although the best waves are found at a place they call “the point,” you can find yourself caught in a splendid set damn near anywhere on the mile stretch of beach. And I didn't see a single lifeguard, so if you are going with children, you better bring your own whistle and red shorts. And remember: sideways to avoid a riptide.

Prior to my bus ride to Montaņita, I had the luxury of a night in the Hilton Colon Guayaquil. Since my flight arrived in Guayaquil quite late in the evening, I thought it best to spend at least one night in Ecuador's second-largest city. Although I originally had lofty ambitions for a big night on the town, I was pleasantly surprised to learn I could have that big night from the safety and comfort of my hotel complex. An impressively self-contained unit with great bars, restaurants, a killer pool scene, and a fun (if money-sucking) casino – the Hilton Colon was just the thing for a weary traveler seeking action of the takeout variety. During my tipsy night “out” I ordered several steeply priced drinks at the hotel's Atrium Bar while sitting in my low-perched, swanky lounge chair listening to a band playing tunes of the big band & salsa variety. After a few more drinks in the casino, while watching my friend bleed chips like a shark-bite victim, I called it a night.

As for lodging in Montaņita, I was situated in a rustic hostel called Swisspoint. Owned by a big-hearted Swiss family, it's worth staying at this sweet spot for their free breakfast alone. If you subtract the music,*** it was often the most enjoyable meal of the day. Our server – who arrived at identical intervals throughout the meal like clockwork – would start us off with a delicious watermelon and guava juice that might well have been mixed in a punchbowl of the Gods. Following was a super strong, delicious coffee and a parfait with a golden ratio of fresh fruit, granola, and yogurt. The heart of the meal included a small salad, a side of potatoes, and a main course, which varied each day but usually involved a curry sauce.

The accommodations at Swisspoint were spartan but spacious, with a personal bathroom, air conditioning, and a great little patio for rum and cokes – my beverage of choice. Perhaps the best selling point for Swisspoint is its location, which is just outside the center of the town, meaning you don't have to listen to pulsating bass music at 5 in the morning. Hilton Colon Guayaquil


Translating to Hello Wave, Hola Ola is an Israeli joint in the heart of Montaņita that serves up some of the best food in town, including a mean shawarma wrap. You can catch your favorite soccer team**** in the front, or head to the back and chill out by the pool (complete with volleyball net). Get a table by the stage and you might just find yourself attracting amorous glances from the opposite sex. Hola Ola

While I didn't encounter outright racism in Ecuador, I was treated like somebody who could afford a gringo tax. Lattes priced at $2.00 would, with a bit of bill time hocus pocus, come with a dollar surcharge for whipped cream I didn't know I'd ordered. Waters that cost $.35 sober cost $1.35 intoxicated. Cabbies in Guayaquil offer a flat rate, but still can't be trusted. Be sure to suggest a price a few dollars less than what they suggest. And if you don't speak a lick of Spanish, you'll need to be one hell of a charades player to chop off your gringo tax.

Perros felt like a part of the landscape in Ecuador, typically choosing to chill out mere inches from traffic. Their appearances waivered between cuteness to depravity, with some brandishing scars suggesting a life of struggle as opposed to domestication. Be careful doling out too much kindness, as you may find yourself with a friend you can't shake. Roosters are also an omnipresent part of life and can be heard all over the place, even in the town proper, and they start VERY early.

* Sunscreen is an absolute necessity in Ecuador for all you pasty folk. I think I saw approximately five bonafide redheads during my stay, and none of them looked happy. Don't forget the problem spots like feet and ears. Otherwise, you wind up feeling like a claw-boiled lobster.

** It's hard to adequately convey that feeling of dread surfers feels in their bones when staring down a wave that conjures up memories of former thrashings dealt by equally stout aquatic cousins. What I'm trying to say is that these waves aren't for amateurs. Get a lesson or get ready to see your life flash before your eyes.

*** If I had a single bonafide complaint about Montaņita (other than my bouts on the toilet), it would be the music. The theme is an ungodly mix of North and South American pseudo-club rock, which coalesces into a common continental denominator of mediocrity that would take even the most redundant of basic radio rock stations to the crummy cleaners. After hearing the Black Eyed Peas hit “Tonight's Gonna be a Good Night” for the fourth night in a row, you can't help but feel that the song's message is a subliminal slap to the face.

**** Attempting to watch any sport other than soccer in Montaņita is a challenge, so if you want American football, you best get your sports fix via the Internet cafes.

*PLEASE tell us what you think of this week's newsletter!

All information presented here is accurate at the time of publication but prices, dates and other details are all subject to change. Please confirm all information before making any travel arrangements.

All images are the property of Johnny Jet Inc. and cannot be reproduced, in whole or in part, without our express permission. If you would like to reprint an image, please contact us at for image re-use rates.


The Beach


Sunset in Montaņita


Ready to Surf


Monster Waves


Surfing Competition


Pool at Hilton Colon


Swisspoint Hostel


Jungle Behind Hostel


Beach Perro


Join Our Mailing List

Privacy Policy About JohnnyPublicityNewsletter Archive Contact UsSuggestions