Where to go

Guayaquil and the coast

Ecuador's thriving port city and Pacific beaches...


Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest and most populated city. Sitting on the Pacific coast, the city is also the main entry point to hundreds of miles of stunning coastline. However, there is more to this area that just beautiful beaches. Humpback whales can be seen breaching spectacularly out of the ocean; all three species of Boobies can be found all on one island; rare coastal cloud forests can be explored...and did we mention the beaches?!

Guayaquil has recently undergone significant regeneration recently. What was once a gritty port town is now a fascinating combination of its old-world origins with gleaming 21st century amenities.

The impressive Malecón 2000 is a joyous 2.5km boardwalk along the Guayas River that features, shops, gardens, fountains, restaurants, bars, museums, and a planetarium; to name just a few of the attractions. Guayaquil is a great base for a new nights before heading to the beach. Why not head out of the city and visit, or even stay, at one the beautiful haciendas and learn (and more importantly TASTE) the art of making Ecuador’s world-famous chocolate!

Some of the best beaches are a couple of hours drive west, to the peninsula and bay of Santa Elena. The most popular spot (with both Ecuadorians and foreigners) is the fancy, if slightly ostentatious, resort town of Salinas. This is a great place to relax on the beach and while away the days in warm sunshine and a cooling sea breeze. It does get popular, but there is a reason why people go!

The town of Playas is even closer to Guayaquil, which can be reached in under than 90 minutes. There is not much to do aside from flop-and-drop, but the proximity to the city and golden beaches make this an attractive option.

For those wanting to combine beach-time with a bit of adventure, it is worth heading a little further north, approx. 3 hours from Guayaquil. Puerto Lopez is the place to go for whale-watching, between June and September, as this is when the male humpbacks are showing off their breaching skills to the females!

There are boat-trips out to Isla de la Plata – an unremarkable rocky island 23 miles offshore, yet with remarkable birdlife. It is the only place on Earth outside of the Galapagos where Blue-footed and Red-footed Boobies can be found together. Certainly worth the trip for anyone not heading off to the Galapagos. A few kilometres further north is the astounding Machalilla National Park, treating visitors to a kaleidoscope of flora and fauna; not to mention some truly picture-postcard beaches, such as the jaw-dropping Playa Los Frailes.

When to go to Cuenca & the south:

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    At a glance...Guayaquil and the coast

  • Size: Guayaquil's metropolitan population: 3 million
  • Location: West coast
  • Recommended time 2 to 4 nights
  • Time to visit: June - November: Dry and overcast
    January - April: Hot with showers
  • Activities City-life, surfing, whale-watching, sunbathing!
  • Further reading...