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Montañita is a small village located on Manglaralto parish along the southern coast of Ecuador.
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Points of Interest in Montanita
Located on Ecuador's "Ruta del Sol" ("Route of the Sun"), recently renamed "Ruta del Spondylus" and part of Manglaralto Parrish in Santa Elena Province. The region is known for its unique combination of small tourist/friendly villages and towns, magnificent unspoiled beaches, world-class surfing and both island and mountain natural reserves. Over the years, a relaxed and multicultural atmosphere has evolved.
A hidden treasure that did not even appear on the maps just a few years ago, the combination of perfect waves, golden sand and tropical vegetation have slowly developed its reputation as a tropical paradise.
Montañita started as a beautiful beach with a few rustic houses of native fishermen and some surfers in tents. Over time it's grown to include vacation homes, hotels, rustic restaurants, bars and open air cafès, created by people seeking to escape the frantic life-style of Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city and main seaport. Montañita has its share of foreigners who fell in love with the place and settled down; including Argentinians, Americans, Australians, Canadians, Germans, Jamaicans, and Russians as well as people from all over Europe. This village's colorful variety of street vendors, artisans, activities and party nightlife provide a multicultural atmosphere that attracts the same variety in its visitors.
The layout town of Montañita is a grid of small streets crowded with shops and restaurants. Most of the east/west roads have beach access. North of Montañita's little town is a small mountain often called the Point that separates its beach from Olon, Montañita's neighboring town. On this small mountain is a beautiful ocean overlook and the beaches of Olon.
Montañita is a popular destination to learn Spanish :
- Mar Azul Spanish school. Located in montañita, this school is the perfect place to study for the discerning traveler. This school, run by an expert experienced teacher taught in Quito, offers private lessons, which is proven to be the best way to learn Spanish quickly. Rather than being taught straight from a book, this school focuses on practicing practical Spanish, depending on the interests of the students. Steps from the beach, 100 feet away from the constant noise and distraction of the town, this is the place to go if you really want to learn the language. Programs include book materials free and variety of options for extra activities - surf, yoga, medical Spanish, volunteer work, etc. The owner, Gaby, is incredibly friendly, and the size of this school makes it extremely accommodating, without many of the policies and rules that make the other schools difficult to deal with.
- Montañita Spanish school. Is located right near the beach and is highly recommended. There is a variety of courses on offer from travellers survival Spanish to intensive Spanish, Medical Spanish (interning at the local hospital), Spanish and Volunteer, Spanish and Surf, and Spanish and Dive.
- Ecuador Spanish Schools. Is the other option.The school is also present in Quito, Manta, Cuenca.
Surf & Bodyboard
From beginners to experienced surfers, Montañita and its surrounding beaches offer an ideal location for surfing and bodyboarding. Many shops in town and on the beach rent out surfboards for about $4 per hour. If you want to catch early waves, some of the shops will rent you a board in the evening and you return in when the shop opens.
There are a choice of beaches, both in and near Montañita:
- The Point known as the End in Montañita is a point break just north (1 km) of the center of Montañita. Waves are fast, strong and some of the more respected waves in Ecuador. If swell of the north, the west hard has the propitious conditions with some or the south and little wind. Waves can reach 3 m with sections of impressive tubes. Appropriate for surfers of intermediate and advanced level. The bottom is rocky but the route ends in sand.
- Between the Point and the center of Montañita, you'll often find fast, beach-break, running waves (both left and right) playing along the sandy bottom. Great for beginners to more experienced surfers, especially when the Point is not working well.
- Ecuadorian Air Force (F.A.E Fuerza Aerea Ecuatoriana). Located 70 km south of Montañita, in Salt mines, this sensible left to nobody swell, is one of the favourites of tablistas Guayaquileños. Special permission is required to enter the beach, because it belongs to the Armed Forces of Ecuador.
- Tunas/Ayampe. Located 25 km north of Montañita, Tunas and Ayampe (3 km apart) both offer powerful and tubular waves almost every day. With lefts and rights, the waves of Tunas and Ayampe are a good option when the water is calm in Montañita, since they always can give a good wave for you to have fun.
Victor Garcia is a local legend in making surf boards. If you are looking to buy a balsa or foam board while in Montanita, or if you want to become an apprentice in learning how to make boards, you can now visit him at his new website at www.vicgarshaper.com where you can find his mobile number. As an alternative, you can ask locals in town or walk through the local neighborhood of Kamala between Montanita and Manglaralto asking where Victor lives.
Montañita has a well-deserved reputation for culinary variety and surprises. From vegetarian pizzas to a delicious spaghetti with shrimps, the lists of restaurants and of special dishes are both long. Like a good coastal pueblito, most restaurants have a fish/seafood menu for reasonable prices. For example, you might find a menu with vegetable soup as the starter, a second course of fish with rice, fried bananas and salad from US$2. Another important point is the fruits. It is practically a religion in Montañita to take a good breakfast with pineapples, bananas, papayas with yogurt and granola here, nutritious food that the restaurants offer from 8h00 to before lunch.
At the most populated streets, there are small stalls during the evenings and the night time selling hamburgers and hotdogs for about $1.5.
Many restaurants are transformed into bars, and many bars soon transform into nightclubs... everything can happen in Montañita. Tourists come to enjoy the beach, but also because they know that the nightlife is spectacular.
- Happy Donkey House / Parrillada Restaurant, Montañita (diagonal the church and opposite the park square), ☎ 042060038. Wonderful restaurant with an odd name. They offer a wide variety of cuisine, the pastas and grills are the most popular. The coffee served is excellent as well. Happy Donkey House has been featured in nationally televised shows which has helped the restaurant gain a lot of recognition.
As far as bars and drinks, Montañita will not disappoint! The delicious mixture of licores with fruit juices results in tempting daikiris. The supply of bars is ample and a large range of styles.
- Karukera Restaurant. Karukera Restaurant Montanita. This is a bar and a good Ecuadorian and French restaurant. The flaming shots are the best here.
- Caña Grill. This bar is half indoor and half outdoor and frequently hosts concerts. The stage faces the outdoor portion, which is completely covered in sand.
- One of the streets leading to the beach is transformed into an open air bar during the afternoon or at latest when the sun goes down. Small stalls offer loud music and cocktails from $2.
- Cafe del Mar (close to the center). Vegetarian restaurant with the most relaxed atmosphere in the village lots of cushions and sofas, books for sale and exchange, low prices for quality homemade healthy food, caters to special diets, oatmeal cookies and brownies, carrot cake.
- Hola Ola, On the main strip, ☎ 042 060 118. Restaurant, bakery, bar, club, Net café, surf shop, etc. Good food and drinks. A huge courtyard sits behind the restaurant with a stage and hosts live bands on the weekends. No cover. $5-20.
- Planeta Tierra (Planet Earth), Montañita (Main street), ☎ 593-97952276. Great restaurant. Sopapilla is the best in town, the owner also owns a hotel in town. Marthita the owners daughter speaks perfect english and is more than happy to show you around.
Local artisans walk around carrying displays of their handmade necklaces, earrings and a variety of other jewelry. Along the streets are tables of vendor selling many interesting and beautiful crafts. Tagua also known as vegetable ivory and seeds native to the area are used to make rings, necklaces and other crafts including figurines of animals.
A few vendors from Otatvalo have tables and a small store with crafts, artwork, bags and clothing found in the mountains. Some of the clothing and bags are made from alpaca.
There a several surf and rental stores available offering everything you need for the beach. On the main street, one of the neatest and exotic things they have are necklaces made out of strings from hemp that hold neat things like shark tooth. These usually sell for about three to four dollars.
Also, if you are in the need for marijuana, you can ask any of the surfers or restaurant owners as they will have some for you. Montanita is the most famous weed smoking beach towns, although the quality is not always good, the amount is a lot. Recently however, because of local tolerance, Montañita is becoming known as South America's Amsterdam. The attention has brought higher qualities of marijuana to the local market.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Montanita on Wikivoyage.