The Surfing Route
By Juan Francisco Carrasco
Perhaps it is unknown that Ecuador has a surfing route. In this article I will mention where to find the best waves. It took us a long time to discover the best places to surf in Ecuador but after traveling the Ruta del Spondylus many times we finally found them. A dream that I always shared with my dad was to learn how to surf, a dream that we accomplished together a few years ago. My dad and I have been surfing together for almost six years now and I never tire of it. Together we have had various lessons in different places, and with different instructors, always searching for our favorite surf place with the best waves.
Whenever we go surfing in Ecuador we take the Ruta del Spondylus.This route starts in Esmeraldas and ends in Santa Elena passing along a large part of the Ecuadorian Coast and the main beaches of it. We have taken this route several times and stopped in different places. After various efforts to search for our perfect surfing beach we finally found Canoa. This small town located in Manabí province has a very wide beach with excellent waves all year long, and a vibe that will make you enjoy every moment.The first time we went to Canoa we immediately loved it and knew that we would be back again. There we met Kiki, a local surfer that gave us surfing lessons. Kiki is a great instructor who knows many surfing techniques and taught us the different types of waves. We have come back to Canoa many times so Kiki has become a very good friend of ours. You can find Kiki’s surfing school located on Canoa’s main street. And it doesn't matter if you have never surfed because Kiki will show you an amazing experience!
On this surfing route another place that you cannot miss is Ayampe. This town located in Manabí province is a mandatory stop on the route. In Ayampe you will find some of the best surf instructors at the yoga and surf school named, “La Otra Ola”. This surf school has instructors who come and go from many places around the world during the peak surf season. There I have received lessons by instructors from the United States, Argentina and Chile. It is important to know that the beach of Ayampe has lots of rocks and its water is usually cold, so you should be very careful and bring your wetsuit. One interesting fact about Ayampe is that it is the only beach in Ecuador that has a coastal reef. Finally, if you go to Ayampe you should visit the “Islote de los Ahorcados.” This islet is made up of three rock formations that originate from the same base. Long ago pirates were hung up there by the authorities to alert other bandits what would happen to them if they went there. Now you can visit this place and do things such as snorkeling, sport fishing, and whale watching.
Continuing on in our surf journey, we travel to Montañita.This village in the Peninsula of Santa Elena is well known for its surfing community and its bohemian lifestyle. Montañita is considered the Ecuadorian surfing capital and its beaches are used in both national and international surfing competitions. In Montañita you can take very good surfing lessons even for beginners, or simply rent a surfboard and go directly to the waves. I like to surf in Montañita because there is a huge community of great surfers there and I always learn from watching their skills.
Besides surfing, Montañita also has many restaurants, discos and a very active nightlife that you will enjoy. In Montañita surfers have a very special ritual on New Years eve. Many surfers go to the beach to surf the first wave of the year. They do this in hopes for good surfing all year long.
The last stop is in the City of Salinas, also located in the Province of Santa Elena. Here you should visit the beaches of La Chocolatera and Mar Bravo to find the best waves. Both of these beaches have enormous waves, and in my opinion they are some of the biggest ones in Ecuador. These beaches have many rocks and very strong tides so you should be very careful when surfing here. This is the reason why these beaches are only recommended for professional surfers. Even though these beaches are very dangerous I enjoy going there when there is low tide and the sea is calm. I go there because the big waves give me lots of adrenaline and make me feel great. Unlike other beaches, Salinas will offer you all the facilities of a big city, and I admit that after spending many days in small villages, a little more comfort is also great.
The beaches of Ecuador will leave you astonished and no matter if you surf or not, these beaches have lots of other things to offer. My mom and my brother, although they don’t surf, always enjoy our trips and love to travel with us because the beautiful landscapes, climate, ocean, food, and company are more than enough to have a very great time.