By Mark Bradbury
This is a question some of you may have already asked, or you may have at least been thinking about it. Perhaps you haven’t discovered a special place to celebrate your wedding vows but you want a unique location that will bring great memories for years to come. If that’s the case, then you should be considering the Province of Manabi, Ecuador!
The beaches of Manabi offer so many choices for your special event. There are 350 kilometers of oceanfront beaches. Some of them are easily accessible and are reasonably close to towns and cities along the coast. Some are much more remote and require a hike to access them, but maybe you would love to have a venue that is not so easy to get to and requires a little extra work for a lot more view and location.
You can find just about any kind of terrain and views you could want right here. If it’s flat ground you seek, with easy access to everything but still giving you a spectacular beach to tie the knot, then you will have no problem finding several places to fill your needs. Start in the south at Ayampe, and work your way north all the way to the beaches of Pedernales, Jama, and beyond. There are probably fifty great spots along the way to have your wedding, and they are all accessible from Ecuador’s Highway E15, the Ruta del Spondylus.
But, if you want to try one of those “Extreme Weddings” you’ve heard about, strap on your hiking shoes and head for Machalilla National Park, where you can find seven beaches, one of them with black sand, and lots of secluded, rock-strewn places along the trail. Machalilla is home to Ecuador’s most famous and most beautiful beach, Los Frailes. There is enough right there to satisfy your quota of needs without hiking over the hills along the way to get to one of the more remote locations.
Other great options for a scenic wedding are any of the overlooks scattered above the ocean along the highway. Although you might be limited in the number of guests, the overlooks offer some spectacular backdrops for your event. There is a new one in Salango, a town about ten minutes south of Puerto Lopez, that has a gazebo and some very special scenery. There is another just before you get to Puerto Lopez on the left that is equal in beauty. There is a restaurant there that could help you plan.
San Lorenzo, Liguiqui, Santa Marianita, and La Tiñosa in the Manta area are all great places for a beach wedding. Crucita, San Clemente, and Bahia de Caraquez all offer some stunning locations. Canoa is a special place; it is a great beach town with terrific surfing and beaching, and it has a lot to offer for larger parties. There are plenty of hotels and restaurants there for extended stays, and there is a very nice private resort called Canoa Oasis which is a perfect beach venue.
Canoa Oasis has private grounds that include a large swimming pool, a social area, jungle-like plants and trees, and a gorgeous beach with its own private coconut grove, perfect for photo shoots. They have a single cabin, fully equipped, and two other rooms for guests. It is very intimate for small groups, and very well-maintained at all times.
If you need something bigger, then Canoa Suites, just up the beach, will fit the bill nicely. It is a great hotel with an outdoor restaurant serving tasty food with many options. The grounds are private and only accessible from the beach by a path that leads to the hotel. They come highly recommended!
Still looking? How about a beach wedding in front of El Arco del Amor, the Arch of Love? This incredible rock formation is in front of La Playa Tasaste, just north of the town of Jama. The site is famous for its “love vibe,” and just to the south of the arch is one of Ecuador’s secret beaches, Punta Ballena. It is a very interesting area to explore as well.
So, you like the idea of a wedding in Manabi Province, but would rather be in the mountains, with stunning views of the local scenery, and maybe even some ocean shots in the background? Not a problem! Manabi has some beautiful mountains that zigzag in and out of the province. There are some right along the coast, and there is a ridge that runs the length of the province a little further inland. These mountains will give you and your guests a terrific background for all those photos you will want to take!
Although there are so many incredible places with extraordinary views all over the Province, there are few companies that are offering their services to help people max out their potential. Like most of the tourist features here, we are strongly lacking in the facilitation of making these things happen. There is a tremendous opportunity around every corner, but we need more people to guide us through it all.
It will happen as we continue to emerge from a two-year pandemic, and Manabi Province, because of its leadership and commitment, will be a destination location for a multitude of special events, including weddings! We are seeing some businesses in Manta, and some of the other bigger towns, start to organize events that will turn things around, and we will become the “go to” place on Ecuador’s beautiful Pacific Coast.
But for now, you can have some fun discovering the Province and finding the perfect spot for your wedding. If you already live here then drive (or take a bus adventure) along the Ruta del Spondylus and check out the venues along the way. Besides what I mentioned, there are probably a hundred more that I didn’t mention! Go out and have fun!
If you do not live here but are intrigued by the idea of having your wedding on a beach or on a tropical mountain, then start doing some research on the Province of Manabi. There is a plethora of available information on any “Search” feature, no matter the browser. And if you have not already joined some of the local Facebook groups, you should join a few and ask questions about the area. There are hundreds of expats living in many different communities along the beach, and many of them know about the things their home area has to offer and will help guide you along your path.
I am the Administrator for a Manabi-based Facebook group called Manta and Manabi Expats and Amigos. We are both informative and friendly and will always be available for answering any questions you might have. Please feel free to join our group and ask away! Here’s a link: Manta and Manabi Expats and Amigos | Facebook.
Come to Manabi Province! It’s a special place, and it’s waiting for you!