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cities & towns
 MONTANITA
Montanita is Ecuador’s most popular surfing town. When I first came to Ecuador as a backpacker in 1990, there were only two places to stay in the village, meals were what you got, and people didn’t pretend to be surfers. Today, Montanita is transformed. I hardly recognized the place! There are well over two dozen places to stay, swimming pools, pizza joints, granola breakfasts, surfshops, and of course, a bevy of internet cafes. The village has earned its place in the gringo trail hall of fame, though its celebrity now rests more heavily on its chilled-out beach vibe than its original surfer’s paradise status. The best waves are along at La Punta [The Point], about a kilometer [just over a half mile] from the village, where surfers twist like ballet dancers on the crests of two-meter [six-foot], white-topped waves.“

General information. There is a Pacifictel office by the square, and the best Internet cafe is by the Casa Blanca hostal. There are no banks to date, but you can find people to change traveler’s checks.

Places to sleep. Prices vary according to season, and reservations essential for Carnaval time. For most visitors Montanita is a get-it-as-you-see-it place: you get what accommodation you see when you’re here. However, the following will help you decide. Accommodation-wise, the town is split between the establishments at La Punta, and the ones in the town itself.

Places to eat. None of Montanita’s restaurants stand out particularly.

Things to do. Ecuador is a fabulous place to surf, and Montanita is the best,” one surfer told me. “From October to March the water is about 27?C [80?F]. You get one to one-and-a-half meter [four- to five-foot]-waves with a hollow right-hander at low tide and a real workable wall at high. I’ve had a couple of big days at 10 ft [three meters]. Down south at Engabao [south of Salinas] you get real thick hollow beasties.” So now you know. The best surfing runs form December to May, and Montanita’s annual international surfing competition takes place at Carnaval. At this time, the place is rammed and rocks till dawn.

Getting there. Direct buses Guayaquil-Montanita are available with CLP, three times a day at the bus terminal in Guayaquil [5:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.].

|Article contributed by Dominic Hamilton|||
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