What to do in Montanita? The charming Montanita is a great wee beach town full of life and delicious Nutella pancakes! It is one of the gateway towns to the ‘Poor Mans Galapagos’, a party hub, surfers “Las Vegas”, and just a great spot to relax! Beware though, while it is possible to stay here on there cheap, this place can dry your wallets right out with its numerous night clubs and fancy restaurants.
What to do in Montanita
Well, not a lot! Montanita is known for it’s beach, surfing, and partying, which is why I wanted to go. However, here are some options for what to do in Montanita.
Surfing – What to do in Montanita
If you are into surfing, or want to learn to surf, then Montanita is a great place! People call this place the surfers’ ‘Las Vegas’. It’s a great place to surf, swim and relax. The beach is no more than a few minutes from pretty much any hostel or hotel. The township is pretty much built right on the beach.
Swim – What to do in Montanita
Montanita has a nice sandy beach, great for sunbathing and swimming. You will always find many people relaxing on the beach throughout the day. However, you cannot do this all day! The tide in Montanita comes in very far, covering pretty much the entire sand beach.
Party – What to do in Montanita
Partying is on top of many people’s ‘what to do in Montanita’ list. It is not known as the surfer’s ‘Las Vegas’ for nothing! The town has a huge love of partying and clubbing. As the sun goes down, cocktail stands emerge from nowhere and line every street! Loud party music can be heard throughout the small town.
Shopping – What to do in Montanita
Montanita has many little stalls/tables on the streets where locals sell mainly Montanita souvenirs! There are also many little boutique shops, selling beach clothes, swimwear and dresses. So shopping lovers can get their fix here too.
Puerto Lopez – What to do in Montanita
Puerto Lopez is a little fishing village north of Montanita. This bus trip costs $2.5 for the 1 hour trip. Head back to the bus stop and cross the road to be on the side with traffic heading north. Wave down a bus and ask if it’s going to Puerto Lopez. My buses were green and another orange. From here you can do walks to beaches such as Playa de los Frailes, there are meant to be Blue Footed Boobies around this beach, but we didn’t see any.
Visit the ‘Poor Mans’ Galapagos’ – What to do in Montanita
In Puerto Lopez you can find the ‘Poor Mans’ Galapagos’ tour, which is meant to have much of the same wild life as in the Galapagos. This was one of our main reasons of going to Montanita for us as our budget would not allow a trip to the actual Galapagos Islands. Unfortunately we were too poor for the’Poor Mans’ Galapagos’! It’s pretty pricey! About $35-50USD for the day trip, depending on your bargaining. We were also no convinced as people who went before us said we should not waste our money on it. I’m sorry that I can’t give you my opinion on the island, but it just did not seem worth it.
However, had it been whale migration time (August-middle October) I would definitely have gone because apparently it’s amazing! The whale watching is what makes the trip. Unfortunately, I went in mid-November and the tour guides said we were very unlikely to see them :(.
If you do want to do this trip, you can find tour guides in Montanita who will charge you $45-50 for the tour (we tried bargaining!). One of them will say they charge you $40, but then you have to pay for your own bus transport which is $5 return. If you go to Puerto Lopez in the morning or stay in Puerto Lopez, you can get the tour for around $35USD. However, hostel prices are expensive in this fishermans town, so you really have to weigh it up!
Tours leave Puerto Lopez at 9am. We took the bus to Puerto Lopez at 7am to give us time to search for a company and hopefully get a bargain. I heard you can get the tour for $25 if you are lucky! We got there at 8am and had a pretty good amount of time to search. But we didn’t find anyone willing to go that low!
They offer many other tours too in Montanita and Puerto Lopez, like snorkelling, kayaking, and cheaper tours where you go to a closer island and see the wildlife from the boat. I wasn’t sold though so kept my money.
The easiest way was to bus from Guayaquil. The bus leaves from the main Guayaquil bus terminal roughly every hour from 5am to 7:30pm, Sunday – Friday. Once at the Guayaquil bus terminal, head straight to the top floor of the bus terminal and find the COOP LIBERDAD PENINSULA office to buy your ticket. There is a Coop Liberdad Peninsula office downstairs, but do not go there. They do not sell tickets to Montanita from there. The tickets should cost $6 USD.
The bus takes about 3hrs and will drop you off on the street, outside a bakery. Take a left towards the beach and you are in the heart of Montanita! From here it will be very easy to find a hostel, hotel, food and the beach of course!
Where to stay in Montanita
Many of the hotels and hostels in the centre of Montanita can be quite expensive, however you can still find a few cheap gems. There are more budget hostels away from this main centre – these hostels are still only 2 minutes walk from the action
Where to find these cheap hostels
Instead of turning left from the main road bus stop (towards the beach), keep walking straight, in the direction your bus is heading (from Guayaquil). Walk over the bridge, and now either keep going straight, or turn either left or right at the bridge and you will find many hostels here.
I turned left after the bridge and stayed at Chichi Babylon which is on HostelWorld here. It was awesome! This hostel is very social and relaxed, with a bar, and potluck BBQs on the weekends if you are keen to join.
Where to eat
Eating will always feature on my ‘what to do in Montanita’ list! You can find cheap menu of day (menu del dia) deals all around here. They are not quite as cheap as Peru, but still decent at about $3.50 USD. This will normally include a fresh juice, soup and a main meal from the menu – normally consisting of some type of meat, rice, and maybe hot chips.
My favourite place was the pizza place on the left hand corner after you cross the bridge away from the town/towards Chichi Babylone. It was $1.50 USD for a huuuge piece and they are delicious!
Another favourite of mine is the pancake and crepe stands! There are savory and sweet options, with of course my favourite, Nutella and banana! These are a bit pricey at around $3 USD but are pretty large so you don’t feel too bad about spending it.
Leave Montanita the same way you came in, taking the same bus company (CLP) back to Guayaquil. From Guayaquil main bus terminal, you can take your bus to Peru, Cuenca, Banos or wherever you would like to go from there. There is a CLP bus station/ticket office on the main road (about 100m from where you were dropped off in Montanita). The buses can get quite full, so you should think about booking your bus ticket a day or so in advance at the office. Otherwise, arrive early on the day. The tickets should cost about $6.50 USD to Guayaquil You can also go the Sanglina way too if you prefer but I do not have information on that.
Did you like Guayaquil? Tell me more! Or if you thought I missed something vital from the ‘what to do in Montanita’ list, please let me know!