Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Travel Tuesday: Ecuador's Hippie Surf Retreat, Montanitas

From Cuenca we headed West to Montanita, a Surfer’s Paradise on the coast. To get there from Cuenca we had to get a bus to Guayaquil, then another bus to Montanita. Half way to the coast Nick realised that his beloved football team were playing that afternoon, and with Guayaquil being a major city he could probably catch it here. Not being a football fanatic, I decided to carry on to the tiny town and hopefully catch some rays and find a hostel for us as we had decided to turn up and see what happened.

The journey took a lot longer than expected, we spent a long time driving along the coast. Every so often the bus would come to a stand still at minute coastal villages with lots of half finished buildings that people had moved themselves into, I couldn’t help but hope that this wasn’t going to be my destination as I didn’t feel too comfortable wandering around places on my own yet. The bus would normally just pick up a couple more people and along we’d go.

Eventually, there were signs for cabins and night clubs, surf schools and restaurants, so I knew we’d arrived. The bus pulled up at the side of the road and left everyone to get off. There were lots of hostel owners waiting there, swooping in on bewildered looking foreigners (like myself). I decided to wait until everyone had gone before I got my sense of direction. The heat was stifling, I hadn’t experienced anything like it since Chile, and it made the bag on my back feel a lot heavier, therefore I decided to go for the first sign I saw.

Luckily this sign was for Nativa Bambu Ecolodge. A newly developed set of bamboo cabins, set on the hill side overlooking the town. Each little cabin had an ensuite bathroom, a cosy bedroom and a porch with a hammock. It was a little over our budget at almost $50 a night, but it was so nice, and I was so hot that I couldn’t resist it. I’m so happy that we didn’t as it was one of my favourite places that we stayed. The cabin and location was beautiful, the manager was falling over himself to help us, the breakfast was great and it was nice to get a little peace, away from the busy town.
Ecuador, Montantita
Ecuador, Montantita
Ecuador, Montantita
When Nick’s bus pulled in a few hours later the sun had set and the town seemed to come to life. We’d found out that our lovely friend, Vera, was also in town so we arranged to meet her for a drink or two and catch up on what we had seen and done since we last saw each other.

One of my favourite things about Montanita was the cocktail alley. A short road lined with lots of bamboo huts, all serving cocktails which the guys would mix for you as soon as you ordered. We managed to have a couple of these before feeling so drowsy that we had to start the long trek back up the hill to our cabin.

The next day we spent at the beach, and after Huanchaco, Nick felt brave enough to try out the surf too. Although he did admit that the waves were a little big for him too. I really liked it on our beach trips when people walked up and down the beach with interesting things they’d trying to sell. The best on this beach were mojitos made to order out of a little polystyrene box and brownies. Yum!
Montanita at night is really pretty and lots of fun, with lots of shops, restaurants, street performers and clubs. It seems to be a magnet for travellers, so isn’t really an ‘authentic’ experience, but is a great place to surf, wear too much shell jewellery and walk around with no shoes for a few days.

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