A backpacker’s guide to visiting Montañita, Ecuador

montanita guide

Montañita was really good to me.

My friends had gone home the week before I arrived and I was only a couple of days into being a solo traveller. I was having ups and downs getting used to being alone but thankfully the gorgeous little surf/ resort town of Montañita was next on the agenda.

I spent days on the beach soaking up the laidback atmosphere, enjoying avocado smash for breakfast and acai bowls in the afternoon. I went on sunset strolls, lounged in hammocks and took surf lessons. In the evenings I drank cheap passionfruit cocktails, played beer pong and nursed my sun-burn.

Montañita reminded me that I loved travel and still loved it, despite doing it alone for the very first time. So here’s everything you need to know to fall in love with this little beach paradise just like I did.

How to get there

guide montanita

The easiest way to get to Montañita is to do the three hour bus journey from Guayaquil.

The bus company is CLP who have offices both in Montañita and in Guayaquil. In Guayaquil, CLP have an office on the ground floor of the massive Bus Terminal Terreste at Guayaquil airport.

However, head up to the second floor and walk to the end of the building to find the CLP counter that deals with the buses to Montañita. Here you can pick up a ticket for $6 USD. No need to book in advance, buses run pretty much every hour on the weekends and every other hour on weekdays (last buses usually leave between 4 and 6pm).

Coming back from Montañita to Guayaquil is equally easy. For the same price, you can buy your ticket from the very central CLP office in Montañita on the main road which is also where you take the bus from.

Where to stay

kamala surf guide montanita

Kamala Surf Hostel, Montañita

I stayed in Kamala Surf which was a perfect fit for me but not suited to everyone. You will spend money at Kamala and it is located a twenty minute walk on the beach from the main town (or a $1.50 USD taxi).

However, the staff, the people and the food here are amazing. I was so comfortable here and made to feel so welcome which I appreciated so much during my first few days of solo travel.

The hostel has a gorgeous bar area that stays open late but not loud enough to keep you awake if you are trying to sleep. There are dorms and private rooms with fans and en-suite bathrooms. There is a large pool and plenty of comfy places to lounge with direct access to a very quiet part of the beach. You can also organise surf lessons and get massages here if that tickles your fancy.

Perhaps best of all is that there are two cheeky donkeys who live here that became a particular highlight of my trip. Note: there is no kitchen to cook and you have your own tab – so yeah, you will spend money!

Other popular picks for backpackers:

Kiwi Hostel: Kiwi is a well known brand throughout Ecuador and Colombia and seems to be a first choice for backpackers. The general consensus of the hostel in Montañita is that it is large, clean, central and quiet with its own well-equipped kitchen for guest use. 

Iguana Backpackers Hostel: I met a lot of people at my next stop, Cuenca, who had stayed at Iguana. It seems to be a small and basic hostel but a great place to meet people and very, very cheap. It is also located very centrally in the town.

What to do

guide montanita

If you are looking to simply relax, Montañita can offer that to you. Its huge sandy beach never felt over-crowded despite it being a popular destination for Ecuadorians and backpackers alike and the views at sunset were particularly spectacular.

You can rent a set of lounge chairs on the beach for about $5 USD for the day and also enjoy a variety of delicious food sold by beach sellers. We’re talking everything from empanadas and churros to hot-dogs and fruit.

If you are an activity person, you can rent surfboards really easily on the beach for just a few dollars. Other activities you can do include renting a sand buggy on the beach or paragliding over the sea.

Make sure you take the time to stroll around the charming town centre and enjoy the enticing markets and shops.

Where to eat

montanita guide

Acai Bowl @ Good Vibes

For a delicious breakfast or sweet treat, head to Good Vibes Cafe. This tiny central cafe offers smoothies and snacks but its real draw is the stunning acai bowls. Worth a visit for the Instagram alone, these delicious bowls of goodness are not only healthy but really filling and nutritious at only $6 USD a pop.

A popular food destination for backpackers is the always busy Shakshura, a cheap Israeli restaurant offering non-greasy meals at bargain prices. Meals come with bread and a side salad so are great to fill you up.

If you need a place to work or do travel plans, Dharma Beach Hotel has a great little restaurant overlooking the sea with Turkish flair. Simply enjoy a cooling juice or ice coffee or go all out with a kebab or plate of hummus, this is a great little find with pretty views out onto the beach.

guide montanita

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