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Road Trip of the Spondylus Route in Ecuador

Tourist Map of the Spondylus Route in Ecuador

The Ecuadorian Coast has two routes that follows the coastline, so while you drive you can enjoy the beach views the whole time. The two routes join, since the Spondylus Route covers almost all the provinces in Ecuador that are considered part of the coast region, from El Oro to Esmeraldas.

The route continues to Colombia in the north and Peru in the south. Part of the route encompasses the The Ruta del sol, Sun route, which is approximately 115 km long. The Ruta del Sol includes the provinces of Santa Elena, and the south of Manabi province. In a nutshell the Ruta del Sol is part of the Spondylus Route.

Keep in mind that the indications on the road refer to the Spondylus Route but not The Ruta del sol.

The best part of the Spondylus route is that it can be done as quickly or slowly as you want. Spend a few days at each destination, or drive the route in two days. If you are in Ecuador for a long time, the route can also be done in sections each weekend.

We drove the Spondylus route ourself but if you do not have access to a car, it is possible to do the trip via bus or taxi. The government has compiled the useful transportation information here.

The Spondylus Route Travel Guide


Other blog: Canton Villamil Beaches of the Province of Guayas, with its wide beaches has the second best climate in the world, enjoy the sun, sea , sand, and the taste of their dishes , currently the hotel infrastructure gives host to several groups of people who visit.

Beaches maintains its customs, and a place not to be missed is the Church of Our Lady of Mercy is the oldest of this canton , and can be visited during the weekends. Get infected with the purity that gives the sea breeze , feel , I live it better. Eat delight that gives you Villamil Playas. One of the longest beaches of Ecuador with 14 Kms . And the second best climate are two of the main attractions of this spa visitors . Its inhabitants are good hosts to welcome tourists , most are engaged in fishing and crafts, its beaches offer space for a tour and find the best place to take a bath , the options are many hotels or centers stay they give the tourists to choose as some are just steps from the beaches.


Mar Bravo

Mar Bravo means “rough sea” in Spanish. As its name suggests, it is a beach with a rough sea! The main thing to enjoy in Mar Bravo is its the strong waves crashing against the sand and the pier.

It is NOT SAFE to go into the water because it has big waves and strong eddies.  

Punta Carnero

Punta Carnero is one of the best beach spots to watch the sunset in all of Ecuador. as well as Mar Bravo. Punta Carnero welcomes many tourists not only because of its beautiful sunsets, but for its natural pods, and surfing activities.

It is NOT SAFE to go into the water for the same reasons as Mar Bravo.



Salinas is located in the peninsula of Santa Elena, as the furtherest point on the peninsula. It is a modern beach town, where the majority of Ecuadorians go during the summer.

Most of the apartments are privately owned by people who live in different cities in the country.If planing to stay for a week or so, it is a great idea to rent an apartment.

The best time to travel to Salinas is during the months of January until Easter, during Ecuadoran summer. It is not our favorite beach town, as it gets to crowded with local tourists and the Ecuadorian coast lines has better beaches to offer.

Playa Rosada

Playa Rosada is a beach with pink sand. This beach stills keep its virgin nature and it is normally not crowded unless you go in high season (January to April). When we were visiting Playa Rosada, we even saw a sea turtle!

Playa Rosada used to be a public beach, but nowadays it is a private property. You can still go in by paying a small fee, approximately $1.00. There is also a small restaurant where you can get something to drink and eat at the beach.

It is really easy to get there, located a 15 minute drive south of the city of Ayangue. For a weekend trip it is a 40 minute bus ride from Montañita and 2 hours from Guayaquil.



Ayangue is a traditional small beach town in Ecuador. The beaches of Ayangue are not only beautiful for their nice sand and waves but also for the typical flavor it is added by its native. Along the beach you will find fishermen’s canoes and hut restaurants with typical coast region food, such as patacon con fried fish and french fries. It is also is a great place to enjoy a cocktail on the beach for less than 5 dollars.

It is close to the “El Pelado Islote,” where you can scuba dive. You can scuba dive classes or schedule a scuba dive trip. This is where we got our PADI diver certificate with Pablo, the owner of Tortuga Divers. For us he is the safest and most professional option.



The city of Montañita is know for its amazing and big waves. Surfers from all over the world come to surf in Montañita. It is also know for its vibrant night life and “hippie” vibes. About 15 km south of Montañita you can also enjoy paragliding.

Montañita is a small town with tons of handcrafting shops and restaurants. The streets are normally crowded by tourists. It is considered a cheap place to party and stay, even though prices are going higher due to the economy of the country and the amount of tourism it receives.

Personality, we do not enjoy Montañita as much, due to its throngs of tourists and the streets often remain unclean, while theft and pickpockets take advantage of the crowded streets.

So, we recommend to stay in Olon, a neighboring town and at night go to Montañita for its party life. You can even walk as it is less than 4km away, sometimes even cheaper to stay in Olon.



The small village of Olon is our favorite spot in the Santa Elena province. We love its clean and tranquil beaches as well as the calm vibes it has compared to its neighbor Montañita. It is so close to Montaña that you could enjoy both scenes.

Parque Nacional Machalilla

Hours: 8AM to 5PM daily

Entrance Fee: It is free you can either walk or drive to the beach.

Playa Los Frailes

Los Frailes beach is located within the National Park Machalilla along the Ecuadorian coast. It is a nice beach that is surrounded with a rocky landscape. At the end of the National Park Machalilla you can enjoy snorkeling.

You can also walk along the path that will take you to the top of the hill to a gazebo with a spectacular view of the entire landscape of beaches, islands and forest to see all the native flora and fauna.


Agua Blanca

It is also part of the Machalilla Nacional Park. They do charge a small entrance free to swim in the sulphur lake, it smells really bad almost as bad as rotten eggs, the good think about the lake is that the underlying mud is really food for the skin due to its sulphur.

Puerto Cayo

Puerto Cayo is located in the south of the Manabi Province. It is a great local beach town to stop and enjoy. The beach is not as good as it used to be due to the construction of new buildings. The sand is more pebbles than actual sand.

However, it is perfect to go to an island located 20 min away and enjoy the Blue-footed booby, or Piqueros patas azules in Spanish, and go snorkeling. The beach in the little island is amazing. You can get a local to take you there in a canoe. They normally charge between 5-15 dollars per person, depending on the season and how many people are going.

Puerto Cayo is also one of the best spots in Ecuador to enjoy whale watching during the months of June to September.



The  city of Manta is located on a beautiful bay. The beach you must visit is the Playa El Murcielago. It is a calm urban beach, with a scenic boardwalk with restaurants, bars, markets and green spaces. There are many different areas of the city that range from entertainment to relaxation.



Canoa has a long coast line for tourists to enjoy. It is a white sand beach surrounded with vegetation and big waves, which make it a big destination for surfers around the world. It is our favorite beach spot in all of Ecuador! As well as in Montañita you can also Paragliding outside the city.

Olmito Hostal is located on the beach and a great place to enjoy some drinks or spend a night. Around the beach there are many beach restaurants with good prices and serving good sized meals.



Pedernales is a small town with a limited, yet growing tourism sector. This means it has miles upon miles of beach with not many people. We found these beautiful and empty beaches to be the perfect place to enjoy the afternoon on your own.


Mompiche is the best beach town to visit in the northern Esmeraldas Province. It has amazing beaches of fine sand and big waves, surrounded by lush tropical forest. The beach town has a great small town charm with only a few main streets. The Royal Decameron is know as the best all inclusive beach resort in Ecuador. 



The large city of Esmeraldas is the last stop along the Spondylus Route. With an average temperature of 82°F every month, there is no wrong time to visit the beaches of Esmeraldas. As the largest city on the route, it has a city feel more than the other small beach towns. There is more hustle and bustle, but still just as many endless beaches.

Tourist Map of the Spondylus Route in Ecuador


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Monday 29th of August 2016

I loved Ecuador. We did not get to do the coast on our recent trip to Ecuador due to El Nino. We did Quito, the Northern Andes and Galapagos. Here's a link for your readers who want to go beyond the coast -


Thursday 28th of April 2016

I had never thought about going to Ecuador for the beach scene. I didn't realize they had so many and that driving between them could be done. Keeping this in mind for when I plan our trip. Thanks for sharing!


Saturday 9th of April 2016

we drove the spondylus coast stopping different places.. for a week, this time will go to Atacames.. I love Ecuador...

Travel To Blank

Saturday 9th of April 2016

That sounds amazing! Please let us know how your Atacames trip goes.


Saturday 9th of April 2016

You forgot about Ayampe, the most beautiful tranquil, safe town on the coast. Not to mention it has the most consistent waves as well.

Travel To Blank

Saturday 9th of April 2016

You are totally right. We must have accidentally skipped over it, but we will definitely add it to the list.

Bob R

Friday 8th of April 2016

I spent about a week in Puerto Lopez, really enjoyed the laid back feel. I should have stayed a month. :)

Travel To Blank

Friday 8th of April 2016

You can always give it another visit!