People come to Montañita for a few reasons – to surf and to party. What all the travel blogs out there don’t mention, is how to enjoy Montañita when neither of those options tickle your fancy.
There is no denying that Montañita has quite the reputation. Ask any backpacker in the country their thoughts and you will either be met with a look of disdain or excitement.
Every single person we came across to whom we mentioned we were going to Montañita had the same response that went something like this: “Ohhh, Montañita! Are you ready to party, party, yeah?”
I have to admit that after a few responses like that, our future plans to travel to Montañita made me a little weary. I had known that it was known to be more of a party city, but I didn’t want to be forced to be in an environment like that for an entire week.
However, after two weeks in the sleepy fisherman village of Puerto Lopez, I welcomed the idea of a more stimulating environment.
As it turns out, there is more to Montañita than just strong, colorful cocktails and all-night parties – I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it so much!
Sure, if you stay in a noisy hostel in town and only visit the most crowded section of the beach, you might get an awful impression and want to pack your bags after one night.
However, everyone you meet wants a different travel experience – it’s just abut figuring out what experience it is that you want, and that is why I created this guide on how to enjoy the best that Montañita has to offer.
If you’re like me, and don’t want to be forced into a partying environment where no one sleeps, I have a few tips on how to enjoy Montañita without having to experience the aforementioned.
(For those of you who aren’t quite as much of a recluse as myself, I’ve included a couple more lively options where you can choose to immerse yourself into the full Montañita experience.)
Tips On Keeping It Mellow In Montañita
- Visit during the low season (October-January)
- Stay in a hostel or B&B away from the center of town – Hostel Kundalini is a beautiful sanctuary on the beach that’s just far enough from the noise.
- Hang out at the near empty far end of the beach, furthest from the main square.
- Pick and choose when/if you want to party and with whom, and you may just end up staying here for a while.
- Find your center – take a daily yoga class at Hostel Kundalini or Casa del Sol, free of charge if you’re a guest!
Where To Stay
Kundalini Hostel | Perched over the ocean, this luxurious two-story wooden hostel is a popular choice for backpackers craving a little luxury. Just steps from the ocean with their own private beach, Kundalini is the perfect place, close enough to the action, but just far enough to be able to sleep. Each room has a lovely spacious balcony with hammocks and an ocean view. Breakfast is included, beach towels provided.
There is a huge grassy lawn area facing the beach with hammocks, a slack line, and free morning yoga classes three times a week. This place has all the amenities for a reasonable price. $45-55/night for a private double room.
(*This is a great option if you’re lookin’ to catch some Zzz’s)
Iguana Backpackers | A great choice for those that want to be in the middle of it all – and in the middle of the party. Great on-site bar with drink offers, the sort of family dinners all the guests rave about and 150m from the beach.
$8/night for a dorm bed, $25/night for a private double room.
Tip: Any accommodation North of Hostel Kundalini towards the cliffs will be on the “quieter side of town.” There are many hostels and hotels in the downtown area of Montañita, but be warned that the nightclubs will be thumping until 6 am. Yes, 6 am. Even in the low season, from Wednesday-Sunday people coming to Montañita want to party, and the town permits.
If you want to relax and enjoy Montanita the way I did, head into town to shop at the markets, enjoy a cocktail at sunset, have dinner, and walk back down the beach to your hotel away from the craziness.
What To Do
Surfing – For those more experienced in the ocean, the best time to head here to surf is January – April when the biggest swells hit, but be warned that the this also coincides with high season, when the sea is full of surfers all trying to catch their wave, and the town is crawling.
The low season is a great time to learn on the gentle beach break, and to not have to swim though the crowds on the beach.
Yoga – Stay at Hostel Kundalini and enjoy free morning yoga classes 3 x a week. This was a huge selling point for me as I was looking for accommodation. If you’re more of a yogi and less of a party animal, there are a few hotels past Kundalini that also offer free yoga classes if you’re a guest.
Casa Del Sol, a few accommodations past Hostel Kundalini offers free yoga for guests, as well as drop in classes – open to the public for $7/class. These classes are held twice a day, every day of the week.
The Beach – Montañita has a wonderfully clean, yellow sand beach that stretches down the coast for a about a mile. The beach is pretty much divided in two. Closer to town, you’ll find all the deck-chairs, large groups and crowds. However, walk five minutes towards the cliffs and you’ll be able to get a spot all to yourself without crowds or music.
The best part is you are never too far from a someone that can sell you an ice-cold beer and you needn’t even move for food – stay any prolonged period of time and you will have offers for ceviche, churros, hot dogs, and pizza. (There are healthier options for food in town or in the market.)
Where To Eat
Lido: Beachfront bar and grill with nightly live music and a lovely ambiance. This open air restaurant is like an upscale “beach shack” right on the sand. They offer salads, sandwiches, burgers, and a variety of entrees with an Ecuadorian flair. The best part was their flight of house sauces – 8 different homemade (healthy) sauces rangy from spicy to sweet, adding a delicious touch to any dish.
Buena Onda Café: Traveling to Ecuador on a budget, you might find it difficult to find options that don’t involve rice, meat or fried foods. At Buena Onda, or Good Vibes, there’s a huge list of fresh juices, açaí smoothie bowls, great coffee (another tough find), sandwiches and wraps for vegetarians AND non-vegetarians.
Casa Fistook: Fresh and authentic Israeli food. Must try the Shakshuka, a dish made up of meat and tomatoes – amazing and refreshing food. The chili oil, basil, and pesto adds a kick of flavor and makes for a truly delicious meal. A hidden gem right on the outskirts of the main center.
How To Get To Montañita
Guayaquil is the closest hub to fly in and out of offering domestic and international flights. The ride is only 3 hours, with buses leaving or passing through frequently.
If you want to head to the much quieter village of Ayampe (30 minutes, $1.50) or Puerto Lopez to visit Isla de la Plata (1 hour, $3), catch the green bus from the main road. There is a bus station on the main road in Montanita, about 3 blocks away from the beach.
The Traveling Yogi