Welcome to doing absolutely nothing. Ayampe is the coastal town I came to to have some rest, to just enjoy the beach and eat. And it didn’t disappoint.
Before you start booking your trip though to this surfer’s paradise, it’s good to know a couple of things. The beach for example can have copious amounts of rock, which doesn’t make it ideal for beachwalking. The further away from the village the better it gets though.
Second important thing is the seasons. This might be the coast, but between May and November it is actually cloudy and it can get a bit rainy as well. Temperatures will still be balmy (20-25 degrees). But only in high season (December-May) the sun is out in full force, surfing conditions are optimal and it gets a bit busier.
If you want to chill along the coast of Ecuador, there are several options. Coming from Guayaquil, Salinas is your first good option, with lots of direct buses. From there you can also connect to Montanita, which is more of a party town. Those buses usually go to Ayampe and Puerto Lopez as well on what is called the Ruta Spondylus.
Puerto Lopez is a chilled fisher’s town, especially popular though during whale-watching season. Further up north, Manta is a bigger city with an airport and great beaches and is a transportation hub. Even further north is surfer town Canoa, which can be reached easily from Manta. Mompiche is much more remote, for if you REALLY want to chill.
Ayampe though gives you the same option, but in a more convenient location. It is very small, perched in between the jungle, the coastal road and the beach. There are maybe two dozen guesthouses and hostals, mainly by expats that wanted to escape the busy life. They vary in quality and comfort level. Then there around five to ten eateries, some of them are closed in low season. Then there is the beach… and that’s about it! There is hardly any partying going on, luxurious it ain’t (all the streets are dirt roads), but people come here for only two things: to relax, and/or to surf.
Food and drinks
Unsurprisingly, options are limited. For coffee and small bites (cakes! cakes!) The Barn is a good but relatively expensive option. When you come from the beach and take the main street, on your right is a new place that’s good as well. Forgot the name, sorry.
Near the main junction is Artesanalo, which has sandwiches, arepa and more. The adjacent food court has burgers, ceviches (fish soups) and more. Along that same road are more options: El Paso, and the food court / mini-market Madre Tierra, with several small food and clothing stalls.
For pizzas you can go to Los Orishas, or PizzArte if it opens again after the 2020 pandemic. At the beachfront is Fish House, which not only specializes in pescados. Their neighbours from Four Star also offer breakfasts and lunches. Almost all of these places double as hostals as well. When you walk around, you will see more hostals who might open for lunch. The Finca Punta Ayampe, set in the jungle, is one of the best and most remote.
Activities / things to do
- beachwalking. You can easily walk for two hours northwards, past the sleepy Las Tunas village, until you literally hit the rocks. The further from Ayampe, the lonelier you are. And the water is always pleasantly warm. Be aware of dangerous undercurrents though
- surfing. The main reason, especially for the younger cooler crowd, to come here. Hostal La Buena Vida is an excellent base for that and is the place where I stayed as well. The owners are an American-Ecuadorian couple, the Keller family, who moved here in 2005. Keith Keller is an avid surfer and also started with Mineral Surfboards. La Buena Vida is also a likely place to find fellow surfers
- jungle walk: you can follow the Rio Ayampe up into the hills. There is an ecological trail, not very well-marked, and you will get wet as you have to walk through water several times probably as well. But within fifteen minutes walking of Ayampe you are in the jungle. If you want to make the most of it, rent a guide
- Parque Macional Machalilla: not in Ayampe, but easy to reach by bus, this one has beaches, dry forest, cloud forest and more. The animal world includes monkeys, lizards and snakes. Great day out! You can get there by bus or taxi from Puerto Lopez
- Isla de La Plata: another one that can more easily be done from Puerto Lopez, but you can also take a bus from Ayampe to Puerto Lopez. After a one hour boat ride you get to the mini-version of the Galapagos islands. There are full-day tours, including hiking and snorkeling
Getting to Ayampe and getting around
- from Guayaquil there are direct but infrequent buses. The option I took was going to Salinas first, which is a transport hub. From there regular buses run along the Ruta Spondylus to Puerto Lopez and beyond
- from Manta are infrequent direct buses as well. Another option is to go to Jipijapa first and switch there ona bus to Puerto Lopez and beyond
- in Ayampe everything is within walking distance. There are 1 or 2 taxis if you need to go to nearby villages
- Weather: as said, low season is cloudy and fresh from end of May until end of November. From December to May the sun is out and it apparently gets hot 🙂
- Safety: beware of undercurrents when swimming in the sea. Protect yourself against the heat in high season. Enjoy the good life!
- Money: take cash with you. If you are lucky you can pay with credit card for your hotel, but all other expenses are in cash only
- more sources: South America Backpacker and Wavecation