Book! Pack! Go Travel! by Robbie Mamo

Ayampe, Ecuador

Ayampe, Ecuador

After 3 days in Canoa and a great weekend of joining in on the local festivities, I was headed to my next stop South on the Pacific coast. A small town called Ayampe which lies about 25 minutes North of the more notable beach town of Montanita.

To get to Ayampe from Canoa you are best off to first take a taxi to Bahia which costs $10. Once in Bahia you then get a bus to Jipejapa which costs $4 and passes through Portoviejo. I left Bahia at 11:10 am and arrived in Jipijapa at 2:45 pm and got right on another bus to Ayampe. This costed $2 and took about an hour and a half.

You have to make sure you pay attention not to miss Ayampe when you are on the bus.  From the road it appears to be nothing more than a police station and a few signs marking its existence at the middle of a bend in the road.  I always play it safe and communicate with the bus driver or others on the bus to get a heads up when we are getting close to a particular town. In most cases throughout my travels people are willing to help see you on your way and don’t mind giving you a heads up when you are close to where you need to go. Once again this town has no bank machine but money is easily had in Montanita a short distance down the coast.

This is how Ayampe looks from the road. Blink and you’ll miss it!

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It took just over 5 hours to make this trip as the buses here are also used as local buses and stop for anyone that is standing or walking down the side of the road whether they want a ride or not. Usually this also involves driving slow through towns and the bus drivers assistant calling out the route at the top of his or her lungs to try and drum up passengers.

Like most countries in Latin America there are also people constantly getting on and off the bus selling anything from food and snacks to stuffed animals and remote controls. I always find it amusing to see what some of these people have for sale and nothing surprises me at this point.

This being said it takes forever to get anywhere in Ecuador. I took countless buses this past trip and Ecuador is by far the slowest country to travel anywhere by bus from my experience.

Hours later and a few buses I finally arrived in Ayampe. This is the most quiet beach town I’ve ever been to! There isn’t even a town centre here and just a few corner stores and a few scattered restaurants are selling things. There are lots of options for places to stay near the beach and cabins are all along the beachfront for rent.

Where to stay…

I got a room at La Buena Vida which is a boutique hotel on the mountainside only a short distance from the beach. My room here was $35 per night which included hot water, AC and the best complimentary breakfast I’ve had in a long time! They also have a full menu offering up other items outside the breakfast hours and the food was always quite good especially in a town that doesn’t offer much in the way of food options.

La Buena Vida

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My room at hotel Beuna Vida and lots of boards to choose from near my private patio.

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Where to eat…

Finding restaurants in Ayampe is a bit of a challenge. The few restaurants that are in operation have inconsistent hours, limited menus and some just weren’t open the days I was there.

Wanting a change from the food at my hotel I ended up walking to the Finca Punta Ayampe Hotel which is an ocean view hotel that lies in the lush hills that lead down to the beach. The lodge grounds were well planted with tropical plants and was surrounded by natural vegetation. There were also many birds and wildlife nearby. It has a rustic feel and has rooms in the main building of the hotel as well as lodge style cabins nestled in the jungle hills.

There was a dining room in the upper loft of the hotel but also a patio to enjoy food and drink. I chose to sit outside and enjoy the view. I had my meal while watching the sunset and listening to the sounds of the jungle while it became dark. I ordered the mahi-mahi dinner and it was excellent. The only other people that I saw at the lodge were guests but the staff were very happy to serve me and didn’t mind that I wasn’t staying there. This is typically an all inclusive stay so sometimes the restaurants at these type of places don’t allow non guests to eat there.

The dining room and lounge area of the hotel.

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My fish dinner came out with rice, beans and coleslaw which is common in these countries.

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Enjoying the view and sunset with a good meal and a cold beer. Life is good!

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The town…

Saying there is a town in Ayampe is a bit of a stretch. They have a few general stores and a few hotels and restaurants that line the beach. Aside from a few more hotels and lodges spread out here and there you won’t find much.

A few photos of the road that runs behind the beach.

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A few hotels and restaurants are on the beach but I didn’t see any action from any of them during the few days I was in the area. The one place had weird hours and another wasn’t open when it should have been according to the sign that was on the door.

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The beach…

Ayampe is one of the emptiest beaches I’ve ever been too and that was no surprise because I think I only saw 10 other people while I stayed here. That was fine with me because that also meant that that the waves would be empty and I would have the break to myself. The beach is a mix of fine sand and small to medium size pebbles.

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The surf…

The swell was small the few days I was there but the waves were clean and fun at most times during the day but in most situations the building high tide was best. I was alone in the water most times I was out and the one occasion when I wasn’t I was trading off waves with the owner of La Buena Vida.

The wetlands…

Behind the beach is a wetland area with an abundance of birds. I would usually take a walk over there and watch them fishing in the marsh. One local species was the size of a heron and could be seen eating fishat most times of the day. There were also pairs of cranes patiently fishing while wading through the water and other small birds in the same area. From the look of it there was more than enough food to go around so all then birds were often in the same area and none seemed to be bothered by this.

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I came to Ayampe for nothing more than a great beach, a chill vibe and surfing on empty waves! This is by far the most quiet place I’ve been to this whole trip.  Despite no options of night life and very little choices for food I would still go back. Having such a nice setting, an amazing beach and uncrowded waves I can see why the owners of my hotel decided to set up shop here.

I met some other travellers that were staying in Montanita and would come to Ayampe to hang out on the beach and surf all day and then go back to Montanita to spend the night and have more options for food, shopping etc. This was a good idea for those who like the tranquility and beaches here but want to be more social.

I was happy chilling out for this part of my trip and after lots of partying in Canoa it was a perfect mix of relaxation, beach and surfing. I don’t know if I could handle being here for a few weeks but if you want to relax and surf then Ayampe is heaven!

Gone on a whim…