Montanita – gringo surf central

Whilst Puerto Lopez remains remarkably underdeveloped, Montanita has quickly grown into a gringo-infested surfer town. The streets are lined with Western restaurants, serving nearly identical menus of international favourites, whilst the bars pump out pop music 24 hours a day. At the weekends, the locals come to party, but mid-week you’d be hard pressed to find many Ecuadorian faces, even amongst the bar staff. Sure, if you’re looking for somewhere to relax for a few days, it’s a nice enough place, but it’s certainly not what you would call authentic. Still, we were looking for somewhere to chill for a couple of days in relative comfort, so we couldn’t go far wrong here.

After dumping our bags at the hotel (although it had a swimming pool, it looked a little green), we headed out for a breakfast of pancakes. It’s certainly not expensive, but as it’s very Western, you’ll pay more here than in the local restaurants in many other towns.  Despite the dozens of cafes and bars, it’s a tiny town, and apart from surfing, there’s not a whole lot else to do except relax. As the weather was a little on the grey side, we decided against donning a wet suit and instead enjoyed a lazy afternoon wandering along the beach.

The beach

We came across a half built hotel called the Dharma Retreat with a pretty cool looking bar so stopped in for a couple of happy hour cocktails. We got chatting to the barmaid, a Scottish girl called Ashley, would bizarrely knew the owners of the animal refuge where we were going to work, as well as a couple of guys who had created some fantastic wood carvings around the place. A few more drinks later and we were talking life, the universe and everything whilst watching them carve some new wood creations. A bizarre but amusing afternoon.

A little tipsy, we headed back into town to continue the drinking and a few hours later were falling into bed after one too many caipirinhas. Awaking the next morning with sore heads and delicate stomachs, we enjoyed a lazy day at the hotel, watching films, emerging only to top up on food and water before an early night.

Town at night

The next day and we were headed to Quito. Montanita’s probably a riot at weekends and during the peak season, but mid-week in the off season and things are very chilled. Great for a couple of days but it would be easy to get bored here and we were keen to try and fit in the rest of the country before heading to our volunteering.