Visitors to Ecuador will be impressed by Ecuador's pristine, undeveloped beaches. Although right on the equator, the Humboldt current keeps temperatures in the F70s and F80s throughout most of the year. With the exception of Montaita, and possibly Canoa, there isn't much to do here during the day but rest and swim. Come nightfall, however, dance clubs and loud music will usually rock even the most isolated of the beaches.
Atacames (Province of Esmeraldas)
Because of its proximity to the capital city of Quito (4 hours by car and 5-6 hours by bus), Atacames is a popular tourist destination for long weekend holidays. It is relatively undeveloped, which makes it one of the most economical vacation spots in the country. Rooms in low-scale hotels or hostels can be as low as $5-10 U.S. dollars a night, and a typical meal of shrimp or fish will set a person back no more than $6-8 U.S. dollars. Reservations should be made ahead of time during the high season, and especially before a holiday such as Semana Santa (the week before Easter Sunday), Carnaval (February), New Years Eve and early November.
Muisne (Province of Esmeraldas)
About 30 minutes south of Atacames is the island of Muisne. It is a short, 5-minute journey in canoe to get to the island from the mainland, but because of its fairly isolated location, it is virtually untouched by the throngs of tourists that visit the more popular beaches in Esmeraldas. The sand on Muisne is delicate and fine, the beaches free of litter, and the ocean crystal clear in some spots. Palm trees line the beach and sand crabs saunter next to sunbathers. It is the closest one can get to a remote desert island in Ecuador.
Salinas (Province of Guayas)
Two hours from the busy port city of Guayaquil, Salinas is one of the most upscale beaches in the country, with many high-end resorts and five-star hotels towering along the shore. Tourists will find that many of the hotels have cable TV and air-conditioning. A fashionable town, Salinas also has a casino and yacht club, as well as fine dance clubs and restaurants. In addition to offering pricier options for Ecuador's middle-to-high class, Salinas is known around South America for its annual international deep-sea fishing competitions. The Miami-style beachfront properties in Salinas are perfect for those who want a highly-developed resort area that still offers local charm.
Canoa (Province of Manab)
This picturesque, sleepy fishing town is ideal for a relaxing getaway. Although popular with foreigners, it is not as crowded as some of the more well-known beaches in Ecuador. The beach is long and wide, and often empty, stretching on for miles. While not the premier place for surfers, the waves at Canoa are tame enough for beginners to practice on. Windsurfers and hang-gliders often congregate here, also.
Montaita (Province of Guayas)
With the best waves in Ecuador, Montaita is the place for surfers. Waves can get up to three meters high, and international surfing competitions, often in February, are quickly becoming internationally known. In recent years Montaita has enjoyed a boom in popularity, and is a hangout for both young Ecuadorians and the backpacker crowd. There are still quiet places along the beach where one can sit and relax, but the night life is loud and noisy.