Esmeraldas is a culturally rich province at the coast of Ecuador. With it's beautiful sandy beaches and Afro- Ecuadorean culture Esmeraldas allows you a peek at a different kind of Ecuador that you don't want to miss.
Atacames is the party beachtown for Ecuadoreans. During the holidays this small city fills up with young people from Quito and Santa Domingo. You will have a hard time seeing the beach, it will be that full with beachtowels.
Small beach bars fill the boulevard and blast reggae out of their speakers.
Discotecas and salsotecas are the place to be in Atacames. Prepare to dance, drink, party and have a good time!
Even though word is quickly spreading about this lovely beach and surfing spot, Mompiche still remains a quiet fishing village set back from an extensive 3km long beach, lined with palm trees, with few tourists. The sand and sea may not be Carribean white and turquoise but the beach is pristine and scattered with small fishing canoes with a magically relaxed and safe atmosphere.
The coastal road slightly less traveled, takes you away from the crowds of Atacames or Montanita to visit small working fishing communities which even though slightly unfamiliar to tourists, will welcome visitors with open arms and show you around. The description below gives a recommended trip around the small peninsula between Muisne and Atacames stopping at the very special village of Estero de Platano.
Rio Cayapas (also Rio Santiago) gives you access to another relatively unexplored corner of Ecuador, rich in nature and the different cultures of the Afro-Ecuadorians and indigenous Chachi Indians. The suggested trip below gives information on Borbon and Santa Maria, 3 hours up river, but there is a wealth of hidden spots in this area. The communities live off logging, agriculture and fishing here.
Olmedo seems to be a long way from the normal tourist route in Ecuador but is a very accessible and welcoming village of sandy streets, raised planked wonky walkways and stilted wooden huts. It also is a perfect place to visit the local mangroves which, like so many areas of natural beauty and importance, are being sacrificed for large scale industry, in this case shrimp farms. By visiting this area you can become part of the solution.
La Tolita is a small community surrounding a harbour in the riverdelta of Rio Santiago. The habitants of La Tolita make their living by fishing and agriculture and are strongly influenced by the African culture. This is easy to recognize, not only becuase of their appearance, but also by their music, traditional clothing and religion.
The national park Cotocachi-Cayapas is te Chachis, who are trying to preserve their traditional lifestyle and haven’t integrated with the black community.La Tolita has a school and a museum and electicity is available in the village. Up to the moment of writing, running water remains unavailable.