1. EXPERIENCE THE BEST NIGHTLIFE IN THE WHOLE OF ECUADOR
Whilst this list is in no particular order, experiencing the nightlife has to be the number one thing to do in Montanita.
It’s where locals come to let off steam from the week, and backpackers come to let off steam from, well travelling I guess, and boy does the mix leads to a great party.
There’s never a dull moment to be had, with Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays all being popular nights and top DJs playing music into the early hours at Lost Beach Club to karaoke at Cana Grill. You won’t find it hard to party here, you’ll find it hard not to.
We’ve covered some of our favourite nightlife spots in our Montanita guide.
2. LEARN SPANISH BY THE SEA
Our favourite place to learn Spanish is always by the ocean.
Learning in outdoor spaces with fresh sea air and the beach being a 10-minute walk away certainly beats learning in a stuffy classroom in Quito.
Picking up a bit of Spanish is not only a great tool to aid you on your journey in Ecuador or further into South America but it’s also a great way to connect with local people and learn about different cultures.
If you’re spending a week in Montanita we would highly recommend Montanita Spanish School. Here you’ll find a community of fun dedicated teachers supported by perfect learning conditions.
You can also take Spanish lessons and learn to surf as a package, with mornings spent in the water in Olon and afternoons spent in the classrooms learning. All transport, boards and rash vest are provided. Read our guide here for more on learning Spanish in Montanita.
3. FUEL YOUR BODY WITH GREAT FOOD
Whilst Ecuadorian food is delicious if you know where to look, the country isn’t known as the best cuisine in South America.
However, Montanita may make you change your mind. It has something to offer for everyone, from sweet and savoury, to cheap and expensive. You won’t be at a loss for places to eat here.
If you’re bored of Ecuadorian rice, beans and suspicious meat, here are some of our top picks:
- Pigro for a fantastic Italian
- Papillion for sweet and savory crepes
- The Wave for great coffee
- Juice street (a row of small street vendors) selling smoothies
If you are staying in town for a while then check out the complete list of the best places to eat in Montanita.
4. LEARN TO SURF
Whether you’re an experienced surfer or just starting, Montanita is the perfect place to jump on a board. Sandy bottom beaches with long breaks make this one of the best places in South America to surf.
For beginners, we recommend surfing in Olon which is a beach just north of Montanita, easily accessible by local bus taking 10 minutes. The beach here is quiet and the long whitewash gives you the perfect conditions to learn.
If you’re looking for lessons, many schools offer a variety of packages from week-long courses. Our suggestions are below:
- Learning In Olon: Kings Olon or Escuela de Surf Olon
- Learning In Montanita: Montanita Surf Aloha or Ohana Language School
A 5-day lesson package should cost around $100-$150.
For intermediate and above head to Montanita beach, pick your spot and wait for the best waves. It’s easy to rent boards on the beach which cost around $5-7 per hour.
5. VISIT THE POOR MAN'S GALAPAGOS - ISLA DE PLATA
The island of Isla de Plata, unfortunately, known as ‘the poor man’s Galapagos‘ is the perfect wildlife watching spot for budget travellers.
Don’t let the name put you off though, the island shares much of the same wildlife with the enchanted Galapagos Islands and is still an incredible trip in itself at a fraction of the price.
On a trip to the island, you’ll see the beautiful but clumsy blue-footed boobies and swim with turtles and tropical fish. Best of all, humpback whales migrate through this area during the months June to September, so you’ll most likely see them if visiting at this time of year.
How to visit Isla De Plata
If you’re visiting from Montanita we recommend a tour. The best company we’ve researched is ‘Go Montanita’ .
The tour costs $50 per person. They pick you up in Montanita at 09:00 and provide transport to Puerto Lopez, the boat ride, snorkelling equipment as well as a basic lunch and some snacks. You’ll return to Montanita between 16:00 – 17:00.
The drive to Puerto Lopez takes 1 hour and the boat ride is 90 minutes. There’s a small hike on the island as well as the chance for snorkelling. So be sure to pack suitable shoes as well as a swimming costume.
You can also go whale watching separately for around $20 if that’s what you’d prefer.
If you are travelling through Puerto Lopez and plan to visit the port then we recommend doing the trip from there rather than Montanita just to save time spent on a bus.
If you’re an avid surfer and you haven’t already tried yoga, now is the time.
Yoga is great for increasing flexibility in areas like the shoulders and hips which improves any surfers form – and what better setting to do it in, to the sound of the ocean and watching the sunset over the Pacific.
If you’ve thought about trying yoga before, or even if you haven’t, now is a great time to try something new. And not only is it good for the body it’s also great for the mind.
Head to Yoga Montanita (YMS) where you can try a class for $10 or you can buy a package of 5 for $40. They also have week-long retreats with accommodation, food and surf classes if that’s something you are looking for. Their standard package for the week is $735.
7. SCUBA DIVING
The waters of Ecuador’s coast are rich with wildlife and there are many shops offering diving courses in the town.
And similar to the Galapagos Islands, the wildlife under the sea is just as rare and exciting as above ground. You should be able to see many tropical fish and turtles if you’re lucky.
The conditions are similar to the Galapagos without the strong currents, so it’s a great training spot if you are planning to go on and dive in the Galapagos. Check our guide to diving in the Galapagos here.
There are a few dive shops:
- Otro Mundo
- Go Montanita
- Montanita Surf & Dive.
However, we recommend visiting them to meet the people, view the equipment and ask questions. This is the most important way to feel happy and comfortable before diving.
Open water courses cost around $450. This is higher than in other places around the world but not extortionate. If you want extortionate then do your training on the Galapagos Islands.
It’s also possible to do fun dives as well as more advanced courses. Be sure to ask for prices as well as discounts in-store. Some popular dive sites in the area are; El Pelado, Los Arhorcados and Copei.
That list should keep you going during your stay in Montanita and we’re sure you won’t want to leave with so much on offer.
What are your plans for after Montanita? A trip to the Galapagos Islands is a short way away with flights directly from Guayaquil and if you are worried about the price, don’t worry because it can be done on a budget and we have laid out some great itineraries to try out.