THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO MONTANITA: SURFING, SPANISH SCHOOLS AND PARTY

The coastal town of Montanita is hugely popular with backpackers as well as young Ecuadorians who all visit seeking good surf and even better parties. It’s also a great hub for some of the best language schools in the country and the perfect place to learn Spanish – the combination of morning language classes and sunset surf sessions are difficult to tear yourself away from and many travellers find themselves staying for weeks or months rather than days. Montanita has something for everyone though and during the week, the pace slows down and travellers can indulge in massages, practice yoga, or explore some epic wildlife along Ecuador’s coast.

THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN MONTANITA

Montanita is best known for three things: surfing, partying and Spanish schools.

 

We went to experience all three, booked in for two weeks but could have stayed the entire month if we didn’t have other plans.

 

After two weeks of learning Spanish, surfing in the afternoons and partying late in to the night, the town will have you seriously considering extending that flight home, rearranging plans and staying for as long as possible.

 

If you decide to stay to learn Spanish, we’d recommend a minimum of two weeks to get the most out of the school you are in, make friends and soak up the laidback Montanita lifestyle.

 

If you’re not staying for Spanish we’d recommend a 3 to 5 day stay which is perfect for some lazy surf days, late nights and a host of other fun things to do.

1. Surfing in Montanita

Montanita is an ideal spot for surfers at any level. The beaches are long and so are the breaks so you will always be able find a good spot to surf. There’s also a point break further down the beach if you’re more experienced.

 

The water temperature ranges from 20-25 degrees Celsius from October to May, whereas temperatures can drop below 20 between June and September.

 

It’s suitable to surf in board shorts and a rash vest most year-round but if you suffer from the cold, we recommend a 2mm wetsuit.

 

In addition to Montanita beach, there’s the lesser-known town of Olon to the north which also has good waves. Olon is better for beginners as it tends to be quieter and there is more whitewash allowing for better practice.

 

You can get there via the local buses going north through Montanita which cost less than $1. Alternatively, you can take a yellow taxi, there are always some around town, the cost will be between $5-$10 each way.

 

Boards are available to rent on both Montanita and Olon beach with prices starting at around $5 for an hour. You’ll get a better price the longer you rent the board and as always be sure to haggle.

 

Warning – Both beaches can have strong currents so be aware of where you start and make sure you work your way back up the beach now and then. When walking in and out of the sea be sure to shuffle your feet rather than stepping as this disturbs any stingrays which might be in the area rather than stepping on them and giving them a surprise and potentially getting yourself stung. 

2. Nightlife in Montanita

The party never stops in Montanita. You’ll always see someone drinking a beer somewhere.

 

With all the different bar and club nights, you’ll never be at a loss if you fancy some madness. That being said, weekends tend to be more explosive in comparison weekdays.

 

Ecuadorians travel to the surf town most weekends from local cities craving a release. They are incredible people and certainly know how to have a good time, and during the South American holiday months they will flock to this area in numbers seeking huge parties and oh does Montanita deliver.

 

‘Lost Beach Club’ is famous for holding some of the biggest nights in South America let alone Ecuador and has attracted famous DJs for a number of years. The club is well known for electronic music hosting mainly trance, techno and house nights. The club has two levels with the main area open until 4 AM and the sound systems in both rooms are incredible.

 

The art and murals inside the club are extreme to the trippy level which adds to Lost Beach’s character. There’s also a chillout area outside where you can take a break on some bean bags when the legs get heavy.

Entrance costs $20 which is expensive for South America, although if you enter early the ticket costs $10.

 

I personally would only recommend going if there’s a big night on. Otherwise, the lack of crowd and intensity of the sound system can dampen the experience. The 3,000 capacity room can feel a bit empty if there are only 100 people in it.

 

Two other clubs worth checking out are Nativa Bambu Disco Bar and La Cabaña which each have signature nights during the week. The latter is famous for ladies night on Thursdays where girls drink for free.

 

Most nights out will begin on ‘Cocktail Alley’ which is also  known as the strip. You can’t miss it. It’s a row of small vendors all selling incredibly alcoholic cocktails and you’ll see travellers gathering in large groups on small plastic stools in the street. Cocktails range from $2-5. From there, all the clubs mentioned can be found the end of the strip facing onto the beach.

 

If you’re not in the mood for a huge party there’s bar Caña Grill. They have a live band on Monday, Wednesday and Friday which are great fun to watch. There’s also Karaoke on Wednesday for those who love to sing with a prize for the winner.

3. Language Schools in Montanita

If you’re in Latin America for a while we’d highly recommend learning some Spanish, if you don’t already speak it.

 

Not only does learning Spanish help you get by, it’s a great way to expand your horizons, gain a new skill and best of all connect with local people.

 

You can’t imagine how pleased and receptive locals are when you attempt to speak Spanish, no matter how bad it is, and our basic Spanish ability has helped us out countless times.

 

Montanita is a great place to learn Spanish. Not only can you partake in all of the activities above but there’s a fantastic school there called Montanita Spanish School – easy to remember!

 

The teachers are amazing. You won’t speak any English in your lessons which is the best way to learn. It may seem daunting but it’s so important to progress. It’s something I struggle with personally but I always make as much effort as I can. The teachers are mostly young and friendly and you’ll all go partying together midweek, so you build a bond with on a personal level too.

The school’s location is amazing, set up in the hills behind the town with epic views of the beach.

 

Depending on your classroom you’ll be sat outside too which is a refreshing change. Though be sure to remember mosquito repellent. The school offers both one on one and group lessons with groups no larger than six.

 

Secondly, the school offers a variety of packages, the most popular of which is Spanish and surfing. Lessons are normally at Olon and they take you there in a truck with the boards, you’ll also be given a garish orange rash vest. 

 

The school also offers other regular activities such as Yoga, cooking classes and Salsa lessons which can be bought as a bundle or individually. They also organise weekly trips such as whale watching, surfing trips to other beaches and weekend trips to other towns popular towns like Banos.

 

Finally, it’s wildly social. I spent two weeks there and it was incredible. There are party nights out three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

 

Though beware, these can make getting up for classes difficult! There’s a welcome dinner every Monday which everyone is invited to. They have cooking nights at the cabanas and so much more. You’ll make lifelong friends here without a doubt.

 

I can’t recommend learning Spanish here enough and the combination of activities makes the time fly by, you’ll definitely want to stay for more time.

WHERE TO STAY IN MONTANITA

Montanita is a small town so it doesn’t matter where you stay as you’re never far from the beach.

 

If you are planning on learning Spanish at Montanita Spanish school, you can stay at their cabanas. The majority of the students stay here which is great as it becomes a sociable place with classmates chilling by the pool, cooking together or sitting around and having a drink.

The cabanas have a kitchen area, large social area, a pool, jacuzzi and lots of hammocks to rest in. There are dorms and private rooms available. Prices are detailed here.

 

Depending on how long you’re staying you might want to check into an Air BnB if you prefer your own space.

 

Some other top picks include:

 

  • My Little House Surf & Backpacker Hostel – dorms available from $7 with luxury 4-bed dorms starting at $8. A very social hostel with BBQ and games nights on the weekend. They have a BBQ, ping pong / beer pong table, TV and PS3 so you’ll never be short of entertainment.
  • Esperanto B&B Surf & Backpacker Hostel – dorms from $9 and privates from $26. Offering a great buffet breakfast with local fruits and freshly baked bread this is the best place to recover from the night before. With views over the ocean, it’s the ideal place to relax and take in your surroundings.
  • El Cielo – dorms available from $8 and privates from $20. Located away from the main town this is a great place to retreat and wind down from the partying if you’ve gone too hard.

WHERE TO EAT IN MONTANITA

There’s no shortage of places to eat in Montanita and something to suit everyone. For cheap eats, many of the local places offer the menu del dia (menu of the day) for around $5-7 if you’re looking to stick to a budget. 

 

However, like most surf hubs, the town is packed with great restaurants doing their best to fuel surfers with healthy and delicious food. Check out our post on the best places to eat in Montanita where we’ve covered it all from restaurants to cafes to the popular juice street!

 

Our top pick would be Tiki Limbo – a great place to have seafood and also has a cafe next door for a place to get great coffee and desserts.

HOW TO GET TO MONTANITA

Getting to Montanita is easiest from Guayaquil with buses taking approximately 2.5 hours and costing around $7.

 

Buses depart from the ‘Guayaquil Bus Terminal’ which is in the northern part of the city next to the river and close to the airport. The address is Avenue de Las Americas, Guayaquil 090513, Ecuador.

 

Buses are frequent with one every half an hour until 17:30 and then every hour with the last bus at 19:30. However, timetables are not fixed in Ecuador and things change frequently, so make sure you check before.

 

There’s one main street through Montanita which is where you’ll be dropped off, only 4 blocks away from the beach. If you are transiting through Guayaquil with the aim of catching a connecting bus, don’t assume the bus you’re taking to Guayaquil will stop at the main bus terminal.

 

Our top tip is to star all the addresses in Google maps prior to departure if you don’t have internet access to make sure you’re in the right place.

 

If you need to travel to the bus station in Guayaquil be sure to take an uber. It’s not the most pleasant city you’ll visit and locals kept reminding us that it’s the most dangerous place in Ecuador, so keep your wits about you and be safe.

Where to next? If you need help planning out your Ecuador trip then check out our month long itinerary.

 

Heading to the Galapagos Islands? We have everything you need from itineraries to budget breakdowns. 

 

Or if you want more Ecuador guides then head here. 

To see how this fits in to a full Ecuador backpacking itinerary over three weeks, check out the post below: