Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ecuador coastal drive from Salinas to Manta

After our great vacation in the Galapagos Islands we rented a car in Guayaquil and started our drive up the coast.

We landed at the Guayaquil airport at 3 pm and stopped by the car rental agencies after collecting our luggage. This turned out to be a time consuming affair, we walked by several booths and asked prices. It seems the cost of rental cars in Ecuador is expensive and each booth offered very high prices followed by discounts, put with taxes, insurance and other fees the prices were very high again.
Arriving at the last booth Localiza, we were offered the best deal on a mid-size 4 door Hyundai. Starting with a 35% discount plus all the other fees they added on we ended up paying $450 for a week and we waved the $10 a day insurance. In doing this they took a $1000 off Sue's credit card as a security deposit in case we did have an accident. They also offered us a GPS for $8 a day which I declined. I did not know they worked in Ecuador and I passed mine on to my cousin in California when I moved. We did decide to pay a $54 drop off fee so we could leave the car in Cuenca to avoid another 3 1/2 hour drive over the Caja's and a 4 hour return trip in a express van.
It seems we got the last mid-size car they had and we had to wait for them to clean it up before heading to Salinas.

We finally got out of the airport at 5 pm and started our 2 hour drive to Salinas. I had seen many photos of Salinas which is called the mini Miami and I was looking forward to seeing it.
We arrived in Salinas after dark after a not so nice drive through La Libertad. There was lots of traffic and the city was dusty and uninviting.
When we arrived in Salinas we stopped three girls walking along the beach and asked about a Hotel. They directed us down the street to where they were staying and we got a room for $35 for the night. I was tired from a long day and happy to have a room.

Salinas is a seasonal vacation town with many apartment building lining the streets and most of them empty. I imagine in the season starting in December the town is very full.

After breakfast at one of the oceanfront restaurants we headed north on E-1 towards Manta.

We stopped at MontaƱita which is known as the party town on the coast. There were many Hostel's, bars and restaurants, I could see that it might be lots of fun at night with music coming from all the bars and people having a good time walking about the streets. And again after December I am sure it is full of tourists from all over the world.

Beach front Hostel with four beds per room for $10 per person per night.

The beach across the street from the Hostel.

After our short tour of  MontaƱita we headed north up the coast again. The roads were in great condition and there was very little traffic. The only road map we could find did not show much detail, but there is just one coastal road and not many road signs.

We stopped in Puerto Lopez for lunch at a beach front Palapa restaurant. It is a small fishing village with not to much going on.
You can take a boat from here to Isla Safango, which is also called the mini Galapagos. It is a two hour boat ride to the island and I understand there are lots of blue foot boobies there. Perhaps a fun trip for another time.

Sue had her daily serving of shrimp ceviche and I had a seafood mixture with rice, which I could not finish!

Back in our Hyundai we headed towards Manta.

Sue took many hours of movies of all the scenery on our drive. We drove through many small Villages always lined with roadside stands selling everything from clothing to food. Unfortunately we could not get the disc's from her camera to play at my house. I sure hope she can figure out how to show the disc's.

The coastline in Ecuador is much like Northern Baja, Mexico and parts of California. No beautiful blue water or tropical beaches. 
We stopped by one of those gated beachfront developments where you can buy a building lot. But there were no houses in this one.

Nice looking entrance, it even had tennis courts but no houses.

We arrived in Manta about 5 pm and ended up in El Centro with all the traffic. So we headed north towards the ocean and ended up in a nice area of town on the coast with lots of new developments going up. It was a good time of year to be on the coast, the weather was great not cold and to to hot.
We stopped at a hotel but it was full so they directed us to a new Hostel up the road. It was nice but we did not want to pay $120 for one night. Back down the road we saw a sign with a bed on it and turned down a side street to another hostel.
This one was very nice and only $53 for the night so we checked in. 
As we were checking in this American guy named Richard suddenly appeared in the lobby and asked us if we might be interested in buying some Real Estate. We had a short conversation about how the area was growing and many rich Ecuadorians were buying there, but only 1% of sales were from Americans. Richard assured us our drive to Quito the next day would take about 13 hours by the time we got lost several times! Ha! I turned out he was right unfortunately.

Breakfast at Howard Johnson's

After a good nights sleep and a big breakfast we headed out for Quito, which will be the next blog!

Thanks again for all my readers from over 26 different countries now! Hope all is good with everyone. Until next time keep enjoying life.  


  1. Gary,
    I liked reading your blog about your costal trip, dear Gary... where are all the names I liked so much in your past blogs? What rental car company did you use, what is the name of the hotel in Salinas for $35/night and the name of an ocean front restaurant and the name of the hotel in Manta....
    Gary, I think you are becoming very mysterious....
    I am still fond of you,
    Jaga Rytych :)

  2. Gary.... Ecuador George here.... Thanks for sharing your coastal trip with all of us. This is the trip I want to take but without a rental car. I would van and bus it.... I would love to see the names of all those places you stayed at too. Love that giant dish of rice you had for lunch... Any stomach problems yet.... By the way, how is your Spanish? Are you fluent or are you making it on just English? Thanks again. I still need to get you on my blog roll.... George

  3. hey!! Gary it´s wanderfull your pictures, the view an all about this trip!! Regards BETO

  4. Hey Gary. Congrats for the nice blog. Keep it up, we are thousands of people waiting to know what's next in the travel to Quito!!!

  5. i read the whole thing, you didn't put in abt going over the cliff with the renta car before we got on the road. :) great blog love u suecq