Located literally in the middle of the Equator at a Latitude 0 0’ 0” lies arguably one of the best tropical summer surf destinations on the planet, the small Latin American Nation of Ecuador. More often than not the beautiful region of mainland Ecuador is by passed by many a traveler in favour of the Galapagos Islands, the jewel in Ecuador’s tourism crown. However, this is clearly not the case for many an intrepid surfer who know's of what this stunningly diverse coastline has to offer wave wise. Ecuador is a literal surfers paradise and you are about to find out why. [Continued below]
Between the months of November and March the coastline of Ecuador lights up with a constant bombardment of both North and South swells that roll into hundreds of surf spots that are peppered across this small patch of coastline. Ecuador having just under 700 km of coastline is literally bursting at the seems with an unlimited array of surf spots to choose from. Beginning with the right hand points breaks of Playas in the deep South to the party surf towns of Salinas and Montañita a little further north. While in the middle of Ecuador's coast lay the thumping beach breaks of the El Cayo and Manta regions. Finally in the most Northern reaches of Ecuador you will find the famed Afro-Ecuadorian fishing village and left hand point break of Mompiche. These mainstream spots are just the the tip of the iceberg. We are only scarping the surface here as much of the Ecuadorian coastline still goes under the radar and thus meaning that there are many more breaks and regions to explore if you wish to escape the hungry crowds evident in this country.
There is virtually something for everyone here in Ecuador. Classic point breaks, hollow perfect and empty beach breaks, heavy reefs and even down to mellow beginner’s waves if you so desire. You name it, Ecuador has it. The only area of which Ecuador seems to suffer a shortage of is quality left hand waves as right handers tend to rule the roost and are much more common place. During the peak swell period large north and south swells make their way across the Pacific Ocean to pound Ecuador’s beautiful shores. These beautifully groomed swells come from as far as a field as Hawaii which means when the North shore of Hawaii is firing the coast of Ecuador will soon follow suit. While not as common during the prime wave season South swells are still prevalent and will provide the avid surfer with further options on this wave soaked coastline.
If this overabundance of quality waves still does not quite do it for you (talk about a hard sell) then wait until we factor in daily morning offshores and tropical water conditions. It is offshore in Ecuador almost every morning during the peak wave season and the ocean temperature here clocks in at a balmy 20-25 degree Celsius… yes this means surfing in board shorts year round. Once all of these highly favourable attributes have been factored in few can argue against the claim that Ecuador is without a doubt a true surfers paradise. Having such a great assortment of spots spread across a relatively small coastline makes Ecuador a very, very juicy prospect for the true adventurous nomadic surfers out there with exploration prosects being limitless. [Continued below]
While Ecuador is an amazing surf location it is not all a bed of roses if one is to time one's arrival poorly. Once the prime wave season comes to an abrupt halt at the end of March so do the prime surf conditions. While large south swell begin their yearly march up the Pacific coast of the Latin Americas so do the unfavourable gale force South Westerly winds. These unsavory winds unfortunately blow out the majority of Ecuador's coastline and in particular the right hand breaking waves and beach breaks are adversely affected. This is the time of year to flee South to the nearby yet more sheltered left hand point breaks of Peru. These famed Peruvian point breaks cop the large swells directly but are more protected from the strong South winds. Perhaps if time and money was not an issue one could alternate between the coast of Ecuador during the warmer summer months and then to the famous point breaks of Peru in the winter. The best of both worlds! The dream life! [Continued below]
Ecuador is a truly stunning and diverse little nation. Any surf trip to this country would not be complete without leaving the coastline behind (be it for a short time while the waves are down) to explore some of the many wonders hidden here. Ecuador on a whole is generally a cheap and relatively safe Nation to visit (although it is recommended to take extra care in large city centers and on some bus routes).
Furthermore, due to Ecuadors small size it is easy to navigate making Ecuador an adventurers dream Ecuador has unlimited riches on offer for any budding traveler. If history and culture is your thing then you will readily find yourself at home in the old Colonial Spanish towns of Quito and Cuenca. This two stunning cities are located high in the mountainous peaks of the Andes and are not far from some of the most dramatic volcanic landscapes you may ever witness such as the majestic Cotopaxi which reaches a staggering height of 5,897 meters.
Finally but by no means least no visit to Ecuador is complete without taking in the breathtaking sights and sounds of the stunning Ecuadorian Amazon. If you limit your journey to Ecuador solely to surfing then you will sadly miss out on many of the amazing experiences that this country has to offer. [Continued below]
I firmly believe that one of the major attributes that can make or break an experience in a new country and culture is without a doubt the people that you encounter on your journey. I am happy to report that this was indeed the case with my many positive experiences and interactions with the Ecuadorian people.
From a personal perspective while the Ecuadorian people may not be as passionate, friendly and vibrant as the likes of Brasil, Argentina and Colombia I still was fortunate enough to meet some amazing people and make some very close friends. Once Ecuadorians get to know you they will embrace you, warmly welcome you into their circle of friends and take you under their wings. They will do their best to ensure that you have the best possible experience in their country from a rich local perspective which in my mind is absolutely the best way to view and experience a nation. To all my amazing Ecuadorian friends thank you for the amazing hospitality you have shown me. [Continued below]
On a side note, if you are fortunate to be blessed with the opportunity to make the pilgrimage to the Galápagos Islands please take it if not just for the amazing wildlife and scenery alone. The Galápagos is what I would describe as the trip of a lifetime. Located over 900 kilometers off the coast of Ecuador lay the ruggedly beautiful isolated islands of the Galápagos. While this region is typically most famed for raw beauty, vast abundance of unique wildlife and the key inspiration for the development Charles Darwin's theory of Evolution but what many do not realise is that these world renown islands are in fact home to some of the best and heaviest waves in Ecuador if not South America. If these factors are not strong enough reasons to make a detour to the Galápagos then I sure as hell don't know what is. You can read more about my Galápagos surfing adventures here and here. [Continued below]
And there you have it, Ecuador in a nutshell. Ecuador is quite possibly one of the best summer time surfing locations on the planet thanks to its tropical warm waters, daily early morning offshores, constant clean swells and a magnitude of top quality surfing locations to choose from. If you are the adventourous type on the lookout for a warm water surfing location a little of the beaten path in a beautiful and unique country boasting a unique culture than look no further than Ecuador.