Ecuador



GENERAL INFORMATION




Although the roads can be rough and the drivers slow, at least the bus network in Ecuador is comprehensive.

Ecuador to / from Peru

  • Bus:  The easiest route is the (Transportes Loja) bus from Loja, Ecuador, to Piura, Peru | 3 times daily | US$10 | 8-9 hours
  • Flight: Cuzco to Quito one-way £350 | 4hr 50

Ecuador is a top year-round destination, but it’s best to visit the highland areas during the dry season, which is June to September.

International Living provide a write up of the best beach towns.


PACIFIC COAST

Atacames


Atacames

Is the region’s primary resort destination. Located in the northeastern province of Esmeraldas—known in Ecuador as the “Green Province” due to its lush terrain—it’s Ecuador’s most popular beach resort.

With a permanent population of just 11,000, Atacames is peaceful on off-season weekdays. It reminds you of a Caribbean fishing village with its laidback, thatched-roof beachfront bars, sandy cobblestone streets, and open-air restaurants.

Súa


Súa

Is a “slowed-down” version of Atacames—smaller and quieter—that lies a few miles to the south. Súa remains primarily a fishing town and is a great spot to pick up fresh catch for supper.

The beaches are generally narrower, and some almost disappear at high tide. But the properties here are a terrific bargain.

Same


Same

Is just a few more miles further down the coast from Sua.

It is smaller than Sua.

Bahía de Caráquez


Bahía de Caráquez / San Vicente

Is an attractive small city of whitewashed houses with tile roofs on the estuary of the Chone River. The area is very popular with wealthy Ecuadorians who have their vacation homes here.

One thing we like about Bahía is the fact that you can live here full time.

This area has it all—nice beaches and waterfront restaurants that you’d like to have at a resort, plus all of the administrative services and cultural venues you’d expect from a city.

Baños


Baños

Is strategic location at the foot of a volcano and near the hot springs that flow from it have made Banos one of the largest resorts in the Andes. It has a strategic position which allows tours to the Andes and to the Amazon rainforest, it is a popular destination chosen by backpackers who like touring Latin America.

Canoa


Canoa

Is considered by many to have the best beach in Ecuador. If you doubt that you can get a sizzling, fresh seafood dinner or a mountain of sautéed shrimp for $3.50.

Many english speaking expats live in the area.

Manta


Manta

Is the fastest-growing city in Ecuador. There are new roads, new shopping centers, new restaurants, and construction sites everywhere. Everyone is excited about Manta. Manta today reminds us of Panama City 10 years ago, back before the current real estate boom and the resultant sky-high prices. As in Panama City, there is big money in Manta (from tuna, shrimp, and shipping). But Manta hasn’t lost that small-town Latin beach feel. And the beautiful beaches and buying opportunities extend to the north of Manta as well. A two-year-old, three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,550-square-foot condo. The condo is within walking distance to the beach and convenient to shopping and good restaurants. Asking price: $97,000.

Salinas


Salinas

Is Ecuador’s largest resort and one of the country’s best investments. Located at Ecuador’s western-most point, the town is less than a two-hour drive from the international airport at Guayaquil. Referred to as the Little Miami Beach, the town features an impressive row of white mid- and high-rise condominiums situated on a crescent bay.


INLAND

Quito


Quito

At 9,200 ft above sea level, Quito is one of the cities that have a constant climate. You will be enchanted by its temperature and low prices.

The city center was the first to be declared a UNESCO Heritage Site. It is rich with colonial buildings.


The Mountains

One exciting way to experience the mountains is to take the Spirit of the Andes train ride (previously called the Chiva Express). You get dramatic views along the Avenue of Volcanoes before navigating the legendary Nariz del Diablo and ending up in the old market town of Riobamba (4 hours south of Quito).


RETIREMENT OPTIONS

Living on $1,600 a month including rent isn’t unreasonable in a place like Cuenca, Ecuador. Buying a house or condo near the water could cost you less than a quarter of popular US destinations of similar climate. When you make the move, Ecuador allows you to import your house-hold goods duty-free, and with its new, simplified visa process, it’s no wonder Ecuador tops the list as a best-value retirement paradise.

But for many, the true draw is the perfect climate. The nation lies on the equator. The beaches are tropical, but up in the Andes, the weather is mild and spring-like year-round. Best bonus yet, it’s one of the best countries for an expat business start-up.

Ecuador is alluring largely for its affordable cost of living. A couple can easily get by in Ecuador for as little as US$1,200 per month without compromising their lifestyle. Rent can run just US$500 per month, whether you are in a cottage near the beach or a condo near the heart of a quaint colonial city.

Other inexpensive amenities include phone/cable/internet bundles for US$50 per month and domestic help for US$200 per month.

Salinas


Salinas

Population: 34,719
Climate: Mild and dry. Temperatures average in the 70s during the day and fall into the low 60s at night. The mercury can climb into the 90s, but that happens about as rarely as it rains.
Access to health care: Just 20 minutes away by car are several clinics in La Libertad and Santa Elena. There’s even a local doctor in Salinas, popular among expats, who makes house calls. The charge: $30 per visit. Retirees will find top-notch hospitals two hours away in Guayaquil.
Cost of living: A retired American couple could live well on $1,500 a month.
The draw: Miami living without Miami prices. Jutting out into the Pacific, Salinas is Ecuador’s largest coastal resort town, with great oceanfront condos, open markets and up-scale restaurants. A jetty, home to the Salinas Yacht Club, separates trendy San Lorenzo Beach from the quieter Chipipe Beach. Retirees can live a high-end beach lifestyle on the cheap; this is one of the least expensive beach resorts in Latin America. That explains the growing expat community. The $1,500-a-month budget for an American couple includes dinner out most nights.

Cuenca


Cuenca

Monthly budget: US$1,300. Monthly rent: US$500.

The cost of living is low, and the cost of real estate is near rock bottom for Latin America. The health care is high quality and inexpensive. Real estate, too, is an absolute bargain. You can buy a small condo for less than $40,000.

Cuenca is a beautiful colonial city with a fresh, spring-like climate 12 months of the year and a large and growing expat community that is one of Latin America’s most diverse and well-blended. Ecuador has other colonial cities, but Cuenca is the cultural heart of the country.

Cuenca oozes colonial charm with cobblestone streets, balconies, and a building height restriction.

On a Sunday, head out to some outlying villages (e.g. Gualaceo) for the markets.


My Initial Thoughts…

Ecuador MapMy tourism and retirement targets are:

  • Quito
  • Cotacachi
  • Anywhere on the Pacific Coast
  • Atacames / Sua / Same
  • Canoa / Bahía de Caráquez
  • Manta
  • La Libertad
  • Playas
  • Ingapirca
  • Cuenca
  • Loja
  • Vilcabamba
  • Zamora
  • Macas
  • Banos / Puyo

I will either flying in from Panama or busing in on the main route from Columbia. This means that my Ecuador experience will start in Quito.

I have high hopes of Ecuador.

My plan is to, basically, beach hop down the full Pacific coastline before cutting inland into south Ecuador and, then, crossing over into Peru.

This means that I expect to get to the locations in blue. I won’t be able to do the inland return leg back to Quito on this trip. Perhaps another time.


The next stop in my journey will be Peru.