Why not read our Retirement Reviews.
PLEASE NOTE: The currency in Ecuador is US$s.
I stayed a total of 4 nights in Quito at the Hostal Mediodia. I got a ‘last minute deal’ and paid US$10 / night (down from US$15) for a Double Room (single occupancy) with a Double Bed, Cable TV (with several English speaking channels), (poor) in-room WiFi, and a Hot Water Ensuite. It was on the edge of the ‘historical centre’:
The streets around the hotel were very ‘uninspiring’ … there were no nice cafes nor bars to while-away-the-time in. I found myself getting away from the area and being back home in my room before 8pm (for safety).
It was time to move on to a beach: Canoa.
Reina have a website where you can make bookings but, alas, they do not list this route on that website (avoid the 3rd Party Websites that want to charge you US$22 for the same ticket). You have to buy your ticket at their office in one of the main Bus Terminals (e.g. in the city, Quitumbe, or Carcelen).
The information on the internet is wrong. The Reina bus to Canoa does not leave from this Bus Terminal (but, this can change on a sixpence). It leaves from the Carcelen Bus Terminal in the north of Quito. The bus is scheduled to leave at 11:45pm:
I bought my ticket at their in-city office and headed for Carcelen the next night. My stowed luggage was tagged and I was given a receipt. We left on schedule.
It was an ‘average’ quality bus. The seating was ‘tight’ with little leg room. My trip was made even more uncomfortable by the man in the seat in front of me … who reclined his seat to the maximum (pinning my legs to my chair) … his seat seemed to recline a lot further than everyone else’s! I didn’t get much sleep. At 5:30am we stopped for 10 minutes in Chone. At 6:20am we stopped for 10 minutes in Bahía de Caraquez. At 7:05am we arrived in Canoa.
SCAMS & SECURITY:
Please read my blog on Banos for more information about how to keep your possessions safe when travelling on these buses.
The town suffered extensive damage during the 2016 Ecuador earthquake. It is still being rebuilt. Nowadays, it looks ‘rustic’.
And the ‘typical’ beachfront bar …
Where you find a cluster of trees where you can swing your hammock …
WHERE TO STAY:
Once in the town, there are a variety of hostals to choose from. I guess that about half of them are not listed on the normal online hotel search engines. You can take a risk here: just turn up early in the day, walk the streets, ask around, and find cheaper accommodation (than you find on the internet).
If you’re on a tight budget, locals will often let you pitch your tent in their yard for just a few dollars per night. This usually grants you access to their bathroom and shower as well.
Accommodation-wise, this is typical of what you find online … this is for 1 night in late August 2018:
HOTELS & HOSTELS (Nightly Rates):
I have stopped providing Agoda listings. They more often than not (now) just refer you back to BOOKING.COM listings … and Agoda doesn’t allow you to filter for rooms with a Private Bathroom (which wastes me a lot of time).
PLEASE NOTE: Booking.com usually displays prices EXCLUSIVE of TAXES. You may need to add up to 12% to the displayed price to get the final price.
VACATION RENTALS (Weekly Rates):
If you plan to stay a week or more, another good option is to use AirBnB or TRIPADVISOR.COM to book a Holiday Rental / Vacation Rental. I have stopped listing Tripadvisor Vacation Rentals. Alas, TripAdvisor rarely have anything within GRANDPAcker price range.
Due to additional ‘service’ and ‘cleaning’ charges, Holiday Rentals are usually best rented by the week. A comparable search reveals the following … Please Note: these prices are in US$s …
PLEASE NOTE: AirBnB usually displays prices INCLUSIVE of TAXES but EXCLUSIVE of any ‘Security Deposit’ (if required). ALSO, the displayed price may also be EXCLUSIVE of ‘Service Fees’ (which can add as much as 16%). ALSO, watch out for any ‘Cleaning Fee’ as some places charge more than 1 day’s rent!
I was surprised to find so few properties listed on AirBnB.
In S.E. Asia, I wouldn’t touch AirBnB with a barge pole … in my opinion and experience the accommodation that you find is an absolute rip off. However, here, they are worth a look.
There are several GRANDPAcking options to choose from.
Have a look yourself:
I booked myself into the Hotel & Restaurant Amalur … it looked like the ‘best of a bad bunch’. I booked 4 nights in a Double Room (single occupancy) at a discounted rate of US$20 / night.
The Free WiFi was good most of the time and good enough to stream video.
INTERNET / WIFI:
CLARO POSTPAID SIM:
I had my Claro SIMcard and Postpaid Package that I bought at Quito Airport. I paid US$16.80 total. The SIMcard was US$1.80 and they said that it included the 1 month ‘Conexion 15’ plan worth US$15. This plan includes 2GB of data, unlimited texts, unlimited Whatsapp, 250MB of Facebook data, 23 minutes of International calls (to only about 8 ‘named’ countries), and 110 minutes of local calls.
I registered with Claro online and downloaded their Smartphone App. You can only do this with Postpaid Plans. I recommend that you do the same. Without the App, you are ‘running blind’ … Claro are notorious for not being able to tell you how much data you have left.
My hotel wifi in Banos was so bad that I topped it up with another US$10 and bought 10GBs of extra data (The Claro App had a ‘special’ on: US$10 for 10GBs lasting 1 month). In Quito, I topped it up with another US$15 and tried to renew my monthly plan – I failed.
When I went into a Claro Store in Quito, I discovered the truth:
- At the airport, I paid US$1.80 for the SIMcard; The other US$15 was a ‘Security Deposit’
- I had not paid for my Conexion 15 Plan at all
- When you ‘top up’ in a local store you only get phone call credits
- You cannot use your phone call credits to buy other services nor renew your plan
- Even Claro, themselves, cannot (or will not) re-assign top up money to anything else
- If you have a Postpaid Plan you have to ask to ‘pay your bill’ / ‘Pago Mi Plan’ (NOT TO TOP UP)
- My $10 + $15 = $25 of top ups was just sitting there unused (and, for me, unusable)
- Over my first month I still owed US$15 for my expired Conexion 15 Plan and US$10 for the extra GBs that I had bought; A total of US$25 – which I paid
- My Claro Billing Cycle did not align to the date that I bought my SIMcard
- I bought the SIM on the 16th of July
- Yet my Postpaid Bill was calculated on the 8th of each month, invoiced to me on the 11th of each month, and payable by the 19th of each month
- When I give them back the SIM (when I leave Ecuador), I will get my $15 Security Deposit back
I find Movistar a lot easier to use and understand. Movistar also have a better Smartphone App which works on Prepaid as well as Postpaid. Alas, even though Claro drive me nuts, Claro have a much better service in Ecuador so I went with them instead.
I had an H+ signal most of the time that improved to 3G in some places around town.
You can walk everywhere around town.
This is where you catch the local buses.
There are so many restaurants to choose from that it’s almost impossible to get around them all – let alone try them out so that you can recommend which are the best ones! A bunch of expats down at the Suki Bar told me that the best Seafood Restaurant is ‘Cevicheria Saboreame #2’ which is found on the beachfront. The Charly Bar is also recommended for Lunch (it closes at dusk).
As a rule, you will pay 25% more to eat on the beachfront.
Surprisingly, you don’t get many street stalls. Even the ‘side of the road’ cafes have proper menus! If you get lucky, there’s a man who sells good Shawarmas off the back of his truck for about $2-$3.
At the beach end of the main street you can get a cafe Shawarma. I had a ‘double meat’ one for US$4 – yummy.
Expect to pay an average of US$3 for a cheap local Continental Breakfast with coffee (eggs as you like them, bread, jam, butter, a slice of processed ham, and a piece of cheese. Breakfast usually includes a free fruit juice.
Expect to pay an average of US$5 for a cheap Lunch with fruit drink.
Expect to pay an average of US$8 for a cheap Dinner with a Fruit Juice / Small Beer.
MY ADVICE: Make good use of the set menu Almuerzos (lunches) whenever you can … and, then, you can keep your main cost (Dinner) down to a minimum.
The town has an active night-life, and people will often stay up dancing and drinking Pilsener Grandes.
The normal price for a 330ml local beer in a local cafe is US$1-$1.25c. A 1 pint bottle is US$1.75-$2.00. A 1 pint Pilsener in a store is US$1.75 (US$1.50 plus a 25c returnable deposit on the bottle).
You will find several Happy Hours around town – especially down on the beachfront. Most are 6pm-7pm. Almost all are 2-for-1 Cocktails. I am told that these 2-for-1’s can be disappointing: weak and made from cheap, local alcohol. Choose your bar carefully.
As the expats drink in these places, you can (probably) trust their cocktails to be good / better value for money.
MONEY / PRICES / SHOPPING:
You are paying ‘average’ Tourist prices.
BANKS / ATMs / MONEY EXCHANGE:
There are no banks nor ATMs. There is no Bureau De Change. Bring plenty of cash.
HEALTH & SAFETY:
The main problem is Petty Theft … which is a ‘typical’ problem in Latin America. Don’t leave anything unattended. Lock up your hotel room. Lock up your valuables within your hotel room (single lock hotel room doors are notoriously easy to break into without a key).
I didn’t notice any mosquitoes.
Don’t drink the tap water.
WHEN TO GO:
But, not quite ... the locals tell me that Canoa has its own ‘micro-climate’ – Canoa gets more rain.
In the ‘dry’ season, the skies can be over-cast all day. If you want more sunny days, you need to come in ‘wet’ season (when the moisture is being cleared from the air).
From Canoa, I head down the coast to Puerto Lopez. I will tell you more about that in my next post.
GRANDPAckers CAN afford to LIVE in Canoa to GRANDPAcking standard … but, only just.
Read About – GRANDPAcking Costs if you don’t know how to interpret my figures.
MY ACTUAL COSTS:
My costs are broken down into:
- Cost of Existence: The basic costs of just being there
- Cost of Living: The additional costs that make being there fun
COST OF EXISTENCE (COE):
I lived in Canoa to GRANDPAcking standard.
I spent 4 nights at US$20 / night in a small Double Room with Hot Water Ensuite.
The Hostal wifi was good and reliable and strong enough to stream videos.
I averaged US$3.75c / day on Breakfasts – usually because I had extra coffees.
I averaged US$0c / day on Lunches – I don’t eat Lunch anymore.
I averaged about US$11.50 / day on Dinners – I took advantage of the lovely seafood.
I spent nothing on Drinking water.
My COE worked out to be about US$28 / day.
COST OF LIVING (COL):
In / Out Costs: It cost me US$12 to get from Quito to my Canoa Hostal.
Living Costs: I averaged about US$10 / day on cocktails & beers (which included about US$15 in tips).
My total COL was about US$38 / day.
COSTS FOR 2 GRANDPAckers:
Again, costs are broken down in Cost Of Existence (COE) and Cost Of Living (COL).
COST OF EXISTENCE:
Accommodation: Book yourself into something for the first 2 nights at about US$25 / night excluding Breakfast. Anywhere will do. Once here, ask around. You should be able to get this down to US$20 for something nice long term. Excluding Breakfast.
Transport: You can walk everywhere around town. I include a weekly public transport return day / shopping trip for 2 people to Bahia de Caraquez ($0.50c each way per person).
Communications & Fees: I include a Claro Tourist SIMcard: 1 Month Data, 4GB Data, Unlimited Texts, 110 Local Talk Minutes, 23 Intl America Talk Minutes. US$27.
Food & Beverages: Your budget is US$32.50 / day. This is to eat all of your meals in Cheap Restaurants.
Your COE is US$52 / day (100% of your total budget).
COST OF LIVING:
This leaves you nothing to LIVE on. You will need to deviate from GRANDPAcking Standard if you want to have enough spending money to have more fun (e.g. find an Hostal with a Kitchenette and eat some meals at home).
A small, western quality, 1-Bedroom apartment up near the main road can be had for US$300 / month inclusive of electric and utilities. A GRANDPAcking standard 2-Bedroom apartment will cost US$450-500 (all inclusive).
Your Retirement Costs will be slightly lower than your Holiday Costs … which should give you the missing ‘spending money’ that you need.
Canoa is definitely worth a look and it has quite a few expats that have made the place home. Many came here to run businesses and have, since, sold up yet stayed.
The expats here tell me that Canoa is very safe … and that the locals are lovely.