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PLEASE NOTE: The currency in Ecuador is US$s.
I stayed a total of 4 nights in Ayampe at the Los Orishas. Because I use BOOKING.COM frequently, I got a ‘Genius Discount’ and paid US$17 / night (down from US$20) for a Double Room (single occupancy) with a Double Bed, ‘average’ in-room WiFi, and a Hot Water Ensuite.
It was time to move on to another coastal town in search of some sun and some decent ‘beach life’: the famous ‘party town’ of Montanita …
Almost all (if not all) of the buses that pass Ayampe go to Montanita. I only had to wait 15 minutes. My luggage went underneath (no receipt). The price was $1.50. We arrived in Montanita about 35 minutes later.
SCAMS & SECURITY:
Please read my blog on Banos for more information about how to keep your possessions safe when travelling on these buses.
Translated as “little hill”, it became famous very slowly (decades ago) as a place for surfing … with only a few rustic fisherman’s houses and one or two surfers tents in the summer time.
Montanita reminds me a lot of El Tunco in San Salvador … just bigger with a better beach.
Montanita is, now, a very popular destination for surfers from around the world and it is considered one of the best beaches in Ecuador’s south coast … and ‘the party town’ of Ecuador.
Most of the east / west roads have beach access. North of Montañita is a small mountain called ‘the Point’.
Nowadays, Montanita’s economy is based on Tourism.
If you decide to stay in or around the ‘Main Street’ or ‘Cocktail Alley’ expect a lot of noise well into the early hours of the morning.
That’s Montanita folks!
WHERE TO STAY:
You have lots of choices. I guess that only about 50% of the accommodation options are listed on the normal online hotel search engines. You can just turn up early in the day and take a chance on finding accommodation cheaper than you can on the internet.
If you are here to party through the night, head in and around ‘Main Street’. If you want to be close to the ‘action’ but get some sleep, get into the back streets.
Personally: If I were to come again, I would head up to the north end of the beach near ‘The Point’. You can still walk to town in 10 minutes if you want to ‘party hard’.
Accommodation-wise, this is typical of what you find online … this is for 1 night mid September 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!
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.
You should easily be able to find something decent within GRANDPAcking price range.
Have a look yourself:
I booked myself into the Galeria Hurvinek … it was away from ‘Main Street’ in one of the quieter side streets.
My room was an average size. It had some furniture .. including a decent clothes rack.
The Buffet Breakfast was served in the restaurant. For US$4 (in Ecuador) I have had better value for money … there was hardly any scrambled egg. In fact, there always seemed to be insufficient food for the number of guests. But, at least, they had unlimited coffee! 🙂 One morning I was the only one eating Breakfast so they didn’t lay out a buffet at all – they just brought me scrambled egg.
The Free WiFi down in the restaurant area was poor and very unreliable during the day … the upstairs in-room wifi was better but, often, you could only stream video late at night.
INTERNET / WIFI:
CLARO POSTPAID SIM:
I had my Claro SIMcard and Postpaid Package that I bought at Quito Airport.
For more details, read my post on Canoa.
Get up to the main road to flag down local buses.
Montanita is a popular town and it is possible to catch long distance buses from here to places like Guayaquil. You can even catch a CIFA long distance bus to Mancora, Peru.
You have a plethora of options in all price ranges.
You will see Almuerzos (set meal Lunches) advertised around town for $3.50. This drops to $3 if you get away from the centre of town. These are always excellent value for money.
Burger stands set up at night selling burgers starting at $2. One of the best burgers can be found down at the Hay Chuchaqui (on the Malecon) for $1.75.
In the Back Street Stalls you can get local snacks starting from $0.50c.
Expect to pay an average of US$4 for a cheap local Continental Breakfast with coffee. Breakfast usually includes a free fruit juice.
Expect to pay an average of US$3 for a cheap ‘Almuerzo’ Lunch with fruit drink.
Expect to pay an average of US$8 for a cheap Dinner with a Fruit Juice / Small Beer.
There are lots of Happy Hours around town. Most end at 7pm but several last all day. Most are 2-for-1 Cocktails in the $5-$7 price range.
It is rarer to find Happy Hour beers … but, they can be found. The typical price is $2.50 for a 1 pint Pilsener or Club. In the more ‘rustic’ places this drops to $2. Places like the Hay Chuchaqui sell 3x large (550ml) Club beers for $5.
Around Cocktail Alley, a more typical price is 3x large Pilsener (600ml) beers for $8.
MONEY / PRICES / SHOPPING:
There are several Minimarts in town charging ‘convenience store’ prices.
There is no Supermarket.
BANKS / ATMs / MONEY EXCHANGE:
There are a couple of banks and several ATMs. There is no Bureau De Change.
HEALTH & SAFETY:
There is no reason to feel unsafe. As always, exercise normal levels of caution … don’t make yourself an obvious target.
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).
There were mosquitos around and sandflies; bring repellent.
Don’t drink the tap water.
WHEN TO GO:
Montanita has a similar climate to Guayaquil:The climate is determined by marine currents. During the winter (December through May), the climate is hot and is influenced by the warm El Niño. In the summer (June through November) it is cooled by the Humboldt current.
Montañita’s climate is consistent with that of a tropical, coastal city. Its average temperature is 28°C (82°F). Rainy season is December to May. However, rainfall is low and typically in the evening and overnight. Water temperatures range from 13-20°C (56-68°F). The warm weather and ride-able waves draw swimmers and surfers despite drizzly weather.
If you want to see lots of sun (rather than clouds), come in winter (when the rains clear the skies).
When I was in Montanita, it was over-cast most days with periods of sunshine.
MY ADVICE: Come between December and May when the sun shines. Don’t bother coming otherwise.
WHAT TO DO:
Laze around. Lie on the beach (if you are lucky enough to have any sun). Read a book.
At night, party.
From Montanita, I head a couple of kms up the coast to Olon. I will tell you more about that in my next post.
GRANDPAckers CAN afford to LIVE in Montanita 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 Montanita to GRANDPAcking standard.
I spent 4 nights at US$22 / night in a Double Room (single occupancy) with Cold Water Ensuite.
The Hostal wifi was poor and unreliable and rarely strong enough to stream videos.
My room was US$18 / night and I paid another US$4 / night to include (a very ‘average’) Breakfast.
I averaged under US$2 / day on Lunches – I don’t eat Lunch anymore. This was usually for fruit juices or coffees.
I averaged about US$9 / day on Dinners.
I spent nothing on Drinking water.
My COE worked out to be about US$26 / day.
COST OF LIVING (COL):
In / Out Costs: It cost me US$1.50 to get from my Ayampe Hostel to my Montanita Hostel.
Living Costs: I averaged about US$9 / day on drinks.
My total COL was about US$33 / 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$20 / night excluding Breakfast. Anywhere will do. Once here, ask around. You should be able to get this down to US$15 for something nice long term. Excluding Breakfast.
Transport: You can walk everywhere around town. I include a weekly public transport return day trip for 2 people to somewhere close on the coast ($1.50 return 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$30.50 / day. This is to eat all of your meals in Cheap Restaurants.
Your COE is US$46 / day.
COST OF LIVING:
This leaves you very little to LIVE on. You will need to deviate from GRANDPAcking Standard if you want more spending money (e.g. find an Hostel with a Kitchenette and eat meals at home).
THE GRANDPAckingACID TEST: Can a retired couple with no assets live easily, comfortably, and happily here with their only source of income being a standard NZ Married Couple’s State Pension? YES.
However, Montanita is a young persons party town. It won’t appeal to many GRANDPAckers.
Montanita was cheaper than what I was expecting. The amount of competition means that you can still find well-priced accommodation and meals.
The beach is reasonable too.
The problem is the weather. To get the best out of this place you need to come between December and May (when the sun shines).