Why not read our Retirement Reviews.
PLEASE NOTE: The currency in Ecuador is US$s.
I stayed a total of 4 nights in Montanita at the Galeria Hurvinek. Because I use BOOKING.COM frequently, I got a ‘Genius Discount’ and paid US$18 / night (down from US$22) for a Double Room (single occupancy) with a Double Bed, ‘average’ in-room WiFi, and a Cold Water Ensuite (you need hot water at this time of year!).
Montanita is a young person’s “party town” that gets very noisy into the early hours of the morning (especially around the centre of town).
It was time to move 2kms up the road to Olon: ‘Chalk and Cheese’? Absolutely …
I was dropped off in Olon outside of my hotel a few minutes later.
The town, itself, is very small.
As we cut back north along the lanes we are blocked by the stadium. In this area you find some Hospedajes. You find them elsewhere in town too. These are, usually, your cheapest accommodation options.
That’s Olon folks!
WHERE TO STAY:
You don’t have many choices. Most of the accommodations are already listed on the normal online hotel search engines. But NOT the Hospedajes. If you are Backpacking, you could just ‘turn up’ in the hope of finding unlisted, cheaper, Hospedaje accommodation. Hospedajes usually want $5 / night for each room. If you want something better, it may not be that easy (in peak season).
You can stay anywhere. You will only be a few minutes walk from the beach … but, I would keep at least 1 block away from the Highway because of traffic noise levels.
Accommodation-wise, this is typical of what you find online … this is for 1 night mid September 2018:
HOTELS & HOSTELS (Nightly Rates):
I have stopped providing Agoda listings. They more often than not (now) just refer you back to BOOKING.COM listings … and Agoda doesn’t allow you to filter for rooms with a Private Bathroom (which wastes me a lot of time).
PLEASE NOTE: Booking.com usually displays prices EXCLUSIVE of TAXES. You may need to add up to 12% to the displayed price to get the final price.
VACATION RENTALS (Weekly Rates):
If you plan to stay a week or more, another good option is to use AirBnB or TRIPADVISOR.COM to book a Holiday Rental / Vacation Rental. I have stopped listing Tripadvisor Vacation Rentals. Alas, TripAdvisor rarely have anything within GRANDPAcker price range.
Due to additional ‘service’ and ‘cleaning’ charges, Holiday Rentals are usually best rented by the week. A comparable search reveals the following … Please Note: these prices are in US$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 La Espanola … it was about 150 metres from the beach.
The Free WiFi was very good (most of the time).
La Espanola is an ‘honest low budget option’. It doesn’t pretend to be anything else. But, at this price point, it is excellent value for money. You can even long-term rent a small room here at $150 / month ($5 / night). This drops to $120 ($4 / night) for multiple months. That is excellent value considering that it includes hot water and good free wifi.
Mike would also consider a long term rental of $150-$200 / month for one of the bigger rooms downstairs (like mine) given the right conditions.
Over festivals and main holidays, almost everyone around town charges $20 / night per person. Booking a month spanning these periods can save you a lot of money.
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.
You can walk everywhere.
Get up to the main road to flag down local buses going up and down the coast. A taxi to Montanita costs $1.50.
You have several Sea Food cafe options down on the beach. You pay a premium to eat on the beach. Expect the cheapest meal to be $6 and a typical meal to be $8. The local expats say that they are all ‘much of a muchness’ with no particular one standing out as ‘the best’. Off season, these beachfront cafes close at sunset.
You will find your typical Chicken BBQs and Emplanada Stalls setting up in the streets at night. One rainy night I walked over the road to my ‘local’ evening stall and had a Fried Fish meal for $3.50.
Expect to pay an average of US$3 for a cheap local 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$6.50 for a cheap Dinner with a Fruit Juice / Small Beer.
There are very few Happy Hours around town. Those that you do find are 2-for-1 Cocktails in the $5-$7 price range down on the beach. Interestingly, next door to a Happy Hour you can find normal prices at $3.50-$4.50 for the same thing.
You should pay $1.25 for the same in a store … but, as a Gringo, they will probably charge you $1.50. In the cheaper local cafes (e.g. up on the Highway) you pay $1.50.
MONEY / PRICES / SHOPPING:
There are several Minimarts in town charging ‘convenience store’ prices.
There is a small Supermarket up on the Highway.
Laundry costs $0.50c / lb ($1.10 / kg).
BANKS / ATMs / MONEY EXCHANGE:
There are no banks nor ATMs; you have to go to Montanita. There is no Bureau De Change. Bring cash.
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:
The climate is determined by marine currents. During the winter (December through May), the climate is hot and humid … and is influenced by the warm El Niño. In the summer (June through November) it is cooled by the Humboldt current.
Olon’s climate is consistent with that of a tropical, coastal town. 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 Olon, it was over-cast most days with few periods of sunshine.
PLEASE NOTE: Between December and May (peak season) these quiet streets can get crowded with 100s of tourists.
WHAT TO DO:
Laze around. Lie on the beach (if you are lucky enough to have any sun). Read a book. Surf.
LA ESPANOL POKER FRIDAY:
Mike (the owner) gets in some beers and he may knock up some afternoon food. GRANDPAckers should give it a go and meet some of the locals.
From Olon, I head across the south of Ecuador (via Guayaquil) to Cuenca. I will tell you more about that in my next post.
GRANDPAckers CAN afford to LIVE here to GRANDPAcking standard.
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 to GRANDPAcking standard.
I spent 4 nights at about US$11 / night in a Double Room (single occupancy) with Hot Water Ensuite.
The Hostal wifi was good and reliable and strong enough to stream videos.
I averaged under US$4 / day on Breakfasts. This was a mix between Western and Ecuadorian Breakfasts.
I averaged under US$0.40c / day on Lunches – I don’t eat Lunch anymore. This was usually for fruit juices or coffees.
I averaged about US$7.50 / day on Dinners. Again, this was a mix between Western and Ecuadorian Dinners.
I spent nothing on Drinking water.
My COE worked out to be about US$18 / day.
COST OF LIVING (COL):
In / Out Costs: It cost me US$1.50 to get from my Montanita Hostel to my Olon Hostel.
Living Costs: I averaged about US$4 / day on drinks. I spent $9.50 on having some fun (i.e. losing) on Poker Friday.
My total COL was about US$24 / 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$12.50 for something decent 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$25.50 / day. This is to eat all of your meals in Cheap Restaurants.
Your COE is US$39 / day.
COST OF LIVING:
This leaves you plenty to LIVE on.
THE GRANDPAcking ACID 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.
And, there is a small community of expats that have already decided to do so. Some of whom have got themselves a nice beachfront rental property within GRANDPAcking budget.
Olon is nothing like Montanita. It is a laid-back little place. The beach is reasonable too.
MY ADVICE: To get the best out of this place you need to come between December and May (when the sun shines). Come before everywhere fills up if you want to get these accommodation prices.