Getting there & away
There is no central bus terminal. Aerotaxi (Sucre), between Rocafuerte and 10 de Agosto, rockets to Quito ($6, five hours). Transportes Occidentales (9 de Octubre) and Transportes Esmeraldas (10 de Agosto at Plaza Central) both near the central plaza, are slower and a little cheaper. Transportes Panamericana (Colón & Salinas), behind the playground, has the most luxurious buses to Quito, but the fare is a few dollars more, and the trip takes seven to eight hours.
Both Transportes Occidentales and Transportes Esmeraldas also have frequent buses to Guayaquil ($5 to $7, seven to eight hours). Transportes Occidentales has buses to Guayaquil and Machala ($7, nine hours). Transportes Gilberto Zambrano(cnr Sucre & Piedrahita) has buses to Santo Domingo which stop in Pedernales and five buses daily to Muisne ($2, two hours). Reina del Camino (Piedrahita) goes to Manta six times a day ($7, seven hours) and to Bahía de Caráquez ($7, eight hours) once a day.
Transportes La Costeñita (Malecón Maldonado) and Transportes del Pacífico(Malecón Maldonado) havebuses for Atacames and Súa (both $0.70, one hour) and leave frequently from 6:30am to 8pm. There are also several buses a day to Muisne ($2, two hours). These companies also go to Borbón ($3.50, four hours) and on to San Lorenzo ($4.50, five hours). Buses also go to other small provincial villages.
Note that buses from Esmeraldas to Borbón pass the airport. Passengers arriving by air and continuing by bus to towns on the way to Borbón don’t need to backtrack to Esmeraldas.
The TAME office (272 6863; Bolívar near 9 de Octubre; 8:30am-12:30pm & 3-6pm Mon-Fri) is just off the central plaza. TAME flies from Quito to Esmeraldas and back on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday afternoons. The one-way fare is $33. The 30-minute flight leaves Quito at 4pm and Esmeraldas at 5pm. You can also purchase a plane ticket at the airport office (272 7058) if the flight isn’t full; arrive early and make sure you get a seat assignment. Icaro (www.icaro.com.ec) flies to Quito and back daily. Check the website for flight times.