Come daylight, little boats of Manteño fishing crews haul in their lines and Tarqui beach churns to life with prattling housewives and restaurant owners haggling for the best of the catch. This is the daily ritual of an old seafaring society which has transformed into a frenetic, major port.
Bahía de Caráquez
Chalk-colored high-rises and red-tile roofs fill this tiny peninsula, whose manicured yards and swept sidewalks give a tidy impression. In the first half of the 20th century, the city was Ecuador’s principal port, but eroding sandbanks let the honor drift to Guayaquil and Manta, and Bahía (as the locals call it) was left to its housekeeping. Calamities seem to collect here.
Atacames’ rolling cobalt waves set the stage for Ecuador’s most popular beach, crowded with thatched bars and sarong shops. If you enjoy the accoutrements of urban beaches, this place is for you. The strip is the lively haunt of all-night revelers with blaring music and coconuts waiting to be split, spiked with rum and served up with a Chinese umbrella.
Santo Domingo de Los Colorados
The Road to Esmeraldas
Encircled by verdant jungle, at the edge of a dank, still sea, San Lorenzo (population 14,600) is a decrepit, lively hodge-podge of blazing heat, tropical beats and crumbling storefronts. Marimba notes and salsa music flavor this mostly African-Ecuadorian outpost, which goes all out in August with an annual music festival.