Getting there & away
Most places along the northern coast can be reached from Quito in a day’s travel. The main, fastest route from Quito to the coast is the newer road via the unappealing lowland city of Santo Domingo de los Colorados, which has plenty of hotels should the need arise. The old road to Santo Domingo passes through Mindo before winding down to Esmeraldas city.
San Lorenzo (in Esmeraldas province) can be reached by paved road from Ibarra (in the northern highlands) in only four hours. From Cuenca, Guayaquil is less than four hours away via the new road through Parque Nacional Cajas. Nearly the entire coastal highway is now paved. A spectacular road links Latacunga in the highlands to the lowland city of Quevedo, an important junction en route to the south coast. Many people endure the 11-hour bus ride from Quito to Puerto López, a groovy little fishing village and access-point to Parque Nacional Machalilla and the Ruta del Sol.