Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

South Coast

Wide sandy beaches, lush nature reserves and biologically rich islands are just a few of the attractions of Ecuador's southern coastal region. For wildlife watching, outdoor activities (like surfing, hiking and paragliding) or just relaxing on the beach, this is a great place to be.

The gateway to the region is Guayaquil, a buzzing, tropical city that has gone through a remarkable transformation in recent years. To the west lies the coastal Ruta Spondylus, where you can watch migrating humpback whales or visit colonies of blue-footed boobies off Puerto Lopez, join the surf and party crowd in Montañita, or unwind in the peaceful seaside enclaves of Ayampe and Olón.

South of Guayaquil is mostly banana country, featuring miles and miles of oro verde (green gold). Machala celebrates its banana legacy, and is the entry point to the rustic, mangrove-covered island of Jambelí. Meanwhile, Zaruma is a picturesque colonial mountain town.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout South Coast.