As the country’s name suggests, Ecuador is centrally located, sitting directly on the equator and thus picking up both north and south swells, making it one of the few Pacific destinations that is as consistent in summer as it is in winter. Toss in beautiful scenery, minimal crowds and the Galapagos Islands, and Ecuador qualifies as a low-risk, high-reward destination for the everyman naturalist with a penchant for wave riding.
The Surf: Although best known for its righthand point breaks, Ecuador also houses countless beach break and reef setups. Due to the long distances swells must travel to arrive on its equatorial coastline, Ecuador is generally a beginner to intermediate surf destination, with a handful of advanced spots thrown into the mix.
Five Waves Worth Surfing:
- La Chueka: A powerful beach break near Salinas, this peak can provide draining barrels to rival many of the world’s big-name sandbars.
- Puerto Cayo: Another beach break setup with lefts and rights that can barrel at low tide.
- Manta: A righthand sandbar setup off of a jetty, Manta is popular with the bodyboarders due to its punchy barrels and is surrounded by a great nightlife/social scene.
- Engabao: A classic righthand point break that picks up S and SW swells (making it a summertime spot).
- Galapagos Islands: While the Galapagos are famous for their flora and fauna, what many don’t realize is that the islands are also holding a number of world-class reef breaks.
The Water: The water on the mainland can be quite beautiful, especially away from cities, and of course the water in the Galapagos Islands is about as pristine as it comes. Surface temps range from 70 to 79 F (21 to 26C).
The Season: Perhaps the best thing about Ecuador (from a surfer’s perspective at least) is the fact that it picks up both north and south hemi swells, which means the country enjoys consistent swell year round. That being said, winds are best between December and March, coinciding with north swells, while the south swell season (April through September) can often suffer from an onshore flow.
The Vibe: Although the surf scene in Ecuador is growing and a few of the more popular spots can be crowded, for the most part this is still one of surfing’s frontiers. With a little imagination and a desire to get off the beaten track, you are quite likely to surf by your lonesome.
Things To Do: The Galapagos Islands are one of the most ecologically rich regions on the planet, so even if you don’t end up scoring waves there, the plant and wildlife alone should be enough to make your trip worthwhile.
Where To Stay: Ecuador has a wide range of accommodation options, from hotels and hostels to surf camps and eco-focused live-aboards. You’ll most likely want to locate yourself somewhere near the surf (i.e., Manta, Montanita, Las Salinas, Baja Manabi, etc.).
What To Bring: Your standard shortboard and a backup. All necessary surf accessories, especially if you intend to get off the beaten track. A 4×4 vehicle if you are looking to explore. Sun protection (you are literally on the equator). Hiking shoes, a snorkel and mask and a copy of Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle and On the Origin of Species.
Getting There: Guayaquil and Quito are the main international airports, and domestic flights can be arranged to Manta. Tourist visas are available to citizens of all countries. Airport codes: GYE (Guayaquil), UIO (Mariscal Sucre International Airport, near Quito) and MEC (Manta).