We set off from Guayaquil at about 1pm for the two and a half hour drive to Montañita. From what we had been told by a few surfer friends from Arica, Montañita was the place to go- beaches and waves all in a chilled out town providing the opportunity to rest for a few days and explore the area. The reality, or at least how I perceived it was actually quite different and the sleepy surfer town that I was hoping for was actually really commercial and completely overrun with tourists. Yes, I understand that I am a tourist but when I see a huge sign for Texan Ribs and a restaurant serving both pizza and Thai food, it doesn’t really make me want to stay and sample the ‘local dishes’. I know there are lots of people who love Montañita but we decided to skip it and keep going to nearby Puerto Lopez, a small town famous for being a great location to go Humpback Whale spotting. Now that is my idea of a good time.
By the time we arrived in Puerto Lopez it was already dark. We had spent nearly an hour from Montañita winding up and around and around on roads sheltered by trees where birds sit and sing their little hearts out, I took this as a good sign. If you are heading to Puerto Lopez, there are a number of hostels and places to stay up on the hillside before you reach the town. They looked really nice but I’m not too sure about prices because we didn’t stop to ask.
On arrival we didn’t have anywhere to stay so drove around the little centre. We didn’t find anywhere with parking and as we were deciding what little street to drive through next, I saw a rather large illuminated sign on the hillside with reading ‘Hostel’ which was a a possible clue that we should head upwards. The first hostel was in a huge house just visible over a very large fence but at $57 it was too expensive for us. Before heading back down we realised that there was a bed and breakfast next door called Maremonti so I popped in and asked how much they were charging. The B&B is also in a large family house with parking and an incredible view over the beach. Marinella and Mauro, the Ecuadorian/Italian owners quoted us $40/£25 with breakfast and parking so we skipped right in and made ourselves at home.
The B&B is an absolute dream, although it was late and not usually available, we cooked some pasta before eating it on our own balcony and then we were off to bed after deciding that although we loved where we were, it would be better to find somewhere cheaper. When I told one of my brothers that we left, he couldn’t believe we were passing up such cheap accommodation! Such is the life of a budget traveller.
The next morning after a fantastic shower we were served breakfast on the upstairs balcony which gave us a chance to have a good chat with our hosts and marvel at the views where you can sometimes spot Humpbacks jumping up to say hello in the water. I have to stress something now, Marinella and Mauro can cook and I mean cooook. We were served a breakfast with ham, eggs, freshly made bread (which I was so enthusiastic about that they gave me the rest of the loaf and it made my day) fresh juice, tea and coffee and fresh fruit. We talked for quite a few hours our hosts were absolute angels and gave us a few tips on budgets and tours which I will list in my next post. Please note: if you do stay at Maremonti there is also the option of ordering dinner from a varied Italian inspired menu all freshly cooked by Marinella and Mauro. The prices were in keeping with local restaurants and just from tasting the homemade bread, I think it would all be delicious.
If you’re ever in Puerto Lopez, I would recommend staying at Maremonti.
Next up: Enjoying ecologically aware Puerto Lopez and the whales, plus other budget tips