This northeastern city is home to the vibrant Afro-Ecuadorian culture, which took root here in the 16th century, via wrecked slave ships and escapes from Colombian sugar plantations. The former slaves intermarried with indigenous peoples to create a new ethnic group called the Zambos. The isolated nature of the area has helped the local culture maintain its African roots, which can be found in art, fashion and especially music—this is the home of the marimba

Take a boat from San Lorenzo to this archaeologically fascinating island that was home to one of Ecuador’s oldest pre-Colombian cultures. Visit a museum run by locals and learn more about the indigenous populations here who it is believed worked with platinum centuries before it was used in Europe

Housed in the Chone estuary, this is one of Ecuador’s favorite beach resorts. Feel the laid-back charm of this small, pristine city as you stroll the Alberto Santos Malecon. Bahia has been declared an eco-city with organic gardens, ecoclubs and recycling projects


This small town, 22 miles west of Portoviejo, was founded in 1628, and is renowned for its straw and basketware. If you’ve ever pined for the perfect Panama hat, this is the place to get it. (The Panama hat, in fact, originated in Ecuador. Its name came about because it was the style of hat preferred by workers building the Panama Canal.) Visit the main plaza with its famous statue, La Virgen de Montecristi), but don’t leave without getting your fill of some of Ecuador’s finest straw and basketware handicrafts.



Alándaluz -
Mantaraya Lodge -
Tsafiki -
Rio Muchacho -


Galápagos Islands

Cabañas Miconia -
Casa Blanca -
Hotel Royal Palm -
La Casa de Marita -
Hostal Mainao -
Hotel Finch Bay -
The Red Mangrove Adventure Team -
La Isla del Descanso -
Las Gardenias -
Hostal Cormorant -

San Lorenzo

This seaside settlement, just 10 miles south of the Colombian border, is a favorite of adventure seekers. The town is generally reached by train   from Ibarra, and is the gateway to tropical forests such as La Chiquita, and virgin beaches like El Chaucal and San Pedro.

Cayapas-Mataje Ecological Reserve

Not far from San Lorenzo, this extensive ecological reserve is home to the world’s tallest mangroves. Hike about their huge roots as they weave their way through marshland and creeks

Cerro Blanco Woodland Reserve

Only nine miles outside of Guayaquil, this 5,000 acre reserve constitutes 2% of the tropical dry forests left in the world. Its best-known resident is the Red Fore-headed Parrot. The Botanical Garden is home to over 3,000 species of plant, including exotic orchids and palms.