Ecuador boutique travel tours in Guayaquil & beaches nearby
Guayaquil - The pearl of the Pacific
Guayaquil is trying hard to make a better tourist appeal, but most people just zip through it to or from their way to the coast. Called the Pearl of the Pacific, it is a new city that after recent transformations, has a lot on offer for visitors.
Santiago de Guayaquil, or just Guayaquil, is the most populous city in Ecuador, as well as that nation's main sea port. Guayaquil is on the west margin of the Guayas River, which flows into the Gulf of Guayaquil in the Pacific Ocean. The city is the center of Ecuador's fishing and manufacturing industries.
Most buildings in downtown Guayaquil have a very attractive and utilitarian feature - the soportales. These are colonnades or arcades that provide protection to pedestrians from the Equatorial sun and torrential rains. These are worthy of study and imitation by architects from other parts of the world. The city is located in the Golf of Guayaquil, it is the largest geographical formation in the coast of South America. It is located on the Guayas River, the largest in the Pacific coast of the Americas. It is surrounded by the intra-coastal forest and hills, its natural beauty and the dry tropical forest make it one of the best eco-tourism destinies in the world; especially bird watching. Within the city, on the River banks, the Malecon garden park offers a wide variety of at least 150 varieties of birds, many of them endemic, that is to say unique in the world.
The monumental part of the city with the Seminario Park, known as the Iguana´s Park, the churches,The Main Museum, The 9 de Octubre Boulevard, Square and Church “San Francisco”( “Saint Francis” for the English speakers), Culture House Museum, Centenario Park, etc.
Malecón is a historical pillar of our town, since the city grew from it and it played a pivotal role in the city’s development. Being this, such an important part of Guayaquilean life, the Malecón 2000 project was created and it is our pleasure to be able to share the colors of our Malecón and within it the colors of the river. Malecón 2000 has become our heart again and we want to share it with all of our guests. You can not come to Guayaquil without visiting it, again or for the first time.
Giving it a tone of sobriety and as a great ending of Olmedo Avenue. It is on an allegoric base with cylindrical pools. Next to it is the Union Club, a private club that has been part of Guayaquil since 1927. On the north end there are 13 varied restaurants, with national and international cuisine.
Children´s playground and exercise areas
This zone was created for the people that live in the area, but it can be enjoyed by anyone. In it, we find entertainment for all, with games for children, exercise areas, rest areas, restaurants and bars. The games area has toboggans, hanging bridges, hammocks, carousels, slides, and a skating site.
This part of Malecón is without a doubt the most beautiful and colorful one. Besides the squares and parks that complete its beauty we can learn about more than 350 native species of plants.
Henry Morgan Pirate ship
One of the many ways you can have fun at Malecón 2000 is in a ride commonly known as the Pirate Ship. It cruises throughout the Guayas River. From the ship you can see all of Malecón 2000 with its different urban backgrounds, Mount Santa Ana and Las Peñas.
With a station located in Malecón and Sucre streets, they offer horse carriage tourist routes. Their schedule of attention is Wednesdays to Sundays from 18h00 to 22h00 and weekends and holydays from 15h00 to 23h00.
MAAC- Museum of Anthropology and Contemporary Art
The museum belongs to Ecuador’s Central Bank and its design resembles a pre – Columbus ship. Inside, you can find art expositions, museums and research areas, a movie theatre and an esplanade for outdoor shows. It also counts with a food court and basic services.
A historical monument that was used to defend the city from pirates has been incorporated to this sector. It has been restored and placed in a proper environment so its importance is recognized.
It is the middle sector and of most civic representation of Malecón 2000. In this square we find the monuments with the most history, which were here before the renovation. These are:
La Rotonda, the city’s most representative monument. It commemorates the meeting of Latin America’s liberators, Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín, which took place in Guayaquil on July 25th, 1822.
The “Morisca” Tower. Another building that is considered an icon and a landmark has been made to make it more noticeable.
In it we find the Crystal Palace, San José Church, Flag Square and the crafts market. The renovated South Market, now known as the Crystal Palace, because of its structure and impressive design that goes back to 1907 has been declared Historical Patrimony.
Malecón del Estero Salado
The construction of this boardwalk is a parallel work to the actions taken by Guayaquil’s City Hall to recuperate and rehabilitate this part of the sea that was once a much concurred spot for swimmers. In this part of town you can see 9 de Octubre avenue, fast food restaurants, the “Cuidadela Ferroviaria” park and the “Guayaquil” park. These parks are for family fun.
Santa Ana Hill - Cerro Santa Ana
Santa Ana hill is located on the northeast side of town, next to the Guayas River and the traditional neighborhood of Las Peñas
The hill, formerly called Cerrito Verde is the place where the city was born when it was founded at its bottom in 1547. Currently, the hill is a tourist spot. In 310 meters you have restaurants, coffee houses, art galleries, and craft shops. It has squares and parks and green areas for recreation and rest. And of course, a majestic view of Guayaquil.
From the top you can see, to the north, the intersection of the Babahoyo and Daule rivers (that form the Guayas river) to the south, the downtown area and Santay Island and Duran to the east. To the west, there’s Mount Carmen and the rest of the city. There are 456 stairs of restaurants, people, services, history, and many more.
Plaza Mirador the Fortín
Is the highest point of the Hill, where the lighthouse is located, the Honors Plaza, the chapel of Santa Ana, the open museum
Lighthouse (built in 2002): It has a great symbolic representation. It has a height of 18,75 mts. and posses an internal stair that takes you to the terrace, the strategic point to observe the city.
Open Museum (built in 2002): To guard the city that blossom in the Santa Ana Hill, it was founded in 1629 the Castle, Fort or San Carlos Fortín located at the top of the Santa Ana Hill. At the time that many continuos pirate attacks kept coming.
Santa Ana Port
On the facilities of the old National Brewery, a new touristic attraction for the city and it will be called Puerta Santa Ana (Santa Ana Port). It will be a center for entertainment, recreation and sport. The project will have a recreational complex, civic plaza, convention center and a thematic museum related with the production of the beer. It will also have some spaces dedicated to a museum of important people like the singer Julio Jaramillo, the radiotalker Carlos Armando Romero Rodas, and the teams of the city Barcelona and Emelec. There will be a hotel, offices, restaurants, small businesses and small boardwalks that will turn it, without a doubt, in the new gathering center for the citizens of this city, the country and the whole world.
Barrio Las Peñas
Las Peñas neighborhood is the city’s oldest neighborhood, and now its being restored to show it as once was. Currently it is the center of cultural activities and expositions. Located next to the river it lightens the city from its side. Currently, it gathers what it takes to be considered a liaison between written history and wooden constructions and contemporary construction made out of iron, cement and glass. Its peculiar architectonic style, its narrow street, the houses by the river that have two fronts make it an attractive destiny for tourists. Every July it becomes a window to the arts and culture of artists that live there and the cultural manifestations that take place year after year.
Duplicating old Guayaquil, the historical park is a must see spot for those who visit Guayaquil. It is a place where you can go through a forest by using a wooden path that goes through it. Located in Entre Ríos, on the Guayaquil-Samborondón road, it looks to recreate the way of life of yesteryear with three zones: wildlife, urban – architectural and traditions and expositions. This area of 8 hectares is surrounded by all sorts of trees, like the “platanillo” that grows naturally from the Daule River. There are 28 species of animals in captivity, among them: the white tail deer, raccoons, “lavador” bears, and crocodiles. There are 90 species of birds, like the parakeet and the harpey eagle. It is built like a zoo safari. It means that it is a natural habitat in which animals enjoy almost total freedom.
At the park, you can also appreciate structures that represent the traditions of the coast and it recreates two blocks from early 20th century Guayaquil that represent the old town and have been declared of cultural patrimony.
The City of Guayaquil’s General Cemetery is a National Cultural Patrimony. It is one of the most impressive architectural pieces in our town. The central part of the cemetery is the oldest one. In it, you can see the most beautiful statues and mausoleums from Italy and France. It has funerary monuments that are shaped like chapels or temples.More of a cultural legacy, the Cemetery also possesses a rich source of statues and relieves made by skillful craftsmen both local and foreign. As a whole, the Cemetery is like a town in itself; with avenues, streets, roads, stairways that communicate with each other with a big wall that faces the city.
Cerro Blanco tropical dry forest
30 minutes from Guayaquil the protected forest of "Cerro Blanco" has a system of natural paths and a visitor center. There are 850 species in 3490 hectares. The Cerro Blanco protected forest is a shelter for many animals, like butterflies and lizards that hide in the leaves. It also has 33 species of mammals like the howling monkey and Ocelots. Cerro Blanco is known by its many birds, with more than 207 species, 30 of them rapture birds, like the falcon among others, and the Guayaquil parrot, a symbol of the reserve and an endangered specie.
Puerto Hondo Mangrove Swamps
This place, besides educating its visitors, allows the income of some families to grow in the zone, using the area as a tourist spot. There are four types of swamps: red, white, black and “jeli”. On top of the trees you can observe there are snakes and many species of birds, like the “lazy” bird, the heron among others. On the lake you can fish and you can see shells, and shrimp in the area.
Our country has more than 2000 species of orchids, and many of these, as well as the best sampler of trees and plants from the Ecuadorian coast can be found in an interesting walk through the Gardens. The botanical garden, an ideal place to observe a great variety of trees and birds. Inside there are about 324 species of trees, 73 bird species and more than 60 butterflies species. Besides, there are other animals like armadillos, lizards, rabbits and geese.
The Mangrove Swamps of Churute
Located in the Taura parish, on the 46 kilometer of the Guayaquil – Machala highway it is 49000 hectares long, which makes it the biggest reserve of the Gulf of Guayaquil. It is named after the Churute mountain range, which has seven mounts. The swamps have five dependant ecosystems: swamp, estuary, tropical, dry forest and lacustrian. Each has different flora and fauna. The temperature varies according to the maritime currents and the area’s conditions.
Swamp forest and estuary
Its important support of sediments next to the sea currents have formed a complex chain of islands in the Reserve, which, combined with continental land, both high and humid locks beep swamp forests. 70% of the protected area belongs to this forest.
El Canclón Lagoon
The northeast side of the reserve has an enormous plain space where the lagoon was formed. Made out of rain and 800 hectares long, it has a singular scenic charm. It is named after a bird species of the same name and the sound this bird makes.
El Mate Path
Located on the mount of the same name. You can appreciate the transition from the secondary to the primary dry forest. Its main attractions are birdwatching and the observation of exotic plants and monkeys, squirrels and invertebrate animals in general.
El Mirador Path
This is a short hike. From the top you have a 360 degree panoramic view of splendid contrasts, due to the different elements in the environment.
Mounts Pancho Diablo and Cimalon
This mounts keep a sample of the humid tropical forest of the coast with many species since they harbor the main forests in a great state of conservation, 300 meters above the sea level.
Mount Más Vale
The gradual ascension to Mount Más Vale’s highest parts makes the observation of the flora and fauna of the reserve possible, and in company of howler monkeys. On the north end of the Mount you can see a hidden cascade that is 30 meters tall.
Zoo "El Pantanal"
“El Pantanal” Zoo its located at 15 minutes from downtown. A very interesting visit for those who love nature, its flora and fauna. It’s a 31 hectares hour and a half walk, that students and visitors can take with a guide. There are more than a 100 species of flora and fauna. The main function of this Zoo is the reproduction of wild animals, that are endangered, once this is accomplished their set free to their natural habitat.
Jambeli farm is located in Balao Chico 90 minutes from Guayaquil. Jambeli is found near the foothills of Molleturo, which is part of the Andes Oriental Mountain Range, and is adjacent to more than 1,200 hectares of mangrove that border Jambeli Channel, from where the farm takes its name. Visitors can experience one of the most complete ranches on the coast, being its main attraction our wildlife rescue center, the Jambelí Ecological Rescue Foundation where endangered species are taken care of and reproduced. The most representative species are the crocodile and the spider monkey, as well as the parrot. Other activities include visits to cocoa and banana plantations, Beef and Dairy cattle and shrimp pools. Finally, limiting the ranch, there are about 1000 hectares of swamp forest, which is the habitat of a great diversity of species, and allows for interesting birdwatching. A few minutes in the opposite direction of Balao Chico, we can find a Shuar community. This community offers thermal pools that emanate naturally from the mountain; the temperature is 26 degrees Celsius.
There are two main zones with life:
- Dry tropical forest
- Extremely dry tropical forest, unique on the planet.
The vegetation is typical of a clear forest, thickets, and herbs. The original vegetation is made out of trees like balsam, black wood. Species like “guachapelí”, “bototillo”, “barbasco”, “cascol”, “malva” “algarrobo”, “uña de gato”, oaks, and the ceibo tree are worth of admiration.
There are over 160 species of birds, with the most common being the “Aboricola” duck, the white stork, the pelican, swallows, frigate, sparrows, goldfinches, parakeets and more.
The woods have deers, jaguars, monkeys, possums, racoons and bats among other species.
Hacienda Rodeo Grande
Rodeo Grande is a tropical farm of 3.000 acres, at only 10 metres above sea level, situated 90 Km. from Guayaquil ( 1 ½ hours by car/bus). The tour includes a look at the 1400 cattle and 100 buffalos, managed in the traditional way by cowboys on horseback. Guests may ride too, which is by far, the best way to see the farm. We will show you how bananas are grown and packed; and, of course, serve a delicious "criollo" lunch in our lovely farm house.
Hacienda Cañas - The Cacao´s Route
For more than 400 hundred years the destiny of Ecuador and its population has been connected to the cocoa activity. This famous farm that still maintains the traditionals techniques to produce, the most famous cocoa of the world for its unique flavour and aroma, becoming the indispensable component of the finest chocolates around the world.
Located 1 hour from Guayaquil and has an extension of 550 hectares (1375 acres) of cocoa, banana and black pepper plantations. Visitors can see the cocoa and banana planting areas where the history is explained as well as the production and harvesting processes of the most important crops of the country. Later we can observe the biggest "Cocoa Nursery" in the country where 500.000 clonal cocoa plants are produced every year.
Surrounded by a beautiful environment of tropical vegetation, rivers and birds of different species, the Hacienda Cañas has excellent facilities. In our comfortable restaurant hut we offer a personalized attention with typical food from the region and the famous "Cocoa Juice". During lunch time a folkloric dance group can be presented with music and dances from the region. A "cock fight" at he hacienda coliseum is an optional attraction of great tradition.
Communities and villages
Santa Elena Peninsula
Here we find the Baños de San Vicente thermal baths with medicinal waters of volcanic origin. You can enjoy a massage with medicinal clay, Aloe Vera as well as a full sauna treatment in these natural waters.
There is also a archaeological site museum called "The Amantes de Sumpa" (The Lovers of Sumpa) shows the origin and customs of the inhabitants of the Península. Whistles, flutes, figures, tools and a variety of adornments made of shell and metal you will be able to find in this place that shows their traditions and cultural customs.
Toquilla straw is processed for the later weaving of hats (aka. Panama hats). Visitors get to see the processing of the palm into straw and learn about the whole process from cutting of the palm.
The community dives for mother of pearl and makes souvenirs from this noble material. Visitors see the whole processing of the pearls and the hand carving into unique figures with marine motifs.
The Valdivia community is also skilled in ceramic work, they use two types of clay: red and grey, brought from diferent corners of the country. After processing the clay they make replicas of the ancient figures elaborated by their ancestors. Perhaps one of the first tribes in the Americas to work with ceramics 5000 BC. Visitors to Valdivia also get to see sand stone sculpting and the making of artistic figures by hand carving stones brought from nearby Rio Blanco.
The community has a small museum with a small aquarium with local species. The museum has archaeological pieces from the first ihabitants of Ecuador, pieces form the Chorrera culture and scale models to explain how their ancestors lived.
The ancestral traditions of working ceramic is kept alive with the elaboration of small clay canoes.
This community is well known for its craftwork in making leather hats and horseback riding seats. As the horse is the main means of transport offroad in this area. One of the area’s greatest traditions is lived out in the village of Salitre, 45 km from Guayaquil. Here you can watch the coastal farmers’ rodeo and admire their horseriding skills.
This town offers the best alternative to purchase Montecristi hats (aka. Panama hats) they also make hammocks from Mocora vegetable fiber.
Capeira Scientific Research Center
With an area of over 2,471 hectares, Capeira Scientific Research Center, which is centrally located just a few miles from Guayaquil, is characterized by its tropical dry forest, which is home to approximately 150 identified species of flora and fauna.
Babahoyo, Los Ríos Province capital, is flanked by two rivers, the San Pablo and the Caracol, which join to form the Babahoyo river which, in turn, flows into the Guayas River, eventually ending in the sea. One of the most interesting excursions that the area offers is sailing down the Babahoyo, taking in the countryside and the traditional lifestyle of the area's campesinos who live off of the land, sowing crops and raising cattle. One feature of this journey that is sure to catch your eye will be the floating houses unique to the area. Another interesting sight is that of the house of Olmedo, a famous writer who penned the "Canto a Bolívar". Noteworthy attractions of the capital itself include the verdant gardens of Parque 24 de Mayo and the city's main cathedral, which is decorated with an enormous mosaic mural depicting the Virgin Mary. Another impressive sight is that of Vinces (a.k.a. Little Paris). This district, with its well-preserved colonial mansions once belonging to wealthy cocoa merchants, is a charming relic of days gone by.
One of Babahoyo’s more notable attractions is a natural spring known as the “Miraculous Waterfall”. Located roughly 35 km outside of Babahoyo, this cascading falls is said to have many medicinal properties.
Río Palenque Scientific Research Center - Plants, Birds, and Virgin Rain Forest
The 247-hectare Río Palenque Scientific Research Center protects a tropical rain forest containing an amazing wealth of biodiversity. Within the Center, there are 1,216 species of plants, 360 species of birds, and 350 unique species of butterflies, among others. The Center can comfortably accommodate 26 people and also contains an extensive library.
Pedro Franco Dávila Biological Research Center (Juaneche)
The province of Los Ríos is home to 321 hectares of tropical rain forest. Among other natural resources and wonders, this area hosts 723 identified species of vascular plants and 231 epiphytes. There are various facilities available here to visitors. The center is looked after by The University of Guayaquil’s Natural Sciences Department.
General Villamil Playas
From Playas beach you can visit El Morro Port, you can watch the dolphins, visit the town of Posorja a small fishing town north of the Gulf of Guayaquil. There are mangrove forests nearby with estaury fauna, Bufer dolphins who are present all year round and offer what many call "the dolphins dance".
There is a wave breaker so the beach is calm, there is modern infrastructure that constrasts with the artisan fisherman and their small huts. UNESCO declared this location as to have the second best climate in the world.
In this zone, you can also find the island of the Birds (Isla de los Pájaros), where there exist a variety of birds.
Beautiful beach with a yacht club. Turqoise waters and calm seas allow for the practice of water sports. Sport fishing cruises are available, a world renowned site for capturing tuna, swordfish and blue marlins.
Its beaches are very wide and long, and the sea is the most calm at this part of the coast. An ideal visit with the kids. The night-life entertainment has always new things to offer, and has a variety of bars and discotheques for all the taste.
From June through September it is possible to see humpback whales that come to the warm equatorial waters to mate. It is possible to take a small boat cruise to see these gracious sea mammals.
It is located at 55 Kms. At the north of Salinas, just beside the population of Manglaralto. Is one of the favorite spots for the surfers and foreigners. The waves that are made in here are famous among the ecuadorian surfers, some of them had reached up to the 3 meters of height, that’s the reason, why in this spot often organizes several national and international surf championships.
The beach parties and beauty events that are organize, concentrate a great number of national and international visitors. Montañita has made itself famous for its nocturnal activity, most of all every weekend and festive days, when the multiple bars that are located all along the beach are filled with young people that come from the nearest places to have fun till the morning.
The beach of Punta Carnero is located at the south of Salinas. Being a very wide beach, it is not appropriate for swimmers, unless you want to take a sun bath. The surfers visit this beach to practice their sport. One of the activities that happen in Punta Carnero and Mar Bravo is to see the sunset, and it is custom to make a wish when the sun touches the sea.
Visitors can enjoy wonderful weather, good food, and one the most beautiful beaches. This beach spot located at 20 minutes from Salinas and 5 minutes from La Libertad is useful for those who wish to find a little rest, after the noise of the city. It is a very calm beach, in which basically the only activities that are found are such as walks, several sports, take some sun, among others. There are no bars or a disco, that’s why it is an ideal place for resting and enjoy the nature. In the center of Ballenita you can acquire arts and crafts elaborated by the capable hands of the settlers.
It has a wide beach, which it shows the beauty of the ocean, the sea here is also very calm. The sanctuary of the Virgen of Olón is an ideal place for the tourists to be able to watch the beach; it is located on top of the hill and has the shape of a ship. It has a chapel on the open that has various religious images built on wood and gardens with multicolor flowers that surround the place. Over a wall of stone and cover by a large shell is the Inmaculated Heart of Maria.
Near the beach, you will be able to find several restaurants in which you can enjoy different types of sea food. Just as some other communities have their specialties, this one is dedicated to fishing and diving, because of being so close of the island of El Pelado, favorite place for whom loves to practice this activity. Through the left side of the town, passing the Hosteria Cumbres de Ayangue, is located Playa Rosada (Pink Beach), in which the sand has a pink tone acquired from coral.
The perfect place to rest, this is the main characteristic of this small commune, where it reins the quietness. This beach is mainly preferred to rest and admire the beauty of its sunsets. From here you can reach the beach of Montañita walking it off, if the tide is low; or visit the Olón Sanctuary on the top of the cove. For those interested in sharing time with the community you can stay in the houses of the settlers that have been prepared to accommodate tourists