Non-stop parties, crazy benders and if the conditions are right, you’ll get some pretty gnarly waves in your favour. That was pretty much the conclusion I gathered from reading forums and blog posts on this Ecuadorian beach town prior to my visit.
The town of Montanita had quite the reputation for being a summer destination hotspot for Chilean and Argentine travellers (at least when I was there in Jan 2015). I have to admit, I was a tad nervous. My friends at home know that I love a good party but also know that I love surfing wayyy more. After reading tonnes of material on this beachtown, I was worried that the bass thumping, drunken partiers were going to be a buzz kill (yes, I realize that I sound like the buzz kill right now). In my head, I had imagined a place that was a raunchier version of South Beach. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised!
I stayed at an amazing boutique hotel (aka surf camp) about 15 minutes away from the downtown craziness of Montañita and minutes away from La Punta. Should you want to partake in the debauchery, it was only a stone’s throw away. Needless to say, you can still hear the bass pumping but thank goodness for earplugs. Balsa Surf Camp was unbelievable, I thought I had died and gone to Island Heaven.
As soon as you walk on to the grounds, you find your moment of zen. Everything is handmade from the Balsa tree and the surf shop is right at the front. The main reception area looks like an island hut, and each other cabanas were decorated differently. A Canadian couple I met, had the most rad room which had their bed inside a 1970’s hippy van. The grounds had stone paths winding and turning to each of the two story cabanas. There was an area for people to chill out in hammocks, a little pond with a turtle that sunbathes all day, a yoga/meditation area and of course, a spa.
My room was heaven – it was like they had known exactly what I wanted. Beautiful king size bed with mosquito netting, two balconies (one with a hammock to look at the lush green grounds and another small balcony to look out to the beach), and a rainfall shower. Simply amazing. Logistically, they were super efficient to coordinate my surf lessons, spa times and even, meals. If you’re there, try their shrimp linguine (delish).
On the Galapagos, I had met a friend from Germany who was living with a local family in Montañita as she was studying Spanish. I had a great time checking out the local sites and of course, having a cocktail on “Calle de Los Cocteles” which is a street lined of stands full of alcohol and across the street from the clubs. T was an amazing guide for my short time in Montañita.
Traveller tip? You never know who you cross paths with again so keep an open mind when travelling! T made my trip that much better as I got to practice spanish, chill with a friend and play with her host family’s dog at the beach. On top of that, we got to try the most delicious sushi place I have ever had in Latin America.
There was no doubt in my mind that surfing sessions were in absolute need and I was amped to score morning and afternoon seessions. Yep, I’m crazy and I was exhausted. Thank goodness for the massage, that ended up saving my body a lot of aches!
I think surfing by La Punta and even going further out to Olón is your better bet. I quite liked where I was, it wasn’t infested with tourists. More of a local vibe, and the surfers were all pretty chill. If you get out early enough, you can catch the morning riders at La Punta which is definitely worth watching.
There’s no doubt in my mind that I will be coming back to Balsa Surf Camp. I’ve recommended this place to everyone I know who needs time away, to really chill out. I have to say that this surf camp beats Costa Rica. The only downfall that I had was talking to sketchy taxi drivers from Guayaquil airport. I would highly recommend you brush up on your Spanish because you may get hustled if you’re taking care of transportation yourself. Otherwise, contact Julie & Rusty at Balsa Surf Camp. They have packages inclusive of meals and transportation; why make your time in paradise a logistical nightmare when they can take care of it for you?
Whether you surf, party or want to chill out… Montañita has something for everyone. I highly recommend staying by La Punta, so that you are in control of the amount of nightlife you want to partake in.