Forest, mountains, mangroves, beaches… it seems that this route takes all over Ecuador… but no. We found everything in Manabí! And at no distance from each other. If you are looking for some variety during your outings, you will love this coastal route we traveled with Budget Rent-a-Car. Start planning your visit this 2023!
1) La Boca
We start up north, about forty minutes from Portoviejo. This destination is full of special encounters with amazing nature and delicious cuisine.
Dividing the beaches of Crucita and San Jacinto, the Portoviejo River flows into one of the province’s most important delta ecosystems: La Boca.
Birds of all kinds fly in and out, from mangroves to the beaches, forcing any curious soul to take a boat downriver to see them up close. Herons, sandpipers, ibises, stilts, frigate birds, and pelicans… an explosion of activity all around; and vegetation to match with four types of mangrove species: red, white, black, and jelí…
The nearby village of Las Gilces sets up a delicious lunch overlooking the sea, with fresh seafood and unmistakable Manabí-style cooking. We recommend dishes with locally harvested peanuts (there are many) and a quick visit to the Environmental Interpretation Center.
2) Rural Portoviejo
Portoviejo has been a pleasant surprise during our recent visits to Manabí and we return now to its rural surroundings. In El Tigre, one of Manabí’s highest peaks, you will be amazed by the viewpoint. Chirijos, an agricultural area specializes in coffee, offering visits to coffee plantations: nobody knows coffee beans like them! At Finca Tierra Prometida, William Martillo and his family will be eager to welcome you.
Continue to La Jigua, in San Plácido, a resting spot par excellence, surrounded by bamboo and rivers that transform it into a wonderful oasis. Locals hang hammocks and serve tonga wraps (don’t forget to give it a taste).
You can even spend the night under the stars at Bajo Grande, in Alajuela; you needn’t more than a tent to enjoy its beautiful nature; the site offers food and facilities and a commanding view of Portoviejo. There are trails and waterfalls to discover, as well.
On our way back to the sea, get ready to change environments once again at this tropical forest; a site whose elevation embraces the clouds, collecting water to sustain life in an area affected by drought.
This is a must-stop for nature lovers; with a single trail that takes you the main attraction: howler monkeys. These are almost always present and quite active. You can continue your walk down a river in the heart of this humid forest where impressive roots of ancient trees cling to the stone and form sculptural natural landmarks. The local guides will tell you all about the abundance of medicinal plants and the natural history of the protected area, where a small population resides of the Esmeraldas Woodstar, the world’s second smallest bird.
Once in the Pacoche area, it makes sense to finish your travels at this hidden cove. A quiet and well-preserved site that actually holds remains from the pre-Columbian Manteña culture.
Located right in front of the sea, we find the mountain that ‘hides’ this beach where remnants of ancestral livelihoods lie in plain sight. Among other vestiges of its long archaeological history, we find the ‘Ligüiqui corrals’ which reveal ancient fishing systems, that remain upright to this day, using huge stones to trap their prey.
You can set your tent up along the peaceful shores. When it comes to eating, there is little to choose from, but don’t worry, at Corales Marinos JR you will find a wide variety of seafood delicacies, including the octopus “bandera”, or platter, an emblematic dish with seven octopus dishes in one!
An unforgettable way to end our route and continue along seeking out more Manabí treasures.
Photos: Andrés Molestina G. / Carlos Puga
Address: Av. De La Coruna N28-14 y Manuel Iturrey, Quito, 170517, Ecuador
Phone: (+593) 023822340
Service hours: Sun 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM; Mon – Fri 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM; Sat 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM