349km (217 miles) W of Quito; 442km (275 miles) N of Guayaquil; 30km (19 miles) SW of Esmeraldas

This is my favorite beach destination in Ecuador. Leaving Esmeraldas and heading west, or, more precisely southwest, along the coastline, you'll come to a string of beaches, most of which have broad swaths of white or cream-colored sand fronting a blue-green sea. These beaches run the gamut from bustling tourist resort towns with a jumble of hotels and condos, to isolated getaways with just a few cabins, to secluded secret spots where surfers pitch tents and ride wave after wave.

Just outside Esmeraldas is Tonsupa, a beautiful wide beach that is the fastest-growing destination in the area, which makes sense, as it is so close to the city and airport. A little farther southwest is Atacames, the most developed beach resort town on this coast. The seafront Malecón in Atacames is jam-packed with hotels, bars, restaurants, and shops.

One of the most undeveloped beaches along this coast, Sua is located between two high bluffs, with a handful of fishing boats anchored offshore. Much larger is Same, with its broader beach backed with scores of vacation condos. Many of these condos are whitewashed and set on the surrounding hillside in such a way that Same has a Mediterranean feel. Sua is around 6.5km (4 miles) southwest of Atacames, Same around 13km (8 miles) southwest of Atacames.

Beyond Same lie ever more remote and out-of-the way beaches and small fishing villages, including Tonchigue and Galera. At Galera, the coastline turns and heads south to the isolated little island of Muisne.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.