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Getting There

By Plane -- The nearest airport to these beaches is in Esmeraldas. There are always taxis waiting for incoming flights. A taxi from the airport in Esmeraldas costs about $20 to $30 (£13-£20).

By Bus -- Transportes Esmeraldas (tel. 02/2505-099 in Quito, or 06/2721-381 in Esmeraldas) buses leave from Quito for Atacames roughly every hour between 7am and 11pm, with sporadic but less frequent service during off hours. The 6 1/2-hour trip costs $5 to $8 (£3.35-£5.35). About half of Transportes Esmeraldas buses leave from the main bus terminal in Quito (Terminal Terrestre), with the rest leaving from Esmeraldas's own terminal, on Calle Santa María 870 and Avenida 9 de Octubre. While not a hard and fast rule, the departure site alternates pretty much one-for-one throughout the day. Your best bet is to call Transportes Esmeraldas to confirm the schedule before leaving. The bus stops in Atacames are all near the main park and Catholic church, east of the main bridge.

Local buses run between Atacames and Esmeraldas roughly every 20 minutes between 6am and 10pm. Those between Esmeraldas and destinations farther down the coast also leave consistently throughout the day. These buses stop in Atacames, Sua, Same, Tonchigue, and Muisne. Some continue on to Mompiche.

By Car -- To reach Atacames and the surrounding beaches, follow the directions to Esmeraldas. On the outskirts of the city of Esmeraldas, you will see a well-marked exit for the coastal road that passes by Atacames, Same, Sua, and Muisne.

Getting Around

You'll have no trouble flagging down a taxi or one of the open-air motorcycle-powered cabs in Atacames. You can also call Taxis Alfa Omega (tel. 06/2760-710). Taxis to the neighboring beaches cost $6 to $12 each way (£4-£8). If you do get a ride to one of the neighboring beaches, it's a wise idea to arrange a specific pickup for your return trip.

Orientation

The town of Atacames is divided into sections by the curving Río Atacames, which enters the town as a narrow river but broadens considerably as it flows parallel to the ocean, toward the north end of town, before finally joining the sea. The main coastal highway runs through the center of Atacames and then southwest down the coast, with well-marked turnoffs for all of the other beach towns mentioned here.

Fast Facts -- There's a branch of Banco Pichincha (tel. 06/2731-029) on Calle Cervantes, between calles Montalvo and Espejo. While there's no bank in Same, there is a cash machine in the small convenience store just outside the Club Casablanca hotel. There are a handful of Internet cafes all over Atacames. Just head to the Malecón and pick one that has working air-conditioning and modern-looking equipment. Same and Sua each have one or two little Internet cafes on their main roads, as well.

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.