Surfing reigns supreme here, and there are rideable beach breaks up and down the coast. The most popular is the point break formed by a rocky headland at the north end of town. Surf competitions are often held here. The best surfing is December through May, though throughout the year you can find waves that can be big and powerful, accompanied by strong rip tides. Be careful and sure of yourself before heading out. If you want to take a lesson or rent a board, stop in at one of the little surf shops in town, or ask at your hotel. I like Hotel Tiki Limbo (tel. 09/3677-086; For a surf-camp learning package, try Casa del Sol.

Aside from surfing and hanging out on the beach, several hotel tour desks and in-town tour operators offer trips up to Puerto López, from where you can head out to Isla de la Plata to see the whales in season, or visit Machalilla National Park and Los Frailes beach.

While Quito, Cuenca, and Otavalo have more-established Spanish schools, those looking to improve their pronunciation and vocabulary, as well as their bottom turns, can check in with Montañita Spanish School (tel. 09/7585-207;, which offers private and small group lessons, as well as combo study packages with Spanish classes mixed with surfing, paragliding and/or scuba diving lessons. These folks can provide hostel accommodations, or set you up with a local family for a home stay.

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.