The coastal city of Manta also serves Ecuador’s most popular beach location. Ecuadorians make the drive up the coast from Guayaquil, while a hardy group of tourists also make the trip to this party town. Especially in the holiday months this town bustles with activity. The beaches fill draw hundreds each day in the summer and on a windy day the skies fill with the site of kites strapped to surfers below. This isn’t the place to go if you’re looking for a quite beach getaway. If you’re looking for something of that sort then you are better off heading further north to small towns like Canoa. However, if you are looking for a couple nights of exciting nightlife, busy beaches and maybe a culturally visit to nearby Montecristo this is a place well worth stopping in at for a couple days.
Time Needed: 2-3 days
Budget: 35-45$ a day
Basically, Manta is divided into two by the Rio Manta. Most tourists stay right in town, however, some chose to stay in the must lower budget attached town of Tarqui. Personally, I recommend to stay in Manta since you will be much more likely to be pick-pocketed or put in harms way in the area of Tarqui, especially after dark. The best beaches are found to the north of town and are easily accessible by taxi or collectivo bus.
Since this is a tourist town there are internet cafes seemingly on every corner. However, don’t be surprised if the internet you find at the cafes is frustratingly slow. There are a couple internet cafes on avenida 3 and they charge around 1US$ per hour.
Banking is not a problem in Manta as the town is quite commercially oriented. There is a Banco Pacifico on the corner of avenida 2 and calle 13.
For the most part Manta is safe, and much safer than Guayaquil. However, at night there can be a number of pickpockets that roam the streets. If travelling around at night alone be sure to take a taxi. If you are travelling in groups a taxi wont be as necessary, but still be weary of dangerous situations. Taxis are so cheap though it seems silly not to take a cab after dark regardless.
Things to do in Manta
- Montecristo: Just a short collectivo or taxi ride from Manta sits the tiny town of Montecristo which is famous for producing the highest quality “Panama Hats” in the world. Head to the markets of town and visit some of the manufacturers. The hats here sell for between 7US$ and 100US$ depending on the quality.
- Museo del Banco Central: This is actually a very interesting museum that features a wealth of Pre-Colombian artwork and defines much of the natural history of the area.
- The Beach: The beach in town is busy, and on holidays chaotic. The best beach to visit is Playa Murcielago which is just north of town. You’ll find some waves here, plenty of sand, and some gift shops and restaurants that line the borders of the beach.
Where to Eat in Manta
- Trosky Burguer: This is perhaps the most popular gringo lunch spot, with a surf vibe. There are well sized burgers here that sell for fairly cheap. A great place to grab lunch.
- Mantai: On Calle 20 Mantai is a great place to grab dinner if you want to sit outside. Mantai has a great atmosphere, good music, and is open late.
- Lun Fun: If you’re craving good Chinese food you’ll find it here at Lun Fun which sits on Calle 2.
Where to Stay in Manta
At the time of writing there weren’t all too many cheap and comfortable options for sleeping in Manta. Of course, if you are strapped for cash you can head to Tarqui, however it is much shadier. In Manta there are a couple options, but will cost you a little:
- Kitesurf hostel: This is the cream of the crop in Manta, a great location and very nice rooms. The price of single room is about 25US$
- Hotel Macadamia: This small and cozy guesthouse is family run and well kept. You can find a private room here for about 20US$.
Getting out of Town
Manta is fairly well connected to the rest of Ecuador. Buses leave from the main terminal regularly for Quito (8hrs) and Guayquil (4hrs). You can also get to Ambato (10hrs), with connections on to Banos (11hrs), a couple of time a day.
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