Few that visit Ecuador come solely to see the beach, however, those who find themselves with time to head to the coast will find that the region boasts some of the world’s most diverse rain forests and cloud forests, uncrowded beaches, tiny fishing villages, the ruins of ancient civilizations, and a cultural richness much different than the other regions of Ecuador.
The Northern Coast, which is filled with lush green vegetation, is considerably closer to Quito than the cities of the Southern Coast. In addition to this, the drive to the beach goes past some fascinating cities. Mindo, for instance, is internationally renowned for its bird watching. Santo Domingo is a sprawling transportation hub which itself is nothing spectacular, but nearby indigenous sites prove to be very interesting.
Popular destinations on the actual coast include Atacames, which is known for its lively nightlife and Canoa, which has a really chill surfer scene, spectacular sunsets over the ocean and some phenomenal cuisine. If you want surf and sun without the crowds, Mompiche is an excellent choice, offering big waves, beautiful beaches and an ultra-relaxed atmosphere. The larger cities of the area, such as Esmeraldas and Manta are less popular with visitors, mainly due to their dirty industrial feel, but serve as highly important starting points for many travelers due to their airports and bus terminals.