One such province, I decided to visit was Manabi. A district famous for its beautiful beaches, abundance of natural resources and the local delicacies. The capital city of Manabi is Portoviejo, but there are other areas of Manabi which are way more famous and preferred by the tourists visiting.
The reasons being the popular beaches, good accommodation and lots of activities to spend ones time. The famous cities of Manabi are Canoa, Manta, Santa Marianita, Bahia de Caraquez,Puerto Lopez and Las Tunas.
I decided to spend my weekend exploring the much talked about city of Manabi- MANTA. If time permitted, I would further go to Santa Marianita Beach, which is around 20 km away from Manta.
The city of Manta is a very touristy destination with beautiful(but crowded) beaches, lots of amazing restaurants and great nightlife.
When deciding where you are going to stay , I suggest prebook online as the place gets crowded on weekends with locals and tourists rushing to get some tan on the Manta beaches. Some great options for staying would be Hotel Balandra, Hotel Oro Verde(expensive), Hotel MantaHost or you can opt for hostals(Hostal Antares, Rosa Mar etc) which are cheaper yet comfortable. These hostals offer private rooms with bathrooms and are usually is a family-run place, thus ensuring that you are well looked after.
Manabi lies to the south of Guayas(province with Guayaquil as the capital), and it takes around 7 hours by bus and 5 hours by a car to reach Manta from Guayaquil. Bus tickets will cost you around USD 15(higher if you choose a more expensive bus line).I decided to opt for the bus as I had planned to leave early in the morning, so that I could reach by lunch time. This would give me enough time to catch some sleep, so as to be fresh to explore Manta when I reached.
The drive is beautiful, and the one unique thing I noticed were the trees. All of them looked to be carved to perfection and seemed to be drywood pieces that you would want to take home and use as decoration. You have to see it to believe it.
Anyways, so around 2 pm, I found myself getting off at the Manabi bus terminal. For a change, I had not booked my hotel/hostal in advance and so as soon as I was in the taxi, I told the driver to take me to the area with the best ocean view and with plentiful hotels to choose from. He did just that. He dropped me in front of Hotel Balandra(Av 7, Manta) which was facing the most popular beach of Manta- Playa del Murciélago (Spanish for “bat”).
The hotel was beautiful but turned out to be a little costlier for my budget(USD 150 per night). And so i started walking around. Right behind Balandra, I found the perfect place- Hostal Yara Maria. Yup, as soon as I saw the rooms, I was sold. It was adequately small, clean, reasonable(USD 50 for a night) and had a good feel to it.
Wasting no more time, after checking in and leaving my stuff, I found myself walking towards the beach. Sea food by the beach was just what I wanted and all that I could think about.
Playa del Murciélago happens to be a very popular and thus a crowded place. There are a number of beach shacks which will attract you to them instantly with the heavenly sea food aroma rising out their straw roofs. I entered one such shack and quickly ordered my garlic prawns with mashed potatoes and rice and of course a glass of Pina Colada. Bliss…..
I hung around the shack for almost an hour, sipping my cocktail, eating my yum food and simultaneously enjoying the surroundings. After I was done, I decided to hit the beach and catch a wink in the perfect weather with the perfect sunlight.
Exactly my predicament at the moment when I realized that it was already 5 pm and if I had to walk around the city a bit, I should be making a move. So after a lot of self convincing, I got off my backside and started walking towards the main road. I walked and walked and walked. For about 45 minutes, I went from one street to another, seeing the adorable houses, the parks, the shops etc. After a while I reached a mall(I think it was suppose to be a mall but in my definition wasn’t one), and decided to treat myself with an ice cream. My defense for all the calories I intake- “Come on, it’s okay. It’s a HOLIDAY“. The problem is that my holiday never ends, and neither does the calorie filled food ;).
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