Translated as “Little Hill,” Montañita has long been a hidden gem in South America. Located on the southern coast of Ecuador, the small town slowly developed a name for itself as a surfing destination. By the 1960s, Montañita became linked to the hippie movement, many of whom left America and settled on the coast.
Ecuador’s official currency is the U.S. dollar, but the low cost of living means your $100 will get you far. As you start your day, stop by one of the many fruit stands around town for a classic Ecuadorean breakfast consisting of bananas, papayas and pineapples for just $1.
Now that the sun is out, this would be a great time to head to the beach. Montañita is a popular surfing destination and a great place to learn if you’ve never tried before. There are surf shops that offer lessons for $25, but to save some cash, try finding a local on the beach. Many of them know how to surf and would love to give you a lesson for as low as $10.
Learning to surf can work up an appetite, so when you spot one of the many ceviche carts strolling the beach, be sure to get yourself a mixto bowl. Ceviche is a popular seafood dish in South America where raw seafood is cured in citrus, chili and seasoning. For $5, you get a mixture of fresh fish, octopus, squid and shrimp that will give the best ceviche back home a run for its money.
There are a variety of activities available for adventure seekers, ranging from bird watching to parasailing. The Point is a small mountain to the north separating Montañita from the neighboring beaches of Olon. Hiking the Point is a popular activity, which offers fishing, horseback riding and excellent views of the ocean. Ecuador’s exotic wildlife can also be seen in the nearby Valdivia Aquarium, where the price of entry is $1.
Montañita truly becomes alive once 10 p.m. hits. Ecuador has traditionally been a conservative country, but this small coastal town is famous for its progressive attitude, earning the name “Little Amsterdam.” There are a countless number of bars, clubs and restaurants offering $2 cocktails and $1.50 burgers, but for an unforgettable experience head to one of Montañita’s infamous full moon parties
While spring break might look vastly different this year than anticipated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's not too early to start planning to do some good with your time next spring break. Consider doing volunteer work over spring break 2021.
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