This isn’t somewhere that gets a lot of tourist traffic, but those that make it are rewarded with forests to trek, dinky fishing villages to explore, and beautiful beaches to loaf about on. It’s a perfect palate cleanser if you’re hopping from the Andes to the Galápagos, with Machalilla National Park and its rich biodiversity. See rare white-tailed deer, howler monkeys and abundant birdlife in the forests, or spend your days by, in or under the water.
When to go
The coast can get much warmer than the highlands, and December to April are a good time to visit, with clear blue skies, some showers and temperatures in the high 20s centigrade. May to November can be cool and grey.
PlanesEloy Alfaro International Airport (www.aeropuertomanta.com) is the main hub here. European flights connect via Quito and there are direct links from major US airports.
AutomobilesIf you hire a car, get a good GPS, as signage is sparse.