RealWorld Guide to Atacames Beach
Way up in the north of Ecuador, lies the beach paradise of Atacames. Sat at the northern end of a horseshoe-shaped bay, what was originally a small fishing village has grown to become THE beach spot for holidaying Quiteños and is increasingly popular with overseas tourists and surfers too.
On summer weekends and at holiday times, Atacames is filled with people from Quito and the surrounding area, all partying fit to burst. The many clubs and bars along the coast road pump out an exhilarating mix of reggaeton, cumbia and merengue - with the odd Bob Marley track thrown in, naturally...
However, outside of these times, and particularly mid-week, Atacames can be much quieter and is a perfect place to just relax on the beach, or at least in a hammock near the beach, possibly with a fruit cocktail or two in hand... Alternatively, you may be looking for something a little more dramatic, and that's where the surfing comes in...
Surfing in Atacames
The surf in Atacames is world-class, and in fact Atacames was home to the ISA World Junior Games in 2009. Atacames itself offers good surf with NW swells for most of the year, but a few kilometres to the south in Estero del Platano you can find some even better waves that are well worth a look.
And if you're prepared to travel a little further afield, then arguably Ecuador's best waves are to be found just a little further to the south in Mompiche. You can easily get there and back from Atacames in a day, and if you do, you'll be rewarded with some of the best surfing on the Pacific coast. It's a left point break with rides of up to 400m and is on one of the most beautiful beaches in Ecuador - highly recommended for anyone who's serious about surfing in Ecuador as part of their holiday.
When to visit Atacames
The weather is warm year-round here, so although you'll see more rain in the first few months of the year, we really wouldn't let that put you off - they're just warm showers and can actually be quite refreshing! If you like things lively then come in the Ecuadorean summer (Dec-Feb) and on a weekend, but outside summer - and especially midweek - things can be really rather quiet, so it just depends on which you prefer...
Getting to Atacames
You can (and people do) get one of the regular coaches between Atacames and Quito, but it's a 5-6 hour journey depending on stops so you may well find it more convenient to fly into the city of Esmeraldas, which is 30km away, and get a taxi from there. You can fly to Esmeraldas from both Guayaquil and Quito, and the flights are cheap and reliable.