After Vilcabamba it was finally time to hit the coast and get some sun. Unfortunately there is no direct way to the coast. We caught a 45 minute shared taxi ride to Loja for $2 pp and then caught the 8hr 10:00 direct bus to Guayaquil for $12. The Guayaquil bus station was amazing, it’s three floors, has a shopping mall and grocery store, and was as busy as the Atlanta airport. There were literally hundreds of busses, the largest bus station I’ve ever seen. Guayaquil is a port town and doesn’t have a whole lot going on for tourists other than a nice malecón from what I heard, plus a lot of areas there are known to be dangerous and a good place to get robbed. After our long bus trip we decided to get a hotel for the night and head out to the coast in the morning. You can’t catch a bus straight to Salinas, instead you must go to Santa Elena and then catch the local bus into Salinas. All that was quite easy and cost about $4 a person.
Our first impression of Salinas was underwhelming, we had to wade across the flooded street to our beach front hostel. Then when we got to the hostel(Chescos) they were in the middle of sledgehammering walls down, which would continue every day from 8 to 5. They then showed us to our room which looked absolutely nothing like what the were advertising, plus it smelled. At this point we would have usually just left to check out another place but for whatever reason we decided to book in advance this time, which we almost never do. So…we were stuck. We got them to switch us to another room that was larger but still nothing like what we reserved, it was clean and didn’t smell at least, unfortunately that night it started to leak like a sieve from the ceiling and we had to switch rooms again. This one was decent too but we didn’t have any hot water and of course the wi-fi worked nowhere except for the lobby. Needless to say I don’t recommend the place. Their only saving grace was porch with a beautiful view looking directly out on the beach and a location central to town.
The next day we decided to go check out “La Chocolatera” the most western point of mainland Ecuador. To get there you can catch a bus to the naval base and then take a taxi the rest of the way. The point itself is incredibly beautiful and there is a trail up to an overlook where you can see the town on one side and the point on the other. There are some very nice clean tiled restrooms at the overlook, unfortunately some local teenagers decided the woman’s bathroom would be their “love shack” and were quite loud about it. So Victoria used the men’s bathroom, this drew the attention of the park rangers who checked it out and all came back cracking up. I’m sure they got a standing ovation when they finally came out, lol. There is also another mile long path that takes you to another point where there are lobos del mar(sea lions) hanging out. It was a great walk altogether and I’d highly recommended it but make sure you bring plenty of water. If the sun is out, it’s blazing hot. On the way back we just had to flag down one of the taxis dropping other people off, it cost $1.50.
The next day we decided it would be a beach day and after hanging out on the porch and having breakfast and conversation with some cool Canadians(punctuated by sledgehammering or course) we rented some chairs and an umbrella($4 for the day). The touts were out in full force as they seem to be at any popular beach in the world. Despite that it was very nice and the water was a perfect 85 degrees or so, warm enough to swim as long as you like but not so warm that you feel like you’re still sweating in the water.
There is an abundance of seafood restaurants on the strip and every one we ate at was delicious. The cost of food here was 50 to 100% more expensive than elsewhere so it was nice our hostel had a full kitchen(even if you had to dodge painters to use it).
This was obviously a popular weekend choice for Guayaquileans so we were looking forward to heading to a smaller, less touristy coastal town, up next Puerto López!