Photo Essay of Canoa: The Best Beach Town in Ecuador?

Canoa sunset 2

You know what’s nice? Sunsets. And you know what’s even better than sunsets? Sunsets across the ocean, enjoyed from a fine beach, preferably with a cocktail or chilled beer in hand.

During our time in Ecuador, we were privy to some rather fine sunsets, but the only place where we really got our sunset-with-beach-with-cocktail-in-hand vibe on was the laid back beach town of Canoa, about two thirds of the way up the Ecuadorean coastline.

Frigate birds on beach Canoa people standing clouds

Canoa offered us sunsets the likes of which I’ve not seen since leaving New Zealand. Which is saying something, because the sunsets there were pretty darn spectacular.

It also offered a seemingly endless supply of empty beach to wander along, frigate birds that came so close we could almost touch them, and of course, those aforementioned cocktails. Naturally, we stayed as long as we could. And I took a lot of photos:

Canoa sunset 3_scaled

Which I thought you might like in the form of a photo essay. Enjoy!

Streets of Canoa

When it’s sunset time in Canoa – head to the beach. It’s where the best views are. And the bars.

Girl at sunset reflection Canoa Ecuador 2

For optimal sunset viewing, time your visit for when it’s low tide at sunset. That way you get amazing reflections to go with your sunset.

Frigate birds against clouds edit 3

Ah yeah, Canoa was the best place for Frigate bird viewing we visited after the Galapagos. The local fishermen clean their nets in the mornings, and the frigate birds behave like seagulls, diving and fighting for food. Only, three metre wide seagulls. This has to be seen to be believed.

Frigate birds looking at me 2 scaled

They get really close. Like, really really close. Best not experienced if you have a fear of bird with giant sharp beaks.

Sunset canoa children running silhouette_DxO

Yeah, those reflections were pretty epic.

Canoa cliff reflections ecuador

Ok! That was most of them. Extra photo of beach bar further down. To finish off though, I just want to bring up our accommodation in Canoa, which we found after reading a series of reviews online, and was another one of the many reasons we ended up hanging around in Canoa for as long as possible.

Unlike most, we stayed a few blocks back from the beach, at the Hotel Macondo. This meant it was a bit quieter during the party hours (although quiet is a very relative term in Ecuador!). We enjoyed our stay there especially because of the owner, Felix, who went way out of his way to make sure our stay was awesome, from cooking whatever we wanted for dinner and breakfast (the pancakes! the mango salsa coated swordfish steak!), to regaling us with fascinating stories of his life, and providing insights into the local culture.

It cost us $10 per person per night, which included WiFi and hot water, although prices vary based on the season. The hotel also features a roof terrace with the best view in town. Recommended!

Finally, to address the question raised at the start of the post. I have no idea if Canoa is really the best beach town in Ecuador. For us, it was perfect. If you want something with more of a 24 hour party vibe, you’ll probably want Montanita. If you want perfect surf, well, there are umpteen towns up and down the coast vying for that title.

But if you just want to chill out and enjoy a sunset with a cold beer in hand, on streets that are still made of sand, head to Canoa. It’s perfect for that.

canoa beach bar ecuador

Is Canoa the nicest beach town in Ecuador? Who knows. Check out this photo essay and make your own mind up ;)

I often get asked what gear I use for my photos. Check out my full Photography Gear post to find out!

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