The Pumping Party Scene In Montañita, Ecuador – Who’d Have Thought It?
Dave and I have been on the road for approximately six weeks now, the majority of which has been filled with sightseeing, lessons in culture and history, and day tours to incredible locations throughout Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Colombia and Ecuador. It’s now the start of Halloween weekend, and as we leave the quiet town of Puerto López by local bus, we are more than ready to party for a few days at the coastal town of Montañita, in Ecuador.
We’re on our way just a couple of hours south, to a place renowned for two things; surfing and partying. It’s called Montañita and this weekend, in particular, it’s bound to be busy due to two public holidays occurring directly after Halloween. In fact, the majority of travellers we’ve met in the country will be basing themselves here for the weekend.
We arrive in the afternoon and attempt to find our hostel. It’s called Esperanto Hostel and is situated just one block from the beach. I’m pleasantly surprised to find that Montañita is well built up with independent and modern-looking restaurants, bars, boutique clothing stores and hostels. There are three blocks that buzz with people and it’s a real mix of foreigners and locals alike, with a large number of hippies manning street stalls full of handmade jewellery.
We walk the streets following the directions our hostel gives online, but they’re pretty vague and within five minutes we’re lost. It’s lunchtime, we’re hungry, our bags are heavy, plus it’s an overcast yet hot twenty-five degrees. For these reasons we duck into a large restaurant called Ibiza, to refuel and use their Wifi signal. It’s overlooking the beach so it’s fairly pricey but the food is delicious and we’ve not had a proper, sit-down meal for a few days.
Feeling bloated and sluggish from our large lunches we eventually find the hostel with the help of GPS and Dave’s good sense of direction (mine is terrible). We check in to a lovely, clean four-bed dorm, with a small balcony and sliding mosquito-proof doors, that allow the sound of the ocean to fill the room. The hostel also has a rooftop terrace, complete with hammocks, so after a brief walk around to get our bearings straight and an hour sat on the sand watching surfers ride the decently large waves, this is where we spend our afternoon.
The evening is the first in a long time I actually put on makeup and blow-dry my hair, ready for a night on the town. From our dorm, we can hear the competing bass pounding from the handful of bars and clubs that line the beach. The atmosphere is brilliant. After a beer in the hostel, we start our night on the popular ‘Cocktail Street’, which is basically a narrow alley that joins the first block with the sandy beachfront.
Cocktail Street is filled with wooden stands displaying every type of alcohol you could desire and is manned by Ecuadorians that call you to visit them over their competitors. Each has its own set of tables and chairs directly outside the stand and house music blares from all directions. Dave and I are wooed by one particular guy who promises us amazing cocktails made from real Baileys and Jack Daniels. We sit and drink the admittedly delicious but expensive cocktails, taking in our surroundings. For me, Montañita resembles a mix of the touristic island of Koh Phi Phi in Thailand, and popular European party spot, Ibiza – I love it!
After a while, we spot the three Irish lads we first met in Quito, so join them and a few other travellers in the nearby Caña Bar & Grill. There’s a local band playing and the bar floor is simply sand, so we all dance barefoot through the night, moving only to venture down to the beach occasionally for a sit-down and a chat.
The next day is Halloween and Dave and I are suitably hungover. We make it up reasonably early despite this and join pretty much every other backpacker in town to watch the Rugby World Cup Final, between Australia and New Zealand. We’re Oz supporters, as this is where we’d like to live and work in the coming years, but as I’m sure you know Australia lose – it’s a bit of an anti-climax. The rest of the day is spent eating, sleeping and recovering, ready for round two of partying in the evening. We’d like to surf, but the waves don’t amount to much until fairly late in the afternoon and the sun is already low in the sky.
Instead, we start the night’s antics in the hostel our friends are staying at, hearing unbelievable facts from a fellow traveller who lives in Venezuela, about her life and the realities of living in such a dangerous country; for example, due to rations, residents can only buy ketchup on the day of the week that coincides with the first number on their passport e.g. 5 equals Friday. Mental!
Halloween night is spent in basically the same way as the previous, in Caña Bar and Grill and on the beach, this time with some Australian friends we met in Colombia. I wish I had some more culturally satisfying and inspirational details to share with you, but as I mentioned, Montañita is all about the party! In fact, Sunday is spent with the both of us extremely hungover and me sounding like Barry White as I lose my voice due to excessive alcohol and singing.
Despite our waning energy levels and desire to keep drinking, our final night in Montañita is spent celebrating full moon at the aptly named ‘Full Moon Party’. Again, similarities with Thailand spring to mind, with the organisers demonstrating fire poi and lighting a huge sign on the sand.
There’s a good group of us out tonight and we party till the early hours of the morning in a bar right on the beach that also uses sand for the floor. Unfortunately, at around 2.00am Dave and I have to use all our self-restraint to pull ourselves away, as we have to catch a 7.00am bus to Peru in the morning!
Grabbing a couple of chicken-filled empanadas from a street stand on the way back to our hostel, we get a few hour’s kip before the eleven-hour journey ahead of us. Our next stop is the northern town of Mancora in Peru and as per usual, we’re both sad to leave our current country, and excited to get to know a new one. To read about my verdict of whether Ecuador is worth your wanderlust, or learn more about the other countries I visit, sign up to the blog!