Ecuador Surf Tours THE SURF

The coast of Ecuador straddles the equator and bulges into the Pacific to face all directions from which swells can be generated. The south coast faces southwest, the central coast faces west and the north coast faces northwest. Given the curvature of the coastline southern Ecuador has mainly right points, and northern Ecuador mainly left points, an in between there is a healthy mix of beach breaks that can provide anything from backless mutant barrels to thin lipped beauties.

Prime time for Ecuador is January to the end of May, when the weather is best and Ecuador’s coast gets energy from the central and north Pacific, along with anything bubbling up out of the Humboldt Current or even deeper in the Southern Ocean.

Ecuador is colder from June to December, although “cold” is a relative term along the equator. The lowest water temperature in Ecuador is around 73°. The highest is 82° degrees and the average, year-around water temp is 77°. The north swells fade to almost nothing by mid April, but the Southern Hemisphere swells turn on, flooding the south-facing beaches with raw energy.

Mainland Ecuador divides into three surfing areas: The south coast is 65 miles of southwest-facing beaches and points, between Faro de Chocotea in the northwest to Posorja in the southeast. In between there are 10 point breaks that range from beginner-friendly to Black Diamond, and many miles of open beach. In the middle of this coast, Playas has seven right points that are all connected and accessible by walking up the point at low tide from the town of Playas. Some of the points will have multiple tube sections depending on the swell angle, sand fill, and winds. At the north end of this southwest-facing stretch of coast, one can find the heaviest wave mainland Ecuador has to offer. Very deep water meets the shallowsand banks of Punta Carnero/Ecuasal beaches. When presented with a WNW swell and good winds one can count on heavy barrels and a good possibility of snapping your board.  On the other side of the peninsula of Salinas there is Shit Bay a grinding, tubing left that is kinda fickle, but all time when a huge south swell combines with a very low tide. Access is primarily by boat as the coast along here is controlled by a military base.

All of this south coast faces southwest toward the Swell Machine Also Known as the Southern Ocean.

The “Central Coast” of mainland Ecuador is the 100+ miles of coastline from Salinas in the south to San Mateo in the north. In the middle of this is Montanita – the Surf City of Ecuador. This is a backpacker/surfer outpost where the soundtrack is a mix of Grove, Latin Funk, Led Zeppelin and Bob Marley, a surf town that seems to have been forgotten by the 21st Century – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Montanita is also home to one of the best right points in Ecuador.  Montanita is by far the most consistent wave on the coast. It’s a barreling right-hander at low tide, and super fun hot dog wave at high tide. Best on north swells, but also really good on south swells. Best at medium tide, unless the swell direction is just right and then it’s a heavy barrel wave at low tide. Due to its centralized location Montanita is a good place to have as home base. There are a lot of spots and good beach breaks within close range of Montanita, and some of them secret.  The majority of spots around this area take both North and South swells and are surfable at almost any size both low and high tide; so there is always something to surf.
Between Montanita and the town of Manta there is a cluster of spots around the town of Puerto Rico that includes Rio Chico, which is a super left on a very low tide, southwest to west swell and glassy conditions. Puerto Cayo is a world-class beach break with board breaking power and no crowds. It is compared to Puerto Escondido and also known as The Pipeline of Puerto Cayo. It takes both north and south swells; low tides and glassy conditions make it barrel. You could very well ride your step-up, and on big swells you will need it. The best time of year is January through April.

The northern border of the Central Coast is the long, left point at San Mateo – the Chicama of Ecuador  One of the best waves on the continent, San Mateo takes north swells from medium to very large, as big as it gets in Ecuador.

From Salinas to Montanita to San Mateo is an area of the world you probably have never heard of and when you go there and get a taste of the variety of right and left points, reefbreaks and beachbreaks, you will be glad to know that in this crowded world, there are still areas of great surf that have been overlooked by the world.

From San Mateo heading toward the border with Colombia, the coastline makes a dramatic transition from dry desert to wet jungle, and you cross the equator at Coaque. There are a few surf spots that are named, and others yet to be discovered. Close to Bahia de Caraquez, Canoa is a stretch of consistent beachbreaks and La Bellaca is just another semi-world class left point you’ve never heard of.

In the far north, to the south of Esmereldas, Mompiche is one of the best breaks in the country: A very good lefthander with a tubing takeoff over lava rocks and a jungle backdrop. Takes strong north swells and usually has good wind conditions.   There aren’t a lot of named spots in this northern area of Ecuador, but if you look on a map or take the satellite view, there are numerous points on both sides of the equator that seem to be in need of being discovered.

Northern Peru is stretch of coastline from Tumbes near the Ecuadorian boarder to the town of Talara where the coastline makes a bend from facing SW to NW. Being so close to the most westerly point of Peru this region picks up both North and Southwest swells.  There is a variety of breaks including empty beach breaks and rock reefs, but again the best spots are the sand bottom left points like Panic, Cabo Blanco, Lobitos and Moncora.  – There’s something for everybody!