The mid-Pacific coastline of Ecuador around Manta is a great way to unwind at the end of a trip, although it cannot be considered a traditional beach destination. The area offers plenty of nature-oriented excursions and is a quieter alternative to the faraway Galapagos Islands.
The city of Bahía de Caráquez, north of Manta, is a good base from which to explore the Isla Corazon mangrove forest and its colonies of frigate birds, tropical dry forests and the bird-watching paradise of La Segua wetlands.
To the south of Manta are Puerto Lopez and Machalilla National Park, which feature remote beaches, the Agua Blanca pre-Columbian archaeological site, tropical dry forest and cloud forest where howler monkeys and collared peccaries can be spotted.
Offshore is the Isla de la Plata, home to coral reefs, colonies of seabirds (including frigates, blue- and red-footed boobies and albatrosses), sea lions and dolphins. From mid-June to early October the biggest attraction is undoubtedly the humpback whales that come to breed in the coastal waters. Whale-watching excursions can be arranged from Bahía de Caráquez and Puerto Lopez.
Explore Coastal Ecuador
Click on your destination of interest
The latest from Compass - our online travel magazine
"I would like to thank the travel advisor, Jonathan Fitzsimmonds for his patience, help and advice during the booking process. We were rather late in trying to arrange everything and I think we presented him with quite a challenge! He rose to it brilliantly. Almost every aspect of the holiday went like clockwork and we had a wonderful time. I think we were quite lucky to get an experienced driver too. His depth of knowledge of the wildlife, and in particular the birds, was invaluable. All in all, a fantastic holiday and we hope to return to Uganda in the not too distant future.
Mrs Lorraine Gardner"
"The friendliness of all the people and the stunning countryside was what most impressed us. The cleanliness of everywhere from train stations to pavements is astounding.
Mr Kevin Garner"
"Seeing two leopards up the same tree with a kill was a magical moment!
Mrs Deborah Godfrey"
"The whole holiday was excellent. I cannot think how you could improve upon the the service...this holiday was one of the best I can recall. Your ground agents at the airport in Amman for our return flight were excellent. They have obviously a great deal of experience and made the check-in procedure effortless.
Mrs Hilary Dunn"
"Our holiday was all we hoped it would be and more - the standard of hotels and itinerary were superb and a credit to Cox & Kings. Your staff in this country were also most helpful and courteous, so again congratulations.
"The phenomenal enthusiasm and knowledge of both our guides, especially Violetta in Moscow who was brilliantly informative, enthusiastic and could not have been better. We also thoroughly appreciated the knowledge of our guide Teddy in St Petersburg.
Mrs Meryl Deane"
"Thanks for all your help in creating a truly memorable holiday.
"Among many, including crossing the walkways at Monteverde in driving rain and a strong wind, the real highspot was the visit to La Selva. We felt privileged visitors, had a superb guide and saw an amazing range of animals and birds within a remarkably short time. If only we had had longer there.
Mr Paul Langridge"
"Registan Square in Samarkand - The sight was so extraordinarily beautiful it took our breath away, and we all stood silent for several minutes, just taking in the scene. I think this site is one of the wonders of the world.
Dr. Eva Simmons"
"This holiday was full of inspirational moments but the visits to Jerash and Petra have to be two of the top experiences one can have anywhere in the world!
Mrs Sheila Musiker"
"The guidance and advice you provided were invaluable. Your choice of locations, itinerary were all spot on. Your efforts in preparing your colleagues for our arrival and your kindness throughout were all fantastic. We truly have returned with the rich taste of both northern and southern India we had hoped we would experience.
"Yogesh, our tour guide really made this holiday for us. He was an excellent guide and he's a huge asset to Cox and Kings. He was very informative about life in India and was extremely knowledgeable. The most inspirational moment of the holiday was visiting the Taj Mahal. Somewhere I've been wanting to visit for years and it was even more magical than I'd expected.
Ms Julie Cuming"
"To all your staff and those of your associates in Peru a very big and heartfelt thank you. The professionalism, support and guidance given throughout our tour were nothing but high quality and we would have no hesitation in recommending your tours to anyone.
Mr Stuart Jones"
"Visiting the cemeteries for the Day of the Dead celebrations [was inspirational]. We also enjoyed the visits to the Mayan tombs which were brought to life by the excellent guides.
Mr Brian Walters"