Flowing Manabí

The province of Manabí is one of the most attractive in our country. Delicious food, friendly people and spectacular beaches. And with more than 300km of coastline to explore and “El Niño” in full effect we did not hesitate to grab our boards and hit the road in search of waves.

Ayampe was our first stop, the southernmost town of the province. This place has become a surf town, homebase of locals and foreigners who are attracted to its beach break (waves breaking on sand) and the proximity of excellent waves.


But not only the waves attract people to this town. Its vegetation, its vast beach and the tranquility and simplicity of the way of living has also been discovered by foreigners. They have built their houses at the foot of the five hills and now reside in this Ecuadorian paradise. We were lucky that a couple of North Americans opened the doors of their home for us to stay in during the first night.

What they built is something much bigger than a house (actually the house is pretty small). They built an admirable life style inspired by conservation. Simple and sublime. The energy of the place inspired us to manage in the best way the resources that we had. Everything we consumed was used to optimum effect, every drop of water had a purpose in its existence. Time seemed to slow down with the intention to be better exploited.

Once installed it was time for our first surf session. A north swell was on decline with small and enjoyable waves to offer. The perfect warm up for the days that lay ahead.

The beachbreak of Ayampe has many faces. During this session it showed us the one that attracts so many people. A gentle wave that allows you to take your time to stand up and while you ride, it lets you rip it as hard as you can. It's truly great place to learn to surf and practice a variety of maneuvers.

Amongst warm water and fun waves the sun began to hide behind the island of Los Ahorcados and our first day came to an end in this peaceful place.

The next morning began like a typical day in our beach season. Heavy sunlight from the early hours of the day and the sea fully glass. In addition, the first waves of a new north swell began to arrive and we did not hesitate to seize them.

After lunch we continued our roadtrip north along the Ruta del Spondylus. This road mostly borders the ocean and allowed us to observe the conditions. The more we advanced, the larger the waves appeared. We crossed in front of many beach breaks and even though we could stop at one of the many points that these beaches host, we had our destiny assured.

Just over an hour drive later we arrived in San Mateo, one of the most famous waves of Ecuador. The excitement arose when we saw the first sets. Train waves broke perfectly for hundreds of meters. It was afternoon, the sun was setting and the wind had the perfect direction to give this place all the magic that makes it so famous.

But what from afar seems dreamy from up close can turn into a nightmare.

Weeks before our arrival in San Mateo in one of the strongest swells of the year, one of the most recognized surfers in our country (Aurelio Prieto, 1962-2016) died while surfing this wave.

A couple of sets larger than expected reminded us how important it is to respect the power of the ocean. And although the session wasn't the most entertaining for the group, it gave us an important lesson about untamed nature and the privilege it is to enjoy it.

Feeling down and humbled we continued our journey. It was nightfall when we arrived in Canoa, our next stop. Here we met a group of people who moved away from the big city to be closer to the waves. They were waiting for us with some cold beers and the day's catch ready to be devoured. The hospitality of these special people of the Ruta del Spondylus was immediately felt.

Unlike the previous day, the new one greeted us with a strong early-morning rain and overcast sky. In the beach break of Canoa the new north swell was filling in, so when the rain stopped we began to prepare a boat to go in search of waves. Not without trying the fun beach break waves first, essential to loosen up a bit after the experience in San Mateo.

While traveling in search of a particular wave we witnessed the potential of this coast. From time to time the locals pointed out to us surfable waves, and even though they looked great, none of them were the ones we were looking for. After about 45 minutes we arrived at Cabo Pasado, a left pointbreak wave that breaks offshore.

At first we had our doubts as the tide was high and the wave was breaking slowly. However the tide changed quickly and Cabo Pasado started showing its best. The session began shyly. The local group that accompanied us was the first to hit the water and with vertical maneuvers and lots of power began dominating the wave.

This gave us the confidence we needed to join the party. Besides us there was no sign of another human being anywhere close.

We have to make special mention of our team cameraman and the pilot of the boat who risked their physical integrity (and film crews) while running between waves to get the best possible shots. More than once the engine died with a set looming on the horizon.

One by one the surfers got back in the boat after a very fun session. The wave however was still there, breaking immaculate before our eyes and would continue to do so after our departure.

The day concluded with a relaxing session at the beachbreak of Canoa. Another sunset sharing waves with fascinated foreigners and local surf jugglers. All of us in this together in search of the same addictive feeling of riding waves.

Later on with some beers in hand we would remember the session of the day and discuss the potential that exists on the beaches of Manabí where many waves are still sure to be discovered. Waves that remain hidden because there is no need to discover them yet.

Just like that our last day arrived and decisions had to be made. Under a soft morning sun, our hammock committee decided to visit a relatively unknown beachbreak to catch a glance of the last traces of the north swell. We would get there by car through the amazing vegetation of our country.

A dirt road led us to the ocean just in time to see a couple of big waves break across the beach closing out too fast even for mind surfing. None of us had that much experience in the tube. We weren’t expecting this. We had to try anyways. There was no one around so we just drifted with the waves trying to understand them. A couple of closed out tubes and the odd open powerful section.

Back at the beach once again, we where grateful with what had been given. Peace, tension, laughter, adventure, this trip had everything. And still had a little more.

The tide filled and a slight breeze came in, transforming the close outs into hundreds of peaks along the entire beach. Forget about packing, go and catch some waves. This water wonderland gave us a last small session showing us that the key is always to flow as its waves and as the people of Manabí that we met.


The tide filled and a slight breeze came in, transforming the close outs into hundreds of peaks along the entire beach. Forget about packing, go and catch some waves. This water wonderland gave us a last small session showing us that the key is always to flow as its waves and as the people of Manabí that we met.