Orientation Palmar is a fishing village located 35 km north of Santa Elena. Set back from the highway, Palmar boasts a mangrove forest, undeveloped beach and sanctuary atop a hill. It is a place where you will experience local coastal life and practice your Spanish. Sleep in one of the two hostels that are directly […]
Palmar is a fishing village located 35 km north of Santa Elena. Set back from the highway, Palmar boasts a mangrove forest, undeveloped beach and sanctuary atop a hill. It is a place where you will experience local coastal life and practice your Spanish. Sleep in one of the two hostels that are directly on the beach or with a host family. In the morning, after breakfast, head out to the beach to take pictures of the local fishermen unloading their cargo and then take a short taxi ride to a pristine, secluded beach called Playa Rosada (named for its pink sands, it is one of the cleanest beaches on the Ruta del Sol) where you can rent beach chairs and umbrellas and enjoy locally caught fish for lunch. Or, schedule a guided tour in Spanish to one of the only surviving mangrove forests in the province by kayak. After, take a taxi up to the Santuario to get a bird’s eye view of the town and hike down the path back into town. Pass by the main soccer field and join a pickup soccer game with the area’s kids.
Run by a local youth group, this 2 hour tour takes you from the beach, through the mangroves, and on a short hike. Local guides explain the different types of mangroves (which are difficult to distinguish), the native birds, and recount local legends from the area. The tour concludes with a 1 hour hike around the mangroves. (From here you can also walk to Playa Rosa, described below).
This is an exceptionally clean beach just a $5 cab ride from Palmar. You are almost guaranteed the beach to yourself and there is a restaurant close by, though it is rarely open. If you want beach and don’t want to share, this may be your best option on the coast. To get there, just get a cab from Palmar and tell them Playa Rosa.
Make sure to visit the local youth foundation called Neo Juventud, across the street from the Catholic church, which runs a string of microenterprises, including: an oyster farm, an art center, a pizza restaurant, and a cyber café. You can also speak with Maria Delgado (contact info below) about volunteer opportunities with Neo.
This pizzaria was a collaboration between two Peace Corps Volunteers and the local youth group. Originally a bakery, the group decided to be the community’s first pizzaria and were lucky enough to have two Brooklynites there to help them with the recipes. A little unexpected taste of New York on the Ecuador coast.
There are two hostels on the beach, with similar, basic accommodations:
Price: $10/night; Phone: 099-079-9852
Price: $8-$10/person; Phone: 04-290-4146
From La Libertad: Head to the mini-terminal and take the Santa Rita bus, which costs $0.75 and take a seat on the left hand side of the bus to have a better view of the ocean as it runs along the Ruta del Sol. Ask to get off when you reach the market in Palmar and keep heading straight past the comuna to the beach and then along to your hostel. If you speak Spanish, you can schedule lodging and activities with the head of community tourism, Maria Tomala Delgado at 098-641-9183. If your Spanish is limited, send her an email in English at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phone: 098-641-9183 (Spanish only)
Email: email@example.com (English OK)