Honeymoon in Ecuador: Part Four (The Coast)




After an adventurous week-and-a-half of our mainland Ecuador tour and exploring the Galapagos Islands, we were ready to relax, sleep in, and have zero commitment to an itinerary.  We spent the last 5 days of our honeymoon relaxing and soaking up the sun at a quaint hotel on the coast.  We did our research for this part of the trip because Ecuador has a lot to offer in terms of coastal cities and beach towns and we wanted to find the perfect place to conclude our vacation.  I discovered Hosteria Farallon Dillon, located in Ballenita, in Frommer's Ecuador Guide, and found it to be absolutely perfect and charming.  The hotel is located atop a hill overlooking the ocean and features adorable maritime accents and decorations throughout the property.  There is a long stairway down to the beach, where guests can enjoy taking siestas in hammocks or walking on the white sand scattered with shells.  Our "honeymoon suite" was located down a flight of stairs, right on the hillside, with a lovely balcony facing the water.  We had an adorable canopy bed and nautical memorabilia.  The room had a lot of character and creativity.  The staff was wonderful and we enjoyed eating all our meals at the restaurant patio overlooking the ocean.


Hosteria Farallon Dillon in Ballenita, Ecuador
Adorable nautical accents




The dining patio at Farallon Dillon

Stairs down to our suite

Ballenita is a small, quiet town located on the Santa Elena peninsula that is somewhat off the beaten path.  I found that our hotel offered a much more unique and personalized experience compared to the larger and more touristy coastal cities.  It was a perfect and carefree location for the last few days of our honeymoon.  However, if you're looking for fun and excitement, go to Salinas, the "Miami beach"-style city with high rise condos, populated beaches and access to water sports.  If you're in the mood for partying, surfing, or staying out all night at the discotecas, try Montanita, which the Moon Handbook on Ecuador describes as "hippie haven."

Salinas, Ecuador

Salinas

 
While we thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Ballenita, getting there was a different story entirely...
 
Our trip from the Galapagos to Guayaquil (Ecuador's largest city and center of business) entailed a 2-hour speedboat ride, two taxis, two water taxis, a crowded bus, a pontoon ride, and a flight from Baltra to Guayaquil.  We wanted some freedom to get around independently for the remainder of our trip, so we rented a car in Guayaquil to drive to the coast.  This posed several challenges because a) our U.S. auto insurance that covers rental cars is apparently not accepted in Ecuador, b) all rental cars in Ecuador are manual transmission, and c) we had terrible maps.  It was stressful and frustrating to find our way out of the city, but after failed attempts at asking for directions and fumbling with our sub-par map of the airport vicinity we eventually located the highway to the ocean.  At this point the drive was lovely and easy enough.  We got to Santa Elena, refueled the vehicle, and planned to reach our hotel within the next few minutes.  However, we apparently missed the exit for Ballenita, which turned into 2 hours of driving back and forth along the coast, asking for directions several times (the responses of which were always in Spanish, confusing, and usually incorrect), and becoming more and more discouraged.  I didn't have cell phone service internationally, and even if I did, I knew that the hotel staff didn't speak English and wouldn't be able to help me anyway.  I didn't even have an exact address for the hotel.  I started to regret making this reservation, and Jaycob was beginning to doubt that the hotel existed at all.  I envisioned us sleeping in the car and driving back to Guayaquil in the morning.  FINALLY, after retracing our steps yet again, we found the exit for Ballenita.  We arrived at our hotel tired and hungry after dark, only minutes before the dining room closed for the night.  But we were ecstatic and relieved to find this blissful diamond in the rough!
 
Once we found Farallon Dillon, everything was perfect.  We spent the next few days sleeping in, reading books, laying out by the pool, relaxing in the hammocks, taking naps, eating delicious fruit and seafood, and drinking red wine and caipirinhas.  When we needed a break from the sun, we watched Winter Olympics coverage.  We took one day trip to Salinas for lunch and a walk along the beach, but had absolutely no desire to leave our blissful hotel any more than that.  Ballenita turned out to be a perfect vacation after 10 days of adventure.  I would love to come back here some day!

View of our hotel from the beach

Walking along the beach

Relaxing in the hammocks

View from our balcony

Enjoying caipirinhas on the patio

Watching the ships from our balcony



Red wine every night!  Cheers!

 


Tips for Travelers:
-When renting a car in Ecuador, you will need to have proof of international auto insurance, or agree to a $6,000 deductible in case of an accident.  Make sure you can drive a manual transmission.  Many cars in Ecuador use diesel fuel, so find out which type of fuel your particular vehicle uses.
-Purchase detailed maps of the roads you will be taking ahead of time!  The maps we received from the rental car company were terrible, and Google maps is not an option unless you want to pay for expensive data roaming.
-If you choose not to rent a car, there are bus options to get from Guayaquil to the coast.  Check the schedule and prices.
-When eating out, the tip is often included in the bill (10% service charge).
-Learn some Spanish before going to Ecuador!  Some people in Quito and other cities will speak English, but don't count on it, and maybe people in the smaller towns will be Spanish-speaking only.  We knew enough to get by, but found it incredibly difficult to get directions when we were lost.  I wish we were fluent before our trip. 
 


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