Beaches of Puerto Lopez sunset, Ecuador

Eight Days of Ecuador…Day 3

By Sheri Oneal

Eight Days of Ecuador…Photography Travel Abroad Class

The temperatures in Ecuador don’t change much throughout the year, so the seasons of spring, summer, winter, and fall pass unnoticed. It is hot, humid and tropical to subtropical with a rainy season lasting for several months depending on the region you are visiting. Because of its location at the equator, Ecuador experiences little variation in daylight hours during the course of a year. Both sunrise and sunset occur each day at the two six o’clock hours.

Day 3 –Sunday, April 22

I was up before the sun the next morning because I didn’t sleep well and I wanted to catch the sunrise. I walked out alone to the beach but unfortunately it was a little cloudy, as I walked back to my room I awoke one of two dogs lying outside of a room and was startled. I noticed a van in the lot next to the room with a sticker that said “raised on the road,” it intrigued me so I wrote the name in my journal. The evening before I noticed a young couple with two small kids and the two dogs walking around the beach. Upon my return to Nashville I searched Instagram, found their page and have enjoyed following them and their interesting story, a family of 4 traveling the world in a Land Rover.

Hotel Rosa Mística at Montañita, Ecuador.

Montañita, Ecuador beach area.

When I got back to my room I saw that several others were also up early so we walked back to the beach and sat at the beachfront restaurant area of our hotel watching the dogs roam around.

A dog in Montañita, Ecuador on the beach.

Eventually the rest of our group joined us and we all enjoyed a breakfast of bread with butter and jam, eggs, fruit and fresh juice before packing up for our next destination.

Breakfast from Hotel Rosa Mística at Montañita, Ecuador.

Restaurant Hotel Rosa Mística at Montañita, Ecuador.

We were off to Manabí via the Spondylus Route “Ruta del Sol” visiting small fisherman villages along the way. We stopped at the Santuario Blanca Estrella del Mar near the ocean side where we saw a cross in the distance, a local vendor setting up along the quiet highway and the shore line from a cliff where we could see for miles.

Santuario Blanca Estrella del Mar along the ocean in Ecuador.

Santuario Blanca Estrella del Mar, Ecuador.

Santuario Blanca Estrella del Mar, Ecuador.

When we arrived at the beach of the surf town Manabí, the students experienced the culture where the locals would grind ice by crank and add the syrup of choice creating a tasty shaved ice snack similar to what we call a snow-cone.

Snow cone on the beach of Manabí, Ecuador.

Beachside of the surftown Manabí, Ecuador

Beachside ceveche vendor of the surftown Manabí, Ecuador.

As we walked along the beach taking it all in there were all kinds of things to take pictures of and so many things were different than what we are used to in the states. The students photographed the men with ceviche carts as they shucked oysters and made their fresh delicacies ala carte oceanside. We all sampled one from this guy and it was wonderful!  

Beachside ceveche vendor of the surftown Manabí, Ecuador.

Surfers on the beach of surftown Manabí, Ecuador.

Everyone was so laid back and happy everywhere we went, and they appeared to not care very much about material possessions or time. Mathew said that most of the Ecuadorian people loved tourist because they appreciated the money tourists spent on their products and services.

Beachside vendor of the surftown Manabí, Ecuador

After shooting at the beach we were off to our next destination stopping for some dessert in a small town along the way with beautiful vibrant colors of pink, blue and yellow. Mathew wanted us to experience the sweet desserts that were made from the cane sugar the locals grew in their area. All of their food was fresh made and everything tasted so different because nothing was processed like we are accustomed to back home.

Ecuador Deserts


Ecuador desert


We stopped at the Agua Blanca-museum for a tour of the and learned of some history about Balseros Del Mar Del Sur, an archeological area revealing one of the most ancient cultures in South America. 

Agua Blanca-museum, Ecuador

Agua Blanca-museum, Ecuador

At another museum we learned more about the early culture of Ecuador, about the pottery and other relics. We saw samples of local snakes in a jar (I thought they were cool) and we walked out along the trails for more history from Norby and a guide from the museum.

Our next destination was Puerto Lopez where we would stay the night. We stopped on the way into town at a seaside restaurant for a late lunch and did a little shopping along the beachside streets. This was the mixed seafood stir fry with fresh local avocado I had…it was really, really good and only 12$!

Students shopping, mixed seafood stir fry with plantains.

The Cabañas Playa Sur hotel where we checked into our rooms that evening was really cool. The rooms were more like huts, they had nice tiled bathrooms and were clean with the typical Ecuador construction of bamboo and palm-leaf thatch roof. In mine there was a screen in the upper section and an oscillating fan. The back part of the property had several hammocks  available for the guest to lounge in and the path to the front led directly to the beach….a Gilligan Island of sorts!

Cabañas Playa Sur hotel in the beach town of Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

The guys, Eric and Jason, seemed excited about this new place and went out for a swim with some of the other students before sunset. It was the first down time we had found since the beginning of the trip…but only lasted about an hour because we needed to get out on the beach for the sunset to shoot.


Inside of my room there was a cute wooden table with two stools and the bed had mosquito netting above that I would use that evening as all the rooms were equipped the same. I would find out later why…


By the end of the day we wrapped up with another night of shooting on the beach in the town of Puerto Lopez capturing the locals and a few visitors along the shore. 

Beaches of Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

There were fishing boats pulled up on the sand, some were coming in and others were just heading out into the surf of the Pacific. People played soccer along the beaches, dogs roamed freely and everyone seemed to enjoy the beautiful evening sunset.

Boats on the beach of Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Nossi Students shooting pictures on beach.
Photo by Kathleen Munkel

Fishermen heading out from the beach in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

After yet another very long day we settled into our rooms at the Cabañas Playa Sur hotel where you could hear the waves along the beach while lying in bed. It almost felt like camping but with a mattress in place of a sleeping bag. Soon I would find out just how similar it was being out in the woods! As I laid there exhausted I felt so comfortable and relaxed as I drifted off to sleep, this was the first time on the trip so far I had no problem with falling asleep. Each of our rooms had mosquito nets over the beds but around 3:30 AM I learned in the middle of the night it is best to tuck it under the mattress to keep other kinds of bugs out. Trust me its better to keep them out than keep them in with you! In a panic I instantly awoke with something crawling on me and flicked it away. I found my phone (which I was learning needed to be next to me all night in case I needed a flashlight), a cricket had somehow managed to spend most of the night with me and I was desperately searching the bed for the rest of his family. Once I felt I was alone in bed I tucked the netting as far under the mattress from the inside of this tented device and tried to go back to sleep…it took a while.

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