<Where to go, What to do <Places <Southern Coast and Lowlands

Manta is quite a popular stop-off for cruise ships and has a few excellent hotels. It’s quite a big city with almost 200,000 inhabitants and is a major port. The fishing industry drives the local economy. The United States had an air base here as part of Plan Colombia which boosted the local economy but President Correa declined to renew the lease; a generally popular measure (apart from the general gringo influence scepticism, the agreement had given American servicemen immunity from national laws).

I haven’t ever spent much time there but I’m not a huge fan of what I’ve seen. However lots of Ecuadorians come here on holiday. The main beach, Playa Murciélago is a little way out of the centre. It’s quite wide and has a modern malecón, with restaurants and bars. Hence it’s very popular. Apparently it used to be very dangerous (crime-wise) but I definitely didn’t get any sense of that when I was there. However you should be careful in the sea – the surf is strong and there is an undertow. There were several deaths here towards the end of 2009.

The city centre is east, past the port, the Plaza Civica market and the main square. Opposite the municipio is the Museo del Banco Central which has quite a lot of archaeological artefacts from the area.

If you keep walking around La Poza, the old fishing harbour you’ll come to the area of Tarqui, but I wouldn’t really recommend it. One, the harbour and the river smell bad. Two, the beach here is dirtier. There are plenty of rustic bar-restaurants though.

Click here to find out Where to Stay or Where to Eat = in Manta.


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