Getting to Montanita from Puerto Lopez was interesting. There is a terminal terrestre in Puerto Lopez but apparently you can't get a ticket to Montanita from there. So Erik, Aleah and myself went out to the main street and we waited for about 15 minutes or so until a bus came for us to flag down. It cost us $3.50 and was only about two hours or less to get there. Upon arriving we went in search of a hostel that had a kitchen. We arrived in the early evening and took us almost an hour to find a hostel but we finally settled at Mama Cucha. Apparently this hostel has a bad reputation but I have nothing negative to say about it, in fact it was great. For $8 a night we got private rooms and each room had a hammock out front to lounge in. It was also a two minute walk to the beach and not right in the center, which made sleeping at night possible yet still difficult. Montanita is a party town and clubs bump insanely loud music every night until 4am, so prepare yourself if you're not a partier.
Michelle met up with us on the second day so we were all united again. Even though I spent almost two weeks there I have little to show for it since for over a week, I was sick. So a lot of my days consisted of staying in bed or laying in the hammock, pretty pitiful. But on the days I wasn't sick I attempted surfing for the first time, which was fun but I was only able to get up on my knees. Also since the beach was so close we would have a lot of beach days so we could all work on our tans. At our hostel there was also a kayak and bikes we could take for the day free of charge.
So one day we took the kayak to the beach and did some wave kayaking. Michelle and I went out first and were able to paddle past the waves and then we started paddling parallel with them, which was a mistake. We were paddling and chatting away and mid sentence a big wave came and knocked us, I fell out and Michelle was carried forward. I forgot I had my sunglasses on my head so those went bye bye to ocean (the littering was the worst part for me) and I was getting hit wave after wave until I finally was able to get closer to shore and find Michelle. We were reunited and decided to ride some of the waves in the kayak which was hilarious and really fun. At one point we both fell out and Michelle lost her sunglasses too.
On another day the four of us took the bikes out and went in search of a nearby forest where monkeys dwell, but we never found it. We biked on a dirt path that was secluded and took us through some farms and it was really beautiful and then we rode back on the beach.
My main goal in Montanita however was to dive. Since I had been sick I couldn't dive but on my last day there I finally was able to go. I went with Otro Mundo Dive Center since they gave me the best price for a two tank dive, since I'm a DiveMaster. They normally charge $85 but they gave me dives for $60. Now the dives were nice but also disappointing. Out of five people on the boat I was the only certified diver (two DSDs which are Discover Scuba Diving for people who just want a quick experience without being certified and then two people who were in the process of their Open Water certification) thus meaning the diving was catered to them and cut short. I can normally last nearly an hour on a tank but only did 30 minute dives because of the other people. So I was very frustrated with that but at least I enjoyed the dives.
It was really diverse life, I saw coral and species of animals that are found in the Caribbean (where most of my dives have been) but then algaes and other species of fish found off the coast of California so it was really unique. I saw a few octopi (which were adorable), a few small rays, some eels, my first seahorse on a dive, and the largest burrfish/pufferfish I've ever seen. On the first dive we went through a small wreck that had several schools of fish hanging around and then swam by the white statue of Christ (which I admit I have no idea why or how it got there).
The diving is not in Montanita but actually outside of Ayangue which is slightly south and becoming a more known dive spot in Ecuador.
Montanita was also where we departed with Erik & Aleah, but only for a few days as we met back up with them in Mancora, Peru.
So overall Montanita was a town I had not planned on visiting but glad I did.
After Montanita we went to Guayaquil so we could try and find a tour to visit the mangroves in Churute Manglares Reserve. But the cheapest tour we came across was $85 which was just out of our budget. So we visited the Iguana Park and walked on the Malecon (as they are free). Unless you are booking a trip to the Galapagos from Guayaquil there is no reason to go there. It is an awful huge city. Bigger than Quito, and humid and hotter than hell with no way of cooling off. We stayed at DreamKatcher Hostel which was a little isolated from the mess of the city and it cost $12 a night. The American guy who owns it is very helpful and assisted us in navigating the bus system to get to places instead of taking taxis which are far more expensive. So we honestly got out of Guayaquil as soon as possible. It was my second least favorite place we'd been to in the whole trip and Michelle's least favorite. So we left Guayaquil as soon as we could and decided to go back to Peru. I admit my blogs are getting less detailed since I'm so far behind but expect a few more blogs coming within the next days.