Guayaquil and the Coast
Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador and a busy port. It is a convenient stop en-route to and from the Galapagos Islands and has plenty of recreation options.
Malecon Simon Bolivar waterfront is a really imaginative urban recovery project. There was a great choice of restaurants and cafes where we sat and watched the world go by.
Most visitors come to Guayaquil before or after a trip to the Galapagos Islands but the city has attractions of its own. Malacon 2000 waterfront development is a popular recreation venue, you can spot land iguanas in Parque Seminario and enjoy views from the lighthouse in the pretty Las Penas neighbourhood. You can also take a boat trip to Isla de la Plata, a Galapagos in microcosm.
- Recreation: The city’s parks are good places to relax away from the crowds. Parque Seminario or Iguana Park is home to a colony of tame creatures who sit happily for portraits. The botanic gardens are ideal for strolls among the trees and plants and are part of the 2.5km Malecon 2000 waterfront complex which includes shops, restaurants, food courts, museums, cinemas and La Perla, South America’s biggest ferris wheel at a whopping 57m.
- History & culture: Learn about the city’s past at Parque Historico with themed areas recreating different aspects and eras. Over the centuries fire has destroyed almost all of Guayaquil’s colonial architecture but there are some notable early 20th-century neo-classical structures including the palacio municipal, the Catedral Metropolitana and the Torre Morisco whose clock was built in England. Las Penas, on Santa Ana hill, is the oldest district and has cobbled streets and attractive colonial-style houses painted in pastel colours. Guayaquil’s lighthouse stands at the top of the hill and you can climb the winding stairs for a fine view over the city.
- Nature & Wildlife: Isla de la Plata, sometimes called a mini-Galapagos, can be visited on a long day trip or an overnight excursion from Guayaquil. Expect to see albatrosses, frigatebirds, pelicans, both blue and red-footed boobies, dolphins, turtles and rays during the voyage and as you explore the island and its waters. Between June and September you may also observe humpback whales.