Canoa is rapidly turning into the resort of choice for backpackers and surfers who want a more chill alternative to crowded Montañita. Canoa’s central location means it’s farther from Quito than Atacames and farther from Guayaquil than Montañita, and therefore quieter.
At present, Canoa is probably the most pleasant backpacking hub on the entire coast, along with Puerto López, but with the new bridge in nearby Bahía it’s expanding fast, so only time will tell if that will remain the case.
Canoa is one of the few coastal towns that actually benefitted from the 1997–1998 El Niño climate pattern, which expanded the beach. It is a dramatic setting with waves crashing on long stretches of sand overlooked by cliffs and caves to the north. These caves are inhabited by bats and can be explored.
The surf is consistently good here, and waves commonly reach around two meters.
Entertainment and Events
There are several surfing contests in the high season (Nov.–Apr.), the biggest of which is in November. Nightlife in Canoa is very seasonal. In low season and during the week, it’s very quiet, but on high-season weekends it can get very busy, with partying spilling onto the beach and the main street. Several restaurants double as good bars for a drink, including Surf Shak (Malecón, tel. 9/033-6870, 8 a.m.–11 p.m. Wed.–Mon.) on the beachfront.
For dancing on weekends, head to Coco Bar (Javier Santos and 30 de Noviembre, tel. 9/957-4189, 6 p.m.–midnight Mon.–Thurs., 6 p.m.–2 a.m. Fri.–Sat.) on the main street, one block in from the beach.
Getting to Canoa
Buses between San Vicente and Pedernales ($0.40) come through every half hour. Reina del Camino operates an early morning and late night bus to Quito (6 hours, $8). If you miss the direct bus from Quito, take a bus either to Pedernales or Bahía de Caráquez and change. From Guayaquil, travel via Bahía de Caráquez and either take the boat across to San Vicente ($0.30) and take a bus from there, or take a direct bus across the new bridge.
© Ben Westwood and Avalon Travel from Moon Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands, 5th Edition