Cojimies beach is a popular weekend destination for Quiteños seeking a no-frills beach escape. We arrived at this beach just a few days after visiting one of Ecuador’s finest beaches; Los Frailes. So, our expectations were super high.
I recommend staying away from the small town of Cojimies as the main beach is busy and I’d argue the town itself is gritty without much charm. There’s numerous accommodation options along the main road coming into town which are better as they all have private entrances to cleaner, less crowded sections of the same beach.
The beach is undoubtedly the main attraction for visiting Cojimies. The super wide and long beach is perfect for endless strolls, taking a dip and lounging on the sand.
There are very few waves on the beach as they break way off into the distance. You can see them on the horizon. As they never reach the shore, the beach is very flat and has an almost lagoon type feel.
The main part of the beach does get pretty crowded. It’s so wide that there’s multiple layers of vendors renting lounges, umbrellas and beverages (yay coconuts!).
I found the main beach to be interesting and good for people watching, but ultimately I enjoyed the beach in front of our hotel more as it was peaceful and more isolated.
Love Island is a large sandbank that stretches from the mouth of the Cojimies River. You can easily organize a tour from operators in Cojimies town or find one on the beach.
A popular tour option is to include the mangroves and then dropped off on a beach for a few hours to chill, check out the various crabs and other marine life (depending on the season you may be lucky to see some turtle’s nesting).
The below video gives a good overview of the Isla Del Amor – but it’s in Spanish so turn on English subtitles if needed.
The food options are limited to seafood and local food such as plantains, meat and corn. The main beach has lots of cabana seafood restaurants and it can be difficult to know which are best.
My rule is to never visit an empty cabana and I normally try to eat in the busiest one. Is this foolproof? No, but given there’s little else to differentiate one cabana from another, it’s the best I’ve got.
My favorite fish from the area is camotillo, but it’s also one of the most expensive.
Note – Cojimies is not a resort like town with a lot of western friendly options.
It’s difficult to near impossible to find quality coffee in Cojimies. Like a lot of smaller towns in Ecuador, you’ll be given a cup of hot water or milk and provide with the container of instant coffee to make your own cup. For addicts like me it’s better than nothing.
The 30 min coastal drive from Pedernales to Cojimies was really enjoyable. You’ll come across several view points with beach access, lush coconut palms, shrimp farms, dry and tropical forests.
Cojimies popularity largely comes from it’s relative closeness to Quito and the super wide, safe, lagoon like beaches. I’d recommend it for expats based in Quito that are short on time.
But, if you have more time and willing to travel a little further, then you might find the beaches in the Esmeraldas or south of Manta with more tourist facilities more appealing.
Have you been to Cojimies or thinking about visiting? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.
Playa Los Frailes sits inside the Machalilla National Park in Ecuador’s coastal province of Manabi.
There is a limited number of car parking available (60 spaces) right next to the beach. You will need to pay $2 for parking. Try to get there early (ie before 10am) for the best chance of getting a car park – else you’ll need to leave your car near the highway and either walk the 3km or get a tuk tuk mototaxi ($2-$5).
Free to enter. Showers are $1 and bathrooms $0.25.
8am to 4pm
No. It’s a bay with only small, family friendly waves.
I’m putting Los Frailes down as one of the best beaches in Ecuador because:
1. Protected within a national park
This prevents unrestrained commercialization and ultimately the destruction of the sand vegetation and habitat.
2. Accessible to all
The main entrance is right on the main highway that runs through Ecuador’s costa del sol – the main coast road. This means most buses will drop you off at the entrance and you can either walk the 3km to the main beach or grab a tuk tuck motorcycle for $2-$4.
3. Free entrance
You no longer need a permit or pay an entrance fee. Car parking costs $2.
4. Clear, blue waters
We visited on Christmas day and the water was just lovely. The turquoise color and goldilocks water temperature (ie just right) made swimming for hours a pleasure. Some families were in the water for the entire 6 hours we were there!
5. Crisp, white sand
The white sand of Los Frailes is some of the nicest along the coast. The sand along Ecuador’s coast often consists of heavy, black minerals. But not here! Enjoy the white sands between your toes.
6. Rocks & caves
The cliffs and caves make for some wonderful views, photos and provide some much needed shelter from the sun.
Did you go to Los Frailes? We’ve love to hear your opinion in the comments below.
The closest town with tourist amenities is Puerto Lopez. This town has some decent restaurants and a very relaxing beach. Featuring both a local vibe (incl functioning fishing fleet) and tourist offerings such as good hotels, beach side restaurants and some souvenir sellers.
The next village south from Puerto Lopez is a small fishing town of Salango. Even quieter than Puerto Lopez, Salango has a quaint beach, a few local restaurants and an island (Salango Island) which is a popular boat ride amongst day-trippers that don’t want to spend the hour each to visit Isla de la Plata.
Bordering Machalilla National Park is the town of Puerto Cayo. This growing expat retirement location has a long, wide beach and plenty of seafood restaurants.
Perhaps my favorite spot in all of Manabi is the small village of Ayampe. Good surfing, yoga and an expat population focusing on wellness is what Ayampe is known for.
Montañita is the party and surfing scene of Ecuador. Here you can dance and drink until all hours of the morning or surf and chill. It’s your choice.