This family tour of Ecuador showcases the country's wild Pacific coast with an itinerary full of nature, beaches, and kid-friendly adventure. Start in the colorful port of Guayaquil to see historic landmarks and basking land iguanas, and head north to Manta for snorkeling, whale watching, and a trip to the Pacoche Wildlife Reserve. Take to the high seas in Puerto López with sailing and fishing day trips, then learn about Indigenous Ecuadorian culture with a visit to the local Agua Blanca community.


  • Explore the "Pearl of the Pacific" in colorful Guayaquil
  • Spot playful howler monkeys at the Pacoche Wildlife Refuge
  • Set sail to the fabled Isla de la Plata, the inspiration for "Treasure Island"
  • Swim, snorkel, and surf on the beaches of Machalilla National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guayaquil, Explore  Guayaquil
Day 2 Guayaquil City Tour, Transfer to Manta Manta
Day 3 Pacoche Wildlife Refuge, Manta Beaches & City Sights Manta
Day 4 Snorkeling & Whale Watching in Manta Bay, Transfer to Puerto López Puerto López
Day 5 Sailing Excursion to Isla de la Plata Puerto López
Day 6 Free Day in Puerto López: Fish Markets & Isla Salango Puerto López
Day 7 Family Fishing Adventure  Puerto López
Day 8 Salango Beach Day Puerto López
Day 9 Los Frailes & Agua Blanca, Transfer Back to Guayaquil Guayaquil
Day 10 Depart Guayaquil  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guayaquil, Explore

Welcome to historic Guayaquil, Ecuador's "Pearl of the Pacific"

Welcome to Ecuador! Your flight arrives in historic Guayaquil, a busy metropolis that serves as Ecuador's main port. Your private driver will collect you and transport you to your hotel, and once you've had a chance to regroup, it's time to get out and explore! Nestled along the banks of the Río Guayas, this picturesque city is home to gorgeous architecture, family-friendly sights and activities, and plenty of shops and restaurants.

Start with a stroll down the Malecón 2000, a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) boardwalk along the riverfront that offers lovely views and will give the kids a chance to stretch their legs after the long plane ride. Then, visit Las Peñas, or "The Boulders," a neighborhood with a history that stretches back nearly 400 years, with pastel architecture that reflects 19th-century abundance. Climb the 444 steps from Las Peñas to the top of Cerro Santa Ana (Santa Ana Hill) to find a chapel, lighthouse, and gorgeous views of the city and the Gulf of Guayaquil. Relax at your hotel tonight before continuing your adventures tomorrow. 

Day 2: Guayaquil City Tour, Transfer to Manta

See sunbathing iguanas at Seminario Park

Get better acquainted with Guayaquil on a guided city tour today. Your guide will collect your family from the hotel, and you'll start with a visit to Seminario Park, best known for its resident land iguanas, which the kids will love seeing hanging out in the trees and sunbathing in the grass. From here, you'll head to the Metropolitan Cathedral, where you'll have a chance to appreciate its classic Gothic lines, then walk down the Malecón to the Palacio Municipal (Municipal Palace) and Palacio de Gobernacion (Government Palace).

See the Moorish clock tower, La Torre Morisca, and climb the stairs for views of the entire city, then continue to La Rotonda, a statue that marks the meeting between Simón Bolívar and Jose San Martin in 1822. If you didn't make it to the Las Peñas neighborhood yesterday, you'll have a chance to experience this colorful, vibrant district at the end of the tour. 

This afternoon, you're off to your next destination, the coastal city of Manta. The drive takes approximately four hours, taking you along the Spondylus Route, which has gorgeous Pacific Coast scenery—be sure to keep your cameras ready! Along the way, you'll stop in the town of Ballenita for lunch and a visit to its local museums, which showcase the region's pirate history. You can also take a break at Playa Ayampe if the kids want some beach time. Arrive in Manta and check in at your hotel, then explore on your own this evening. 

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Day 3: Pacoche Wildlife Refuge, Manta Beaches & City Sights

Spend your morning on the beach of Playa San Lorenzo

After breakfast, let the kids enjoy some downtime at Playa San Lorenzo. This quiet 2-mile (3 km) stretch of beach is a nesting ground for sea turtles, with hundreds of turtles journeying there to lay eggs each year, so you're likely to see a few relaxing on the shore. While this area isn't great for swimming if you have very young children, teens or older kids who are strong swimmers might enjoy the waves here. 

You can also make a visit to Pacoche Wildlife Refuge, a protected area located about 15 miles (25 km) from Manta in the province of Manabí. The refuge includes more than 21,000 acres (8,500 ha) of coastal marine ecosystems and more than 12,000 acres (5,000 ha) of terrestrial ecosystems. Enjoy the lush green forests, varied vegetation, and animals that include 200 different species of birds, as well as several different families of howler monkeys. See the monkeys in their natural habitat, and take a guided hike from the refuge's lodge, where you can go all the way out to San Lorenzo Lighthouse.

Later this afternoon, see more of Manta with a stroll around town. See the cruise ships landing at the port, or head to the nearby village of Montecristi, the birthplace of the Panama hat, and learn all about the hat's history and legacy. The kids might also enjoy a visit to the Museum of Manabí, known for its collection of artifacts that showcase the history and culture of the Manabí province. 

Day 4: Snorkeling & Whale Watching in Manta Bay, Transfer to Puerto López

See breaching whales in Manta Bay on today's boat trip

The day starts early with a tour of Manta Bay. Your driver will collect you from your hotel and take you to Playa Murciélago, where you'll meet your guide and board a boat that will take you out to sea. Cruise the open waters, with stops for snorkeling, swimming, and bird-watching. If you're lucky enough to be there between June and September, you're also likely to be treated to the breathtaking sight of breaching humpback whales—sure to be a huge hit with the kids! 

After your boat tour, you'll take a private transfer to Puerto López, a drive of about two hours that takes you along the scenic coast. This small fishing village is the headquarters for Machalilla National Park, with a host of outdoor activities to choose from, a beach promenade, and lots of shops and restaurants. Check in at your hotel, then enjoy dinner at a local café this evening and take the kids for a walk along the beach. 

Day 5: Sailing Excursion to Isla de la Plata

Say hello to sea lions on Isla de la Plata

The high seas beckon today as you board a small, family-friendly yacht and set sail for Isla de la Plata (Silver Island), located just northwest of part of Puerto López within Machalilla National Park. The kids are sure to be intrigued by the island's swashbuckling history: local legend says English mercenary Sir Francis Drake buried treasure here, and it's rumored to have been the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island." They'll also be delighted to keep a lookout for humpback whales (especially from mid-June to mid-October), which can often be seen on the journey to and from the island.

Once you've dropped anchor at Isla de la Plata, spot the boisterous sea lions and blue-footed boobies that frequent its shores, as well as distinctive frigatebirds, red-footed and masked boobies, waved albatrosses, and tropicbirds. After a walk along the island's guided trail, adventurous and older kids can go snorkeling in the pristine waters, while younger ages might want to stay on shore and start their own dig for buried treasure on the beach.

Day 6: Free Day in Puerto López: Fish Markets & Isla Salango

Visit blue-footed boobies on Isla Salango

Explore more of Puerto López on your own today, starting with a visit to the morning fish market. This bustling morning event begins quite early, with fishermen landing along the waterfront to sell fresh fish to local restaurant owners and residents. Watch the boats jockey for position, fish being cleaned and quickly sold, and birds diving for scraps. If you like, you and the kids can even purchase some seafood and ask one of the restaurants to cook it for you—there's nothing like some fresh-caught fish for breakfast! 

Later, take a boat tour to Isla Salango, located across from the nearby village of Salango. The island's steep slopes don't allow for hiking, but there's a small, white-sand beach with a reef that attracts colorful tropical fish, making it the perfect snorkel spot. The wildlife that occupies the beach includes blue-footed boobies, frigates, pelicans, and the occasional sea lion or turtle sunning on the shore. Head back to Puerto López in time for some great local food at one of the town's many restaurants. 

Day 7: Family Fishing Adventure 

Reel in  the big one on a family fishing adventure

You'll be up and about before the sun today as you head out for a full-day family fishing trip. Arrive at the dock and meet up with your captain, then navigate 45 miles out from shore on a fully-equipped yacht. Your guides will set you up to fish, with all the necessary equipment provided onboard, and your family will have the option of keeping what you catch and having it prepared at a local restaurant for dinner or doing a catch and release back into the ocean. The kids will get to experience all the ins and outs of fishing, and your expert guides will take you to the best secret spots for catching the big ones!

Day 8: Salango Beach Day 

You may encounter sea turtles at Playa Salango

Spend some time at Salango today, where you can head out to Isla Salango if you didn't get to go earlier or relax on Playa Salango. Little ones can swim and play along the shore, and older kids can hone their surf skills with surf lessons right on the beach! Enjoy a fresh seafood lunch, then explore the quaint streets of the village, picking up a few souvenirs at local shops. You can also learn about the history of the area at the museum here, which documents the ancient civilizations that once lived in the area through various exhibits. Return to your hotel in Puerto López just at sunset. 

Day 9: Los Frailes & Agua Blanca, Transfer Back to Guayaquil

Enjoy sun and fun on Playa Los Frailes 

Make the most of your last morning in Puerto López with a visit to Playa Los Frailes, one of mainland Ecuador's most beautiful beaches. Part of Machalilla National Park, the beach is a protected, isolated expanse with no modern amenities and usually very few people. You'll be able to swim and snorkel freely here, and there's a stunning viewpoint that overlooks the entire Pacific coast and park area. Do keep in mind that visits to the beach are only allowed during specific hours, and smoking, alcohol, camping, and bicycles are prohibited. 

Later today, make a visit to Agua Blanca, considered the last Indigenous people of the Manteña culture in this part of ​​Manabí. Tour the community and learn about daily life here, let the kids say hello to the free-roaming goats and pigs, and enjoy a typical Ecuadorian lunch. The village also has an interesting museum with archaeological pieces typical of the Manteña culture and a brightly-painted church that serves as the community hub. This afternoon, your driver will collect you, and you'll make the transfer back to Guayaquil.

Day 10: Depart Guayaquil

Say your goodbyes to Guayaquil and the Pacific coast

It's time for you and the family to say farewell to Ecuador. At the appointed hour, your driver will pick you up and transfer you to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels! 

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Map of Ecuador's Pacific Coast for Families: Culture, Nature & Beaches - 10 Days
Map of Ecuador's Pacific Coast for Families: Culture, Nature & Beaches - 10 Days