We spent 4 days with Rodrigo, Poncho and the team at Viejamar last week and it was great! From the moment we arrived, and Poncho gave both me and my daughter a kiss on the cheek, we knew we had arrived a special place – full of new friends and adventure.
The location of Viejamar could not be improved upon. It is on one of the loveliest beaches I have ever seen and during our visit I doubt there was ever more than 20 people on the entire 2-3 mile beach! The water was very comfortable during our April visit, however the current was pretty strong. You need to be a strong swimmer if you want to spend time in the water above your knees. The waves were mesmerizing, rolling in big and beautiful around the clock. One moonlit night we were awed to watch some sort of luminescent feature in the water glow as the waves broke. It was more beautiful than words can describe. I didn't even take a picture because I want to remember it with my mind. A photo would never do it justice.
We really enjoyed meeting the fellow travelers while we were there. It was such a world wide mix, and fortunately for us, the common language was English. We were thrilled to meet travelers from Ireland, Switzerland, Canada - and a few other places I'm not quite sure of! Each person we talked with shared our sense of adventure and love of travel. It was so fun to visit with each of them.
Every member of the staff was kind and helpful. Poncho kindly put up with all my pre-trip emails with questions and arranged all our transportation for us. The lovely lady who cooked breakfast and cleaned was so kind. Every day she carefully pronounced the Spanish word for Eggs in hopes that I would learn it. I tried...! One quick comment about breakfast - the coffee is served a bit different than I have ever seen done. You are given about 1/3 of a mug of a very, very strong coffee, to which you are to add hot water to make it the intensity you want. Also there is sugar for the coffee, but no milk - bring your own milk. You can store it in the refrigerator.
The cabins, while small and simple, meet your needs. We did battle with the hot water from time to time, but hey – it’s an adventure – right?! But don’t come to Viejamar for the cabins, come for the beach and come to make new friends. Come for the surf lessons! Rodrigo was even able to get this 49 year old woman surfing for the first time in her life!! He may have initiated a lifelong passion for surfing in my 17 year old daughter! Come for the peaceful, laid back vibe which overflows the hostel common areas and leaves you feeling content. When something else on your trip doesn't go as planned, this easy going feeling helps you just roll with whatever comes along.
As this was our first time to Ecuador (or even South America) we opted to have Poncho arrange for us a taxi from Manta. In hindsight, I would not hesitate to rent a car and drive to Viejamar. The roads are good. With a car you would have more freedom to visit the other cities and sites in the area such as Puerto Lopes, Montanita and the nearby Machalilla National Park. Given our lack of knowledge of the Spanish language, and our stereotypical American lack of patience, we did not always have good experiences with the local buses and taxi drivers.
That said, don’t feel like you have to go somewhere. Peace, quiet and the wonderful beach life rhythm is just inside Viejamar’s gate. You can just stay in and enjoy it.
The kitchen at Viejamar is available to cook your own lunch and dinners; however again, due to our lack of mobility and the fact that we don’t speak Spanish, we found it hard to find basics for a meal at the local shops. There are several restaurants close to Viejamar – but be sure you can read a menu in Spanish. My daughter and I are vegetarian and we found that attempting to convey this fact to the restaurant staff was more of a challenge than our very limited Spanish vocabulary could manage. Turns out in Ecuador, vegetarian often means fish and seafood are still in the food! We finally solved this problem by taking Leslie, a new member of the Viejamar staff, out to eat with us. For the price of a meal (very inexpensive I should add), we were able to order wonderful smoothies and sandwiches in Las Tunas with her help, not to mention make a new friend.
Viejamar is not a five star beach resort hotel. It is better than that. It feels like home as soon as you arrive. From storing your own perishables in the refrigerator, to cooking on the grill, to relaxing with your feet up on the coffee table while listening to good music – it just feels like home. There is one major exception to though - an unbelievable beach, complete with warm sand, gentle breezes and good surf is there too!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- We are 24 minutes north of Montañita, 3 minutes north of Ayampe and 13 minutes south of Puerto Lopez on the beach. Our Hostel are located right in front of the beach with panoramic sea views and direct access to the beach close to Las Tunas. We are between the tropical forest and the ocean, beside Machalilla National Park. This is a perfect starting point for many outdoors activities and adventures. This is a great Surf spot for beginners and advanced surfers with 2 waves: Viejamar and Las Tunas. If you want to learn, we offer Surf lessons for beginners in a friendly and quiet environment. You can cook and share a dinner, organize a barbecue, chill in the pool or drink a cold beer on our high level terrace enjoying a magical sunset. To keep the balance after an adventure, surf or quiet beach day, join us for a "Party Trip" to Montañita or a local party in one of our neighbor towns! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Viejamar Hostel Ecuador/Las Tunas