The Local’s Guide to Surfing in Montanita Ecuador 2018

Surfing in Montanita has a long tradition stretching back to the mid-1960's. Our resident local Montanita surfing insider Geoff Lynch (aka Chincho) has everything you need to get the best out of Montanita surfing in 2018 and beyond.
Surfing in Montanita in the sunset in front of The Point
A surfer in the sunset in front of The Point at Montanita Beach (photo by Enrique Rodriguez)

Montanita beach is a peaceful stretch of sands backed by the iconic and memorable rocky Point (called ‘La Punta’) that looms up over the north end of the beach and out into the Pacific.

The surfing community here has a laid-back ambiance. It’s a friendly surf oriented place, with plenty of relaxing and inexpensive places to stay practically right on the water. And anything you need to surf is available here:  gear, rentals, surf camps, and surf classes.

So when people in South America and around the world think of the best Ecuador surf towns, Montanita always comes top of mind.

Montanita surf gets breaks from all directions

One of the best things about Montanita surf is that we get all swell directions: North, South, and West.

So there are 3 distinct wave types that catch all directions of swell:

  • The beach break in town we call ‘Pueblo’
  • The right-hand point break is called `La Punta`
  • And left-hand beach break near the point

There’s something for all levels of surfing. It’s a high-performance wave. With a good swell, you can surf it all day, through low and high tide.

The best surfing favors mid to high tide. But low-to-mid tides can be good as well. In fact – as long as there’s a swell and conditions, almost all tides are good.

A surfer catching air in front of the Point at Montanita Beach
Surfer catching air in front of the Point at Montanita (photo by John Londres photography)

All seasons have good to great surfing in Montanita

The best Montanita surf season is in our Summer, which – because we’re south of the Equator – comes in December through April (what we call the ‘high season’).

That’s when the north swells come. The Panama and El Nino currents bring warm water from the North and keeps the sky mainly sunny and cloudless. The waters are a bit warmer and it’s sunnier here. So (oddly enough) you’ll catch some of the best waves by surfing Ecuador in January.

The other 6 months out of the year from May through November (the ‘low season’) bring the South swells, and they’re fun as well. The weather and surf conditions aren’t quite as favorable as in high season though.

It’s not as sunny here during Winter. It doesn’t get too cold, but the Humboldt current comes stronger from the South in low season. That causes it to be a little bit cooler and more cloudy. However, it’s still really good surfing and worth the trip to come all year round.

Surfing is the Seed of Montanita

La Punta is the anchor of the town. Actually, the whole town of Montanita we see today was built around the community that sprung up up near the rocky cliffs starting in the mid 1960’s. 

Up until the mid to late 80’s, people would make the long difficult journey by car just to come here to surf and camp out on the beach. Even through the 90’s you only had few rustic options for room/food and still with a long journey to get here.

Then little restaurants started opening up to cater to the surfers – then, one-by-one some places to stay opened up – and it grew from there. The whole town developed around surfing at the point.

The surfing here was the seed that made Montanita grow.

Pick a spot that fits your level

There’s plenty of space in the water for all levels of surfers at Montanita beach. You just have to go to the right area that’s appropriate for your level.

The beach break Pueblo is best for beginners. Although there are some places where undertows are less frequent than others, they can turn up anywhere.

Surfing up by the rocky La Punta is fun – but the truth is it should be for experienced Surfers only. At low tide the waters at the Point are shallow and undertows are strong.

We have a lot of talent and competitive surfers by the Point. You need to have your etiquette in order. You shouldn’t be out there if you don’t know what you’re doing, because that’s dangerous for yourself and others. You need to know how to dodge people both on the board and off.

Surfer riding a big swell in front of Montanita Beach
Surfer rides the big swell at Montanita Beach (photo by John Londres photography)

… and watch that undertow!

At Montanita beach there are at least some undertows in all conditions, big or small. The undertow is strongest when the tide is going from high to low.

The first thing is to make sure to be mindful of where you are at all times. We have lifeguards here, but often there are more people than they can completely cover. So the surfers here also act as lifeguards.

Make sure there are people around for your own safety. Having people around when you’re in the water is a good thing, so in case you do get into a situation there’s somebody to help you.

Learn how to spot undertows by the texture of the water: it’s a bit more choppy on the surface, and on a bright clear day the color of the water has a darker shade. The undertow is basically an underwater river pulling out when the water pulls away, then the wet sand below is revealed and you can see the sand disturbed.

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Montanita surf competitions are Local, National and International

A photo of Sunny Garcia at Montanita Beach

We have local surf competitions frequently throughout the year in town and up near La Punta. We also have National surf competitions, usually two or three per year. Then we host international competitions once every year or two, including the ISA World Masters Surf Championship.

We’ve had World Champion surfers here such as Sunny Garcia, Layne Beachley, as well as top competitors Magnum Martinez, Kalani Robb and Jimmy Hogan among others. Tournament sponsors have included Reef and Pilsner.

Many of the top surfers travel elsewhere during low season and return for the high season. But year-round the locals still rule the water.

In recent years some tournaments have been hosted at other Ecuador beach towns to bring try and bring some additional tourism to those beaches.

Tres Palmas Hostel in Montanita

Experience the Surf on a Point Break

Tres Palmas Hostel & restaurant is 20 minutes from Ayampe and is perfect for surfers, couples, families and everyone who enjoys a relaxed beach vibe.

Beachfront ~ Private Rooms ~ AC ~ Hot Water ~ WIFI ~ Parking ~  Restaurant ~ Bar  

Surfboard & Fishing Rentals ~ Classes from beginner to expert!


MONTANITA SURFING RESOURCES

The best places to stay and get gear for surfing in Montanita are up near La Punta. Our little surfers’ community is at the north end of the Via De La Punta (Point Road) that runs parallel to the ocean and dead ends at Baja Montanita. This is the place to be if you want to surf in Montanita with an authentic vibe.

It’s quiet and relaxed here on the north end of the beach. This area is close enough to town for you to go out and enjoy the infamous Montanita nightlife and have fun, then come back to your little sanctuary.  You can sleep well, wake up at dawn – then walk right out onto the beach and hit the waves before the crowds come. It’s all about a positive, active lifestyle.

SURF: Montanita Surf Gear Rental

Tres Palmas Surf Shop

Balsa House Surf Camp & Rentals

STAY:  Accomodations Near La Punta

Tres Palmas Hotel

Casa del sol

Hostal Sole Mare

Balsa Surf Camp

Hanga Roa

Pelicano

Rosa Mistica

Baja Montanita

EAT:  The Best Cuisine Near La Punta

The Shanka at Tres Palmas

L’Eden at Balsa House

Marea Pizza at Baja Montanita

Geoff Lynch 'Chincho'

Geoff Lynch 'Chincho'

Born and raised in Central Florida, I moved to Ecuador in 2008 and never looked back. I'm the owner/operator of Tres Palmas Hotel at the Montanita Point offering rooms, restaurant, surfing rentals, and lessons. I'm also an associate of the brand new Villas Punta Vista development overlooking the town.

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