The Spondylus Route (Ruta del Spondylus) is a touristic, historical and cultural route along the Ecuador’s Coastal Region.
Aside from being a route to discover many beach towns and the traditional food in Ecuador, it is a trip to learn about the pre-Columbian cultures that settled in these lands and which provides a look at how the first inhabitants of the coasts of South America lived.
This route is an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism and complements the popularly known Sun Route (Ruta del Sol) and the Surf Route in Ecuador.
Spondylus Route Map
The Spondylus Route starts in Esmeraldas and continues along the Via del Pacifico (E15 Troncal del Pacifico highway), passing through Manabi, Santa Elena, Guayas, El Oro and even Loja, finishing in northern Peru.
It is a journey through fishing villages, protected areas, museums, archaeological sites and adventure spots where you can enjoy many water sports such as surfing, diving, kite surfing, etc.
The roads to this route are in good condition, and at the same time you have a good public transportation system, hotels and other infrastructure necessary for the tourist to feel comfortable and enjoy the life of the local people.
Why is it called Spondylus Route?
Its name is due to the Spondylus shell, a mollusk of great importance for the pre-hispanic cultures of the western coasts of America, as it was used as the main source of trade, food and even to make ornaments.
Nowadays this shell is in danger of extinction, but Ecuador maintains programs for its conservation.
What to do at the Spondylus Route?
The Spondylus Route is mainly dedicated for tourists to visit all the beaches of Ecuador.
But during the tour you can also do adventure tourism, or explore protected areas and museums so you can have a different view of this area, its history and ecosystem.
The main attraction is the Surf Route: more than 560 km of beach surf towns from Playas (Guayas) to Atacames (Esmeraldas), including the Galapagos Islands.
The Surf Route only includes the beaches that have the conditions to practice surf.
But in addition to surfing, you can also do other adventure sports such as diving, snorkeling, kitesurfing, bodyboarding, paragliding, among others.
Visit protected areas
This area has a National Park and various reserves and refuges that you can visit:
- Machalilla National Park
- Área Nacional de Recreación Playas de Villamil
- Reserva de Producción de Fauna Marino Costera Puntilla de Santa Elena
- Reserva de Producción de Fauna Manglares El Salado
- El Pelado.
- Bajo Cope.
- Cantagallo – Machalilla
- Galera San Francisco
- Santa Clara Island.
- Mache Chindul.
- Manglares Churute.
- Cayapas Mataje.
- Manglares El Morro.
- La Chiquita.
- Manglares Estuario Río Esmerladas.
- Manglares Estuario Río Muisne.
- Islas Corazón y Fragata.
- Marino Costera Pacoche.
You can learn more about these reserves and refuges here .
Throughout the Ecuadorian coast there are other tours to learn about local people, its costumes, and pre-columbian cultures that settled on these lands. Some of these routes are:
- Cacao Route
- Route of the toquilla straw hat
- Archaeological sites
The entrance fee to many of this spots is affordable and you can learn about their history.
What are the main beach towns in the spondylus route?
Although there are developed beaches with urban infrastructure, most of them preserve their traditional atmosphere of coastal life.
Hotels on the Spondylus Route
Here is a list of accommodations on the Spondylus Route, a selection of hotels facing the sea or in the center of the communes so that you can take some time to enjoy the best beaches in Ecuador.