The Spondylus Route (Ruta del Spondylus) is a tourist, historical and cultural route along the Ecuador’s Coastal Region. Besides from being a route to enjoy the beaches and gastronomy that Ecuador has, it is a trip to know the pre-Columbian cultures that settled in these lands which give us a look at how lived the first inhabitants of the coasts of South America.
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 begins from Esmeraldas and continues along the Vía del Pacífico (Highway E15 Troncal del Pacífico), crossing through Manabi, Santa Elena, Guayas, El Oro and even Loja, and ends in northern Peru.
It is a tour of fishing villages, protected areas, museums and archaeological sites, tourist resorts and adventure spots where you can practice countless water sports such as surfing, diving, kitesurfing, etc.
If you dare to do it, you will find a road network in good condition, public transportation, hotels and other infrastructure necessary for the tourist to feel comfortable and enjoy the living of 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 since it served as the main means 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 on the Spondylus Route?
You can start enjoying all the beautiful beaches and the typical food of ecuadorian coastal region. But you can also do adventure trips or cultural tourism (visit the protected areas and their museums) so you can have another look at this area, its history and its ecosystem.
The main attraction of adventure is the Surf Route, a route of more than 560 km of beaches that starts from Playas (Guayas) to Atacames (Esmeraldas), and includes spots in the Galapagos Islands. The Surf Route only includes the beaches that have the conditions to practice the sport.
But in addition to surfing, you can also do other adventure sports such as diving, snorkeling, kitesurfing, bodyboarding, paragliding, among others.
Reserves and protected areas
This area has a National Park and various reserves and refuges that you can visit. Here we name them:
- 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 .
You can also visit the museums in the area and learn a little more about the pre-columbian cultures that settled on the Ecuadorian coasts.
The entrance cost for these museums is not much and you will be able to know the history of these towns:
- Archaeological Museum of Manta
- Museo de la Casa de la Cultura de Guayaquil
- Amantes de Sumpa
- Archaeological Museum of Salango
- Valdivia Museum and Aquarium
- Farallon Dillon
- Museo Naval Arqueológico Siglo XXI
- Museum of Bahía de Caráquez
- Vegas Archaeological Site
On the other hand, the cultures that make up this route date back millions of years ago. Many of them were the first inhabitants of America. Here we name a few: Las Vegas, Valdivia, Manteño, La Tolita.
Enjoy its beaches
Ecuadorian beaches towns still preserve the rural and fishing environment of their areas. There are more developed beaches with urban infrastructure, but in most of them you are still in contact with nature and coastal life.
Beaches of the Spondylus Route
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.
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