10 Years of Blog Archive

Monday, May 11, 2015

8 Ways to Get Oriented and Stay Safe When Visiting Ecuador Beach Towns

It can be overwhelming when folks first arrive in a new place because well, you do not know where anything is located, who to trust, and where the bad areas are. It can be frustrating and a bit intimidating, at first.

Here is a good checklist to carry out when first arriving into a new beach town in Ecuador. These things are what we have become accustomed to doing while traveling anywhere in Ecuador. We do them and we recommend you do them too.

1.  Always ask various locals about the crime and types of crimes in a new town you are investigating for permanent living.

2. Some locals will minimize crime in their city, so you will have to get several opinions, not just one. However, it is good to ask various people to get a balanced view; ask families, business owners, young people, etc.

3.  Ask workers at the local tourist office, in the bigger towns, which neighborhoods to stay out of. Have them mark the areas on your personal map. We asked them to do this for us when in Manta and the nice service oriented young gal did it for us.

4.  Heed the warnings of other expats and what they have experienced. Learn from their mistakes.

5.  When in a new town, always do a walk-around (during the day) of the area to get oriented. This helped us quite a bit because on a different day, when we hired a motor-trike to take us to the terminal terrestre, we knew the driver was not going the direct way (probably to overcharge us) and we corrected him right away, and then simply handed him the correct fare of .50 cents.

BTW, some taxi drivers in Cuenca do the same thing to get a bigger fare from passengers.  They take the long way, going around the whole outskirts of the city which takes twice as long and costs twice as much.

6. Always look at online maps before going somewhere just to get a mental picture of how the town is laid out; this helps us to figure out where we’ll be when we land at the bus station in a new town. The online maps usually show where the TIA Grocery Mart is located, the tourist office, some of the hostels and restaurants, and the main road into and out of town, etc.

7.  Have a place of reference to go to when you’re headed into a new town; we almost always have an address and a name of a hostel, and a phone number.etc. This way you can just hand the moto-trike or taxi driver the name on an index card, if you do not speak Spanish. 

Note: We list 22 comfortable places to stay, starting from Playas to Atacames in the DIY Coastal Guide with photos, amenities, and rates!!  As you know we are on the ground checking out all the lodgings (in detail) that we list for our readers and you will get the best value for the buck in our guide books!!

8. Do not act disoriented, even If you lose track of where you are. And by all means, don’t open your map out in public if you can help it. Go into a coffee shop and sit down and then look at your map.  We stop and look around often just to help us get a mental picture of where we started so we can easily return. Stay aware of everything around you. Find things that stand out to you and use them as landmarks for later reference.

On another note, when we were in Manta, we found out that it is dangerous to be out after 8pm even in areas that during the day are ok, which was fine (for us) since we don't go out after dark anyway.

Note: do not hail taxis off the street, especially in Salinas, Manta, Atacames and Guayaquil; have the motel manager call one for you, even if it is during the day. Most taxis are ok to take, however don't be a part of the statistics of getting in the wrong taxi just because you think it or the driver seems safe.

Stay Vigilant

Besides our usual safety precautions we share on our blog, the only other safety measures that you will need to be aware of is the occasional scammer and con artist that knows how to rob you without you even knowing it, until it is too late. Sometimes they will make friends with you and make you trust them, other times they are just random acts of tricks and schemes that happen in a period of seconds like the mustard tricks.  

Our best word of advice is to keep your wits about you. Your safety is all up to you and your measure of vigilance. The Ecuador coast can be a fun adventure as long as you remain cautious of what's going on around you in the different environments, day or night.

This article was taken from our DIY Ecuador Coast Travel Guide. The DIY Ecuador Coast Travel Guide is the most detailed and non-hyped book you will read about the Ecuador coast!!

If you liked this article, you might want to give these videos and articles a lookie too.


We have many Ecuador Coast Adventures to share with you in the coastal guide and on this blog! At the top of the Discover Cuenca blog, click "ECUADOR BEACHES" for 22 coastal towns in Ecuador; details, details, and more details!!

We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy the Discover Cuenca Ecuador blog!

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