10 Years of Blog Archive

Monday, June 01, 2015

Which Beach Town is Safer, Manta, Bahia, or Salinas?

All three (bigger size) beach towns are quite safe in the tourist zones. Salinas tourist area has a excellent police presence. In Salinas they are still working on improving and updating the homes up to three rows back from the Malecon. Every time we go back to visit Salinas the neighborhood area behind the high rise condos looks more updated and well kept.  And the homeowners have put much bigger price tags on the homes as a result. See the chapter on Salinas real estate in this guide for more detail.

Anything further back than three rows you are out of the Salinas tourist zone and would be considered walking off the beaten path, until you get to the Paseo Shopping Mall, which here you’ll find it is a bit more touristy with expat enclaves.

Frank and I have always walked off the beaten path in Salinas without issues; however, we always walk during the day time hours. A viewer did leave a comment on one of our “off the beaten path” videos in Salinas, saying to stay out of the area we were in, calling it “no man’s land”; it was somewhere on the other side of the point by the airport.

There are a few more neighborhoods in Salinas that local homeowners are trying to improve for the foreign invasion.  They are putting out “community watch signs” and fixing up a few of the homes, hoping to rent out their homes at tourist prices; many of the ads now say, “close to Supermaxi”, hoping to put a $500 rent price on a $200 home. 
Salinas 4 or 5 rows back
Remember, if you live in one of these neighborhoods in a detached home it needs to have security features such as whole house alarm, tall fence, and if other homes in the area have electrical fence, it is highly recommended to have that as well, otherwise you will get broken into, at some point. There are now a lot more expats that live all over in Salinas which means more thievery, pick-pockets and home invasions. 

In the Manta tourist zone we walked all over the place and felt safe. Manta’s tourist zone also has a good police presence; it was well kept, and we felt very safe walking around during the day. We even walked off the beaten path, all the way over to the Mercado (not the central one) in the Tarqui district. It seemed a bit dodgier, but it was morning and we had nothing on us but a few bucks to buy some produce with. We also had a pretty good sized fish lunch with the best aji sauce we've ever had right across the street from the Mercado for $3.00 dollars. See the video below.

Manta has a fairly good police presence in the tourist areas, and there are always a lot of people milling about and we felt fairly safe, but once you walk away from the touristy areas you’re basically on your own.

In the tourist zone of Bahia, most local homes are painted and updated, money permitting of course. This is a good tell-tell sign that the community cares about their neighborhood and will help watch over everyone else, which actually deters crime considerably.  Although we were told to put our camera away when we were walking outside of the tourist sector in Bahia.

We felt safer walking off the beaten path in Salinas and Bahia than in Manta. Manta is a bigger city and we did not see a very big police presence when we walked off the beaten path. Considering that, we felt the winner for safest bigger-sized beach town in Ecuador was a tossup between Bahia and Salinas.  But that’s just a comparison.
Salinas, Ecuador

Both Salinas and Bahia seemed to be quite safe during the day for a (bigger) beach city/town.  Still, because there is a bigger police presence in Salinas, it might be ahead of Bahia for being the safest (bigger) beach town in Ecuador out of the three, especially when off the beaten path. 

TIP: This assessment is relatively speaking.  In no way should you ever be off your guard in any area at the coast. The best way to stay safe on the Ecuador coast, no matter where you live is to stay alert, blend in and integrate, stay oriented, don’t be too trusting, and acquaint yourself with the local neighbors in the area you decide to live in.

FYI: At night there is no one on the beaches anywhere on the  Ecuador coast. 

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


  1. I am discouraged by the ubiquitous crime you report about in your blog posts. I have not traveled much, but in several trips to southeast Asia I did not worry about crime. I took normal precautions, nothing more than I would do in the US, and yes sometimes taxis would try to take advantage. But nothing like what you talk about. It seems very constraining to not be able to take an evening walk, go out after dark, live behind fences...not sure I would want to take that on even as a traveler. Was planning on a backpack trip to South America, but...rethinking.

    1. Re-thinking is not a bad thing. How much do you really really need to be out at night, etc. We live well in Ecuador almost no crime issues because we stand by certain principles which we write about in many of our articles. You should also read the individual ebooks on any area you're interested in. All our information is educational and is designed to inform in a positive way. You take what you learn and apply it in a positive way. There are other great reasons to live in Ecuador and if one is fully informed they can make better choices and become savvy South American travelers. That's what it's all about. But as you say, its a big world out there, you might have many other options.


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