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Mompiche: One of the Last Ecuador Beach Paradises

Palms on Mompiche Beach, Ecuador

Palms on Mompiche Beach, Ecuador

A love of food, the beach and a birthday brought us to Mompiche

One of the last idyllic and untouched beaches in Ecuador, Mompiche was a wonderful surprise birthday treat. My boyfriend Simon was recommended Cabañas Iruña by our Ecuadorian neighbor – simple, secluded, right on the beach and the caretaker Teresa was an excellent cook.  He was sold!

Cabañas Iruña was a little hard to reach, and indeed to find, tucked away from the beachfront amongst great, umbrella-like almond trees.  But the journey was definitely worth the effort.

To reach Mompiche, we took an overnight bus to Muisne departing about 10pm from Trans Esmeraldas in Quito.  Of all the bus lines we have traveled with, this one has had the safest drivers;  I highly recommend them.

Our first taste of the coast, Muisne was a lively, fishing hub with no lack of boats and colorful, (Afro-Ecuadorian style) houses. The humid, salty air and lazy accents of the locals transported me to another world from the Andean Ecuador I had become accustomed.

Muisne Fishing Port

Muisne Fishing Port



I’d spent the night in complete darkness (literally) about where we were headed. So although it was early morning, I was a mix of tired excitement, alert with anticipation.

Simon had organized for us to be picked up in Muisne.  A tanned, sinewy Ecuadorian fisherman arrived in a small fishing boat decorated with flecks of random paints, to take us to the surprise destination.

The powerful boat flew across the water into mangrove forests and a narrow estuary. The salt-water spray invigorated our tired minds after the long bus trip, while our friendly pilot pointed out wildlife along the way.

Muisne Mangroves

Muisne Mangroves


A quick 20 minutes later, we docked at a makeshift pontoon of yellow sandbags and followed the fisherman into the thick mangroves.  I was incredibly excited to find a quaint collection of wooden cabañas, grand fig trees, two gorgeous Rottweiler dogs and a big common house acting as reception and restaurant.

Our host Teresa greeted us warmly and assured us breakfast would be ready soon. In the meantime, we settled into our beachfront, bamboo cabaña, which was simply perfect with hammock, mini porch, mini fridge (not sure what we’d need this for); and a clean bathroom, all surrounded outside by lush vegetation.  Oh, this was the life!

Our Mompiche cabaña at sunset

Our Mompiche cabaña at sunset

The entire time we were at Cabañas Iruña Teresa failed to disappoint with her culinary delights – delectable breakfasts, sumptuous coffee (I’m not even a coffee drinker but I couldn’t resist); and abundant seafood dinners.

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Cabanas Iruna Breakfast: Fresh coffee, bread, fruits, eggs and homemade jam

We spent our two days indulging in seafood, and exploring Mompiche about 40 minutes walk south along the beach (or a quick trip on low tide in a beach taxi). A small, laid-back fishing village of wood and cane, Mompiche is located in the south of Ecuador’s coastal province, Esmeraldas.

Mompiche Beach Taxi

Mompiche Beach Taxi

Famous mainly for its lobsters and prawns, the town had one dirt main road, many seafood restaurants and a sprinkling of ceviche food carts. Something about the mish-mash of hostels, hotels, paintings on walls and chilled vibe reminded me of the very beginnings of the coastal hippie town of Byron Bay in Australia.

Mompiche Ceviche Food Stalls

Mompiche Ceviche Food Stalls

Besides fishing, eating, swimming and sunbaking, Mompiche is a place for relaxing. One morning we wandered up to spy the “catch of the day.”  We learned the lobsters (langostas) were being over-fished. As the town depends principally on shrimp fishing and now tourism, I anticipate environmental problems in the near future.

Mompiche Fisherman

Mompiche Fisherman

Despite the development of a mega, all-inclusive resort,  Royal Decameron Mompiche, about eight kilometres south, Mompiche and the surrounding area still does not have potable water. Like two separate worlds, Ecuador seems to be playing a game of catch up; on the one hand building grand resorts, but on the other not building the infrastructure to support it.

Like the majority of Ecuador’s coast, the area is about to undergo serious development in the coming years so I would definitely recommend a visit sooner, rather than later.

Upon returning to Quito, I learned that Mompiche is also famous for its left point surf break, but we had just missed the  December through April season.

Tourists also come to whale-watch (between June and October), and explore the nearby Mache-Chindul Ecological reserve, one of the last remaining areas of tropical, wet forest on the Ecuadorian coast. Established in 1996, the reserve covers about 70,000 hectares of exotic landscape with waterfalls, natural pools surrounded by undisturbed forest.

Though we were led to Mompiche by our passion for food, I would love to return to explore the region’s bio diverse landscape. There are so many reasons to go back!

“El Cangrejo” Crab – Mompiche

“El Cangrejo” Crab – Mompiche

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One Comment

  1. You found paradise. I kind of hope this place stays a secret if it’s that amazing. great article!