Coastal Highway, EcuadorEcuadorians have not built handy dandy rest stops or view points along the majority of their new highways. This can be frustrating as you drive along the gorgeous coast and simply want to stop to take a picture or spend a few minutes walking along the sandy beach. Fortunately, a fairly long strip between San Pablo and Monteverde provides plenty of opportunity to snap photos of pretty views and and gander at a wide variety of shorebirds. There are no official pull-outs but after a year and a half of Ecuadorian driving, we’ve decided this stretch of highway provides some of the safest double parking along the coast. There is actually a soft shoulder to pull out on.

LitterThe beach is ample and wide and just made for walking. An ocean breeze kissed our faces and made the hot sun a little more bearable. As always in Ecuador, we wore lots of sunscreen to protect us from the harsh equatorial rays. We did a little beachcombing, which was complicated by the holiday weekend garbage that was being pushed around by the waves. We still do not understand why so many locals are willing to litter their beautiful beaches. Then I remember that it took we North Americans a decade or two of serious littering before we caught on. I hope Ecuadorians realize much sooner than we did.

A Pair of Oyster CatchersAnd we certainly did our fair share of birdwatching. The noise was unbelievable – shorebirds of all kinds squawking and peeping and yammering away, all backed by the sounds of crashing surf. Pelicans in formation soared high overhead; a few rested solo or in pairs on the damp sand below. Oyster Catchers played follow the leader in the surf. Gulls and terns seemed not to mind our presence and allowed us to come very close. Of course, the camera lens was not as welcome and when it made an appearance, many of the birds took flight. But, overall, we were able to get better photos than a similar beachfront birding experience in the US.

If you would like to visit this beach but do not have your own car, you could hire a guide and/or taxi from many of the small towns along the Ruta del Sol. This beach was only about 40 minutes outside of Salinas and even closer to the famous surf town of Montañita.

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