December 1, 2013 — Atacames is a beautiful beach town on the northern Pacific coast of Ecuador, in the Province of Esmeraldas. It’s waterfront has a string of hotels, restaurants, and my favorite, the Tiki Bars that line the beach, serving up exotic and delicious tropical drinks, starting at around $6.00.
Our guests from the States, Fred and I stayed at the Arco Iris Resort right along the beach. Arco Iris is really not a hotel, but rather, individually owned condo units, suites and cabins that the resort manages for the many owners who, no doubt, call either Quito or a nearby city home, making Atacames their weekend or vacation retreat. The apartments, suites and cabins are then rented out to nightly guests, like ourselves, when the owners of these units are not there to make use of them.
The resort is very secure and the condo units are equipped with the basic kitchen essentials. There was a flat screen television, a balcony, good air conditioning, plenty of hot water, elevators, heavy towels, a dry bath mat, even shampoo and soap. The pool looks out over the ocean and the cabins down below have their own pool. All I can say is, we really enjoyed our stay here for just $40.00 per night without an ocean view — an ocean view is more and the larger apartments and suites also rent for more.
Tricis are used here for taxis (what Fred and I like to call Tut-Tuts, in some areas they’re called triciculos) and the going rate is .50 cents per person.
Really good pizza was found at Ramon’s Pizza. He worked in Italy as a pizza maker for 8 years and it showed. His pizzas are baked in a brick wood-fired oven and were absolutely delicious. We would not order the Chorizo pizza again, however — the Chorizo (sausage) looked and tasted like nothing more than a hotdog (Salchicha), but still a delicious pizza. It’s along the waterfront, on the second floor.
Another good place was El Pandao.
One really big warning though, and by no less than 4 separate locals, plus one gal from Europe visiting her brother in Atacames — who was robbed at gunpoint during a walk on the beach, and her third floor apartment was broken into via a window, as well, during her stay thus far. Fred and Craig met her in the Tia grocery store there in Atacames. Two on the resort staff, a taxi driver, and a kind gentleman who walked up to us on the beach, all told us not to wear a watch, take a cell phone, nor take anything of value onto the beach itself even during the day; and not to walk beyond the town’s resort area when strolling the beach.
Even though we were very unimpressed by the warnings of crime which has increased in the last few years according to a new guidebook, the heat even in November, as well as the food in general — we thought Playas and Salinas had better, at least thus far for us personally — not to mention the distance and the time it takes to get here — 10 hours by bus no matter the route we took, albiet beautiful — Atacames is still a nice beach town and we personally never felt threatened. If we do go again, it will be with friends who have a car which should reduce the trip to 7 or 8 hours. Or there is the Esmeraldas Airport closeby. But to be frank, if we have to spend the money and fly to get to a beach, we’ll fly into Manta and then take a bus from there to where we won’t have to be concerned with the crime mentioned above. Or fly to Guayaquil and go back to either Playas or Salinas. Or, back to the Galapagos!
When we mention Atacames to anyone that lives in our region, their response matches the slogan that we found on many of the T-shirts for sale: I Love Atacames! In fact, for the first time in many years, I actually went out there beyond the waves and played in the ocean, as the waters were clean, blue and quite warm. There is a warning in that same guidebook concerning the strong undertows, however. There are no lifeguards and several deaths do occur each year, according to that same source.
That same source also warns about walking along the beach at night in Atacames, as several people have been accosted in recent years Oh well, what are ya gonna do — crime is going up everywhere, which is why I like the promise found at Revelation 11:18 — “…and the appointed time came…….to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”
At any rate, we had a nice time, not only on the coast with our friends from the States, but their entire visit was very enjoyable for us. Better yet, they had a great time. Not to mention, it was their first time out of the US! — Canada doesn’t count. LOL