salinas ecuador

Salinas, Ecuador: Local’s Guide for Travelers and Expats [2023]

Among the tiny beach towns that dot the coast of Ecuador, Salinas stands out as a vibrant and lively town beloved by both international visitors and local travelers. Easily accessible from Ecuador’s “coastal capital” of Guayaquil and home to a great array of hotels, restaurants, and plenty of things to do, it’s no wonder that Salinas is one of the most popular coastal destinations in Ecuador.

We’ve visited Salinas on countless occasions during our years spent living in Ecuador and found more to love on every visit. This guide to Salinas has everything you need to know about how to get to Salinas and all the things to do, places to stay, and places to eat in Salinas to enjoy a perfect beach getaway.

salinas ecuador beach

Salinas Ecuador

Salinas may not be packed with Ecuador’s most famous tourist attractions, big-name excursions, or unmissable events, but as one of the most convenient and beautiful small cities along the coast, it has plenty to offer. An easy drive from bustling Guayaquil means that the beaches of Salinas, Ecuador swell every weekend with visitors, adding incredible vibrancy to this small seaside city.

While a number of beaches in Salinas could easily be considered among some of the best beaches in Ecuador, the city’s main crescent-shaped beachfront is the biggest draw for visitors. A seaside promenade and plenty of places to eat, drink, and wile away the hours along the shore make it the best place to be in town.

Salinas is also a popular destination for expats looking to escape to Ecuador for the long haul, whether it be retirees longing for a (relatively) affordable beach condo retirement or remote workers looking for a laid-back place to enjoy after logging off for the day.

Salinas doesn’t have as large of an expat community as you’ll find in Cuenca, Ecuador, but it’s a great choice nonetheless.

Read More: Ecuador Backpacking + Budget Travel Guide

What is Salinas Ecuador Known For?

Salinas is primarily known for its beautiful golden sands and long beachfront, which has long made it a favorite beach resort town in Ecuador. With its array of nice hotels and plush condos, it’s known as one of the most upscale resort towns in Ecuador and offers the great shopping and restaurants you’d expect from such a destination.

Is Salinas Ecuador Worth Visiting?

Salinas is definitely worth visiting! If you’re looking for a beach getaway in Ecuador, it’s one of the most popular places to choose from.

Salinas can be a great choice for those looking for a beachfront resort town with plenty of conveniences. Here, you’ll find plenty of grocery stores, restaurants, easy and abundant transportation options, and tons of hotels and apartment rentals to choose from – that can’t be said about most other beach towns in Ecuador.

If you’re after a smaller town with an even more laid-back, carefree, beachy feel, consider Puerto Lopex instead; it’s just two hours up the coast and is one of our favorite beach towns in Ecuador.

Beaches in Salinas

The main beach in Salinas is divided into two main stretches, with the Malecón seafront promenade extending down both of them. In the middle is the Salinas Yacht Club, diving Salinas Beach to the east from San Lorenzo and Chipipe Beaches to the west.

Salinas Beach

Playa Salinas is the most lively, vibrant beach in town, offering the greatest array of water sports, activities, and beachside restaurants, bars, and vendors. This beachfront also tends to be the most crowded. You’ll find a party-like atmosphere most of the time, though drinking isn’t permitted on the beach.

San Lorenzo Beach

The stretch of beach to the west of the yacht club is known as San Lorenzo Beach (Playa San Lorenzo). It tends to be more popular with surfers as there tend to be more waves breaking in this part of the beach. For better swimming, walk further west down the beach to Chipipe Beach.

Chipipe Beach

Further west of San Lorenzo Beach, Playa de Chipipe is a more laid-back area of beachfront that tends to be more popular with families and those looking for a relaxing beach day in town.

You’ll find a good number of restaurants and shops along the beach, as well as the standard watersports activities and wandering food vendors. However, it’s much less than you’ll find at busier Salinas Beach.

salinas ecuador hotels
Courtesy of Playa Canela Boutique Hotel

Places To Stay in Salinas, Ecuador

Chescos Hostel & Hotel ($)

There aren’t many true hostels in Salinas given the city’s more upscale feel, especially in comparison to the endless other beachtowns nearby that feel made for backpackers. However, visitors looking for budget accommodations will love Chescos Hostel & Hotel.

Located beachfront, this affordable hostel has simple but comfortable dorm and private rooms, as well as a great bar and restaurant.

Reviews and Bookings: Chescos Hostel & Hotel

Hosteria Ecologica El Faro ($$)

Hosteria Ecologica El Faro is the definition of a beach escape in Salinas. If you’re looking for a laid-back place to stay slightly outside of the more hectic areas of town, this is the spot! The abundant greenery and oceanfront location will make you feel like you’re in a tiny coastal fishing village while enjoying the convenience of being in town.

Reviews and Bookings: Hosteria Ecologica El Faro

Playa Canela Boutique Hotel ($$$)

Our favorite place to stay in Salinas is Playa Canela Boutique Hotel; this small boutique hotel is more like a bed and breakfast, with plenty of space and personalized service for guests – we really loved it. The pool deck with ocean views is perfect for enjoying the oceanfront location. The decor is nothing special, but with all this charming hotel has to offer it’s no wonder it’s considered the best place to stay in Salinas.

Reviews and Bookings: Playa Canela Boutique Hotel

Travel Essential

Don’t think about traveling without a good VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers. We’ve used NordVPN for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, at home or abroad. 

things to do in salinas ecuador
mark52 / Depositphotos

Things To Do in Salinas, Ecuador

Most travelers visiting Salinas are more than happy to visit the beach and enjoy the laid-back beach town vibes and great seafood in town. Looking for a bit more to fill your time? These are the best things to do in Salinas, Ecuador:

1. Visit La Chocolatera

La Chocolatera is the dramatic, rocky point of the Salinas peninsula, known as the westernmost point in mainland Ecuador. Giant waves crash along rocks to create what resembles a bowl of chocolate, hence the name of the spot. It’s a powerful sight, but most visitors are even more interested in spotting the colony of seals that calls this area home.

You can’t swim here – save that for the beautiful crescent-shaped golden beach in the center of town – but it’s well worth a visit. You’ll feel like you’re in Seaworld here amidst the seals and the frequent whale sightings from the lighthouse.

Travel Tip: Make sure to bring your passport (or other ID card) with you to access this area! La Chocolatera is located within a military base, so visitors are sometimes asked to show ID to access it – though not always.

2. Eat Seafood

The Ecuadorian province of Manabí may be best known for its seafood dishes, but Salinas has its own delicious array of seafood restaurants that show off the best of Ecuador. Cevicheria El Velero and Lui e Lui are two famous destinations worth a specific mention, though all along the Malecón seafront promenade you’ll find great seafood spots.

Favorite seafood dishes along the coast include ceviche, numerous types of grilled and baked fish, and a style of dishes called encocado, which involves cooking various types of seafood in coconut milk. You’ll have an endless option of seafood dishes to choose from, though ceviche and encocado are always winners.

What To Pack for Ecuador

Check out our Ultimate Ecuador Packing List to help you pack for your trip – we’re sharing exactly what to bring to Ecuador and what we never travel without.

3. Walk the Malecón

The long, arching golden beachfront of Salinas is the main attraction of this small city; head straight to the Malecón – a long seafront walkway – to find all the best of Salinas. From beachfront restaurants and bars to shopping, live music, and impromptu events, there’s always something happening here.

The Malecón can get busy on the weekends when locals from Guayaquil flock here, and gets quite crowded on long holiday weekends. However, it’s the place to be in town, making a long stroll along the Malecón one of the best things to do in Salinas.

4. Go Whale Watching

Coastal Ecuador is well known as a world-class destination for whale watching during the summer months, and Salinas is no exception. Salinas is one of the best whale-watching spots in Ecuador during whale-watching season, which extends from June through October or November.

If you’re lucky, you may be able to spot them breaching from the balcony of your hotel room. However, if you don’t want to leave such a magical experience up to chance, make sure to book a dedicated whale-watching tour. You’ll find tours leaving from Salinas directly, though tours from Puerto Lopez – a small beach town about two hours up the coast – tend to be more impressive.

Read More: 25+ Best Things To Do in Ecuador

salinas ecuador restaurants

Places To Eat in Salinas, Ecuador

Cevicheria El Velero

Few spots in Salinas are better known for their incredible seafood dishes than Cevicheria El Velero, named after its incredible ceviche but famous for a number of dishes. Fried rice with shrimp and grilled fish are also among the best dishes here. We had the encebollado, a fish and onion soup dish that is famous on the coast of Ecuador; it was one of the best we had on our trip!

Cafe Jazz

You’ll find a mix of Ecuadorian and international dishes at Cafe Jazz, located just a block off of the beachfront walkway in Salinas. There’s a beautiful outdoor patio, shaded and filled with greenery, that is a favorite remote work spot thanks to a strong internet connection and great vibes.

Common Grounds

For a filling American-style breakfast or an afternoon coffee break, Common Grounds is the best place in Salinas. Breakfast burritos with bacon and strong coffee are highlights, but lunch dishes and pastries mean you could stay here all day if you wanted to!

places to stay in salinas ecuador

Travel Essential

Don’t head out on your adventure without comprehensive travel insurance! Good travel insurance may cover lost or stolen gear, medical emergencies, delayed or canceled flights, and more. Check out the policies available from SafetyWing or compare plans using Visitors Coverage.

Getting To Salinas, Ecuador

Most travelers visiting Salinas travel through Guayaquil, located about two hours to the east. Whether travelers are flying through the international airport in Guayaquil or via bus from other regions of Ecuador, Guayaquil is the universal gateway for this beach town and many others along the coast.

Guayaquil to Salinas

Buses leave the main Guayaquil bus terminal frequently for Salinas. You’ll find numerous bus companies offering seats on this route throughout the day, meaning it’s very unlikely you’ll have to do much advanced planning for your journey; just show up at the bus station and find the next departing bus. The journey takes just over two hours.

Alternatively, take a taxi to Salinas or grab a seat on one of the Turismo Ruta Del Sol passenger vans to Salinas. These mini buses are more comfortable and direct than larger tourist buses and only cost a few dollars more per passenger.

Read More: Guayaquil, Ecuador: Ultimate Traveler’s Guide

carley rojas avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.