Things To Do & See
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Whale season is one of those times in life that you don’t just “see”…you “experience”! Running from June through September it is a time of year that everyone looks forward to. Very few people in the world will ever get the chance to get this close to these majestic animals. There are no words to describe the feeling of being this up close and personal. To watch as the whales take to the air, hear them crash back into the water, and feel the spray from their ocean playground…there is nothing else like it on the planet!
Mall De Pacifico
This is the new Mall Del Pacifico that is currently under construction here in Manta. At almost 1.3 million square feet with over 200 stores, restaurants, Cinemark movie theater, and 1,200 parking spaces it will be the largest shopping mall in the region. The completion date is November of 2015 and everyone is really looking forward to it!
The Supermaxi is the “Publix” or “Kroger” of Manta. Here you will find all of your essentials plus a fresh meat butcher, fresh bakery, even organic food and produce. Best thing about eating organic here is how cheap it can be. I remember paying over $6 for a package of organic spinach back in the States. That same organic spinach here is only .70 cents!!
Supermaxi also runs a special every Saturday whereby they will give you 50% bonus minutes when you recharge your Claro cell phone. So if you give them $30 they will give you $45 in total minutes!
This is little gem is San Lorenzo. A sleepy little fishing village that is a personal favorite of ours. Located just 20minutes south of Manta, it is a serene and peaceful beach known for it’s beautiful rock formations extending into the ocean. There is also a hiking trail that runs from the beach up to the top of the mountain and overlooking the point that is a must to see!
During the surfing season (Dec-April) you can also sit and watch some of the area’s best surfers take to the waves!
Cotopaxi is a strato volcano in the Andes Mountains, located about 50 km south of Quito. It is the second highest summit in the country, reaching a height of 5,897 m and is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. But fear not, it is well far enough away to never have an impact on our area of Manta. It does make for one incredible sight seeing adventure though!
This Volcano is the focal point of Ecuador’s most visited park. Here you can take part in many different excursions taking you around the area and showing you all the beauty that it has to offer. For the more adventurous of us you can even take a guided hike up to the top and get a truly unforgettable view!
For people who like to be pampered there is a wonderful establishment in town called Fancy Nails. It is a full service nail salon that offers all the services of salons back in the states. Fancy Nails is a favorite of the majority of expats and with one visit you will see why. The owner Carmen, a native of Manta who also lived in CT for 22yrs and speaks perfect English, goes out of her way to make sure that your visit is as pleasant as possible. She even offers wine, coffee, tea and pastries at no additional charge!
Her prices are only a fraction of what they would be back in the sates. For example a full manicure and pedicure with nail polish is only $18 and with no extra charge for nail art, designs or French style. She offers full nail sets with acrylic, fiberglass or gel nails and she only charges $10 for touch-ups and fills. She offers waxing services starting at only $10 so you can get everything you want in one location. She also uses only OPI nail polishes and products which anyone who is a regular of this service knows is the best available!
Make an appointment or just drop in as walk-ins are welcome, kick your shoes off, sit back in one of the luxury massage chairs and let her experienced technicians pamper you into a relaxation coma! Give Carmen a call at 098-413-1887 to book your appointment.
Banos….what can I say about Banos….it simply has something for everyone and is an absolute must on your list of places to visit! They have everything to offer from hiking, horseback riding, 4 wheelers, waterfall tours, zip-lining, canyoning (repelling down waterfall canyons), white water rafting, thermal mineral springs, relaxation spas and much much more. The Tunguragua Volcano sits just outside of Banos and is definitely worth the drive to the opposite mountain top to grab a truly breathtaking view of this majestic natural wonder.
Once to the top of the opposite mountain make sure to stop at the observation deck restaurant and swing on one of the most amazing swings the world has to offer! The food is incredible and so are the people, so with all of this it has the best of everything you need for an unforgettable trip!
If you are looking for some really beautiful art pieces to brighten up your new home, I would recommend Sigrid. Her style is truly one of a kind and her art speaks for itself. Anything from the beach and sea life that so many of us love, to the intellectual thought provoking pieces that really get us all thinking, she can do it all. See for yourself with just a few examples of her work shown here.
You may also visit her website at http://sigridtidmore.com for more info.
I must admit that I am a bit partial to Sigrid because she is in fact my “wicked stepmother” who has been with me since I was just a boy. I have watched as she has grown as an artist and really perfected her talents!
She is now finally making the move to Ecuador where she will be working full time as an artist and documenting some of the incredible scenes from around the country. She not only does one of a kind originals, but also prints large and small and is available for custom projects as well. Be sure to reach out to her when you are looking to add that little extra breath of life to your new home. You won’t be disappointed!
Umina Tennis Club & Gym
For those of you who like to stay fit, play tennis, swim, lift weights etc Umina Tennis club will easily offer you everything you need. Being the premiere athletic club in the city they have several tennis courts available, Olympic size swimming pool and gym with all of the weights, nautilus machines and cardio equipment you can handle!
High Quality Dental Work
People regularly ask me about dental work and how it is here in Ecuador compared to back in the States. We are taught in States that any dentistry or even medical work available outside of the US is pretty much barbaric and that anyone even considering the option is an absolute fool.
Ok, so here is the deal….the technology here is the same if not even a bit better depending on which dentist you visit, the level of dentist training/schooling is the same, but the price….the price is a fraction of what it would cost back in the States!
As with most people I needed to get some dental work done that I kept putting off due to the very high bill I knew was going to come with it. I decided to bite the bullet and paid $100 to get a full exam with x rays from a very respectable and well known dentist in a nice area of Orlando Florida. After the exam he asked me to remain in the chair while he went over his quote with me. After he hit me with the figure I was glad he kept me in the chair. The prognosis? A deal per him at a little over $5k. Yes that’s $5 thousand dollars! For what you ask? He told me that I needed a crown, two root canals, a good chance of surgery on part of a receding gum-line and a few cavities filled. For the crown alone he wanted $1500! Interesting little note is that he wanted to charge me to redo a root canal that had already been done years prior.
My brother and his wife, who had moved to Ecuador before me, told me to go see their dentist here and see what she had to say. Not being very eager to fork over $5k I decided to go ahead and take them up on their recommendation. I drove over to Portoviejo, a short 20 minute drive from Manta, and met with their dentist. Hearing all the worry from family and friends back home that I was about to open my mouth to a dentist still using a chisel and hammer in a dirt floor shack, I was very pleased to walk in and see a very nice, clean and well kept dental practice. Her assistant greeted me and walked me into her office where I gazed upon a brand new dental chair with all the usual equipment found back home. She even had a flat screen TV mounted on the chair whereby I could watch her work through her glasses cam, or pass the time watching a movie! (something not even my high priced dentist back in Orlando could offer)
She proceeded to give me a full exam and then bring me back over to her desk whereby she laid out all of her recommendations. She said that I in fact did not need any root canals (showed me the xrays that by the way I only paid $10 for), told me that I needed one crown, full cleaning and yes some additional cavities filled. My receding gum area she offered to perform the latest in cosmetic dentistry since she said surgery was certainly not needed. She even offered to redo a past dentists handy work from many years ago because she stated it was terrible in her personal opinion.
So down to the nitty gritty cost of all of this wonderful service…how about just $810 dollars! That’s right my friends only $810 dollars! And how much for that $1500 crown from my dentist in sunny Orlando? How about just $100 bucs!
The service was absolutely top notch and easily the best I have ever had. She was very nice, attentive and yes very gentle as well. She would regularly ask me if everything was ok and if there was anything I needed while making sure I was as comfortable as possible.
Once she was finished we settled the bill, a much more acceptable total than compared to the States, and sent me on my way good as new!
So there ya go, a direct testimony as to the incredible level of dentistry treatment and care that is on tap here in Ecuador. My story is just one of many from several different people using several different dentists in the area. So no need to worry or be scared of dentistry down here. Come on down and ease not only your mind, but your pocketbook as well!
Looking for a great Italian place to replace the one back home? You just found it! This little gem is one of the best places to eat in Manta. It is owned by a South Florida local and his wife who also own another location in one of the nicest parts of Boca Raton Florida. The menu is so extensive it might leave you spinning at first, but rest assured you can’t go wrong with your dinner selection as everything on the menu is prepared to perfection.
While we are in love with the food, it is the incredible ambiance that really made this one of our favorite dinner destinations. The service is top notch and there is nothing else really like it in the area. One visit to this Italian food heaven and you will fall in love with it too!
Santa Marianita - AKA kite beach
Santa Marianita also known as “Kite Beach” is a wonderful place to kick back, relax, and watch the Kite boarders take to the sky! These guys are true acrobats and can do some pretty amazing things on top of the water! If you have never seen this sport in person, it’s great to be able to see it right up close and just off the beach. There are several great beach house restaurants to grab a great meal, enjoy an ice cold beer, and watch all the colorful action!
People of Ecuador
I love this shot… I call it my Nat Geo picture and it is the essence of how life is here in Ecuador. What I mean by that is that every time I see this shot I am reminded of how peaceful things are here, of how nice the people are here, and how laid back the lifestyle is.
People here don’t care about keeping up with the Jones’s, they don’t care about having the latest fashions, having the nicest car or how much money they can flash around. All they care about is spending time with family and friends and living a relaxed life. They don’t have any of the frills that we have in the States and they are perfectly fine with that. To them life is not about how much you accumulate, it’s just about living.
The people of Ecuador make living here all that much better because it reminds me that life is more than what we are brought up in the States to think it is. I am constantly reminded to be that much more grateful for what I have, and to look at life as the blessing that it is.
Puerto Cayo is a beautiful stretch of coastline that is still a mostly hidden and less known treasure on the Ecuadorian coast. The whole town boasts only around 2,200 residents with around 70 expats but more and more people are finding it a great place to visit and even settle down. Located about 45 minutes south of Manta, this area is a great getaway destination and even boasts a very nice and newly built hotel for weekend excursions.
Even though it doesn’t boast all of the conveniences of the city life in Manta, it does have a very relaxed Bob Marley type of feel to being there. It is one of those places that you can still take a stroll on the beach and be the only one leaving foot prints.
My brother and his wife personally call this lovely beach area their home. We get the pleasure of visiting them often and understand completely why they chose this area.
If you are looking for a more “off the beaten path” place to live or build, then Puerto Cayo might be the perfect place for you to check out. I have direct access to all the latest opportunities in Cayo through my brother and would be happy to drive you down, introduce you and show you around.
This is one of the best and simple pleasures of living life on the beach…the sunsets. These are but a few pictures of the amazing sunsets that await you on the beachfront. Pull up a chair on your balcony, grab a drink or your favorite book, and watch the show! Every day there is a new one, each one special in it’s own unique way, and each one a blessing to behold. In my opinion, it is one of the best ways to end the day!
Los Frailes is a national park located only about 60 minutes south of Manta. It is absolutely beautiful and a must see on your list of things to do!
There are hiking trails to the top of the surrounding cliff tops, incredible beaches to walk, and if you get there at low tide you can explore the tidal pools and see a diverse group of sea life! It does tend to get a bit crowded on the weekends, maybe 50 people haha, so if you want to see it almost deserted just make plans to go during the week. Enjoy!
Get a Massage
One of the better things about living here has got to be the incredible massage options and even more incredible prices! I don’t know where you live in the States but back in Florida I would regularly have to pay a minimum of $75 dollars for an hour long massage and then tip another $10 on top of that. If I wanted a deep tissue sports massage it was a minimum of $90 plus tip. If I wanted to schedule a masseuse to come to the house it would be at least $100 plus tip!
Here in Ecuador the average massage is only $20! That’s right my friends only $20 for an hour long massage! We have two personal massage ladies who we use regularly and they both come to the condo so we don’t even have to drive. They are each experienced, very good, and even bring their own table. One lady charges $20 dollars for a Swedish relaxation or even deep tissue sports massage, the other lady does a full relaxation Swedish massage with hot stones and only charges $25!
So, for the price of one in home massage back in Florida, we get a massage every week! Yep, not a bad way to live!
Do you like fresh seafood? Then you have come to the right place! Manta has one of the best fish markets in the region with all kinds of the freshest fish and seafood to choose from. Manta is also the Tuna capital of the world so if you like tuna you will have plenty!
It is very easy to choose what you want and the local fishermen are very nice and helpful. Prices are incredible ranging from only around $2 – $6 per pound of anything you see! Once you make your selection they will even skin and clean it for you for just a few cents extra!
The Galapagos Island
The Galapagos Islands are like no other place on earth. They are as beautiful as they are mesmerizing. You will see animals and wildlife unlike anywhere else on the planet and it is guaranteed to be one of the highlight trips of your life!
Whether you are into hiking, bird watching, scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing etc you will never be bored or lacking in things to do and see. At the end of the day just kick your feet up, relax with a drink and watch the amazing sunset. Just don’t be surprised if a lazy seal kicks up a flipper and lays next to you!
Ecuador is the perfect place to live if you like to get out and drive! The whole country is only about the size of Texas but yet has an incredible diversity of regions, things to see and places to visit. Day driving trips to pretty much anywhere are easily possible so the only thing limiting where you can go are the limits you put on yourself!
The roads are 90% new or updated and a dream to drive. The President made sure that with the tourism of Ecuador at all time highs that the roads were a breeze for people to travel. Again, make sure to always have your camera on hand because of you don’t you’ll wish you had!
I will be updating this page as I find more things to share with you. Check back every so often and see what else this incredible country has in store for you!