Getting back to Cuenca was just as easy as getting to the coast. We took the Manglaralto Bus (green bus) back to Montañita at 11am, where there is a CLP bus office, bought our tickets (it was almost booked for 1pm) So get there early if you can because you can’t buy tickets in advance. The bus took a little longer getting back to Guayaquil but it was direct. The ride back with OperAzuay Turs was longer too but we made it back to Cuenca by 8:30pm. It may seem like a lot of time driving but it is worth it to make the trip, especially at the beginning of April because now there is just a cool rain here in Cuenca.
The next day we took the Manglaralto Bus; it is a green bus that runs about every 30 min. town to town along la ruta del sol. It was a cool experience flying through the mountains listening to crazy latin beach jams while the co-pilot jumped in and out at stops to make little offerings at the shrines we passed, I assume for safe passage. When you get on the bus you tell the co-pilot where you are going , he comes up with a price and makes sure the driver stops where you need to get off. We got out at the Ayampe police station and walked through Ayampe (one road village) and decided to stay at La Finca Punta Ayampe. It was all the way at the end of the road up into the mountains a bit; farther from the beach than we would have liked but more affordable than beach front rooms. We stayed here for 2 nights. It was a little scary at night because crazy jungle bugs came into our room and the mosquito net wasn’t the greatest protection. But the food was amazing at this hotel; incredible fresh juice and super healthy vegetarian options. delish. They also owned the sweetest dogs in the world that would follow us to the beach and swim with us and make sure we got back to the hotel ok.
Ayampe was so beautiful and deserted that we just ended up spending our whole time at this beach. If we had more time I would have explored the surrounding areas more but we just got hypnotized by the life in Ayampe and we just didn’t want to leave.
We got off in Montañita and stayed the night there at Hostal Las Palmeras. It was $15 per person per night, we probably could have found something cheaper but this hotel was away from the party sounds of the street and right by the water. I think we were the only people staying at the hotel. It was the beginning of the off season but the weather was great and the waters were still warm.
Montañita reminded me a little of the Jersey Shore, so we only stayed the one night. We did happen to find a nice little indian/asian fusion food joint with vegetarian food. It was called Sakura and manned by young English speakers. I don’t know if they owned it but if they did they are living the dream.
The Guayaquil bus station is easy enough to navigate, they also have a great website you can check out before you head out. There is even a supermarket within the station if you need any last minute travel stuff. We bought tickets to Montañita/Olon from LIBERTAD PENINSULAR C.L.P. (or just CLP) because we wanted to get close to the Machalilla National Park area. CLP offers a direct bus to Montañita/Olon but they have lots of buses with different routes so make sure you get a direct route because it was super fast and comfortable (with A/C and a movie). Also, before you get on the bus make sure it is the right one; CLP has lots of buses that leave from the same parking spot. Match the number on your receipt (its not on the ticket) to the number on the front of the bus. I got on the wrong bus a couple of times thinking my bus was maybe a few minutes early until someone pointed it out to me. Our tickets cost $5.50 each one way.
We had a holiday coming up so I took an extra day off work and we headed to the coast. Instead of taking the bus to Guayaquil we took a commuter van from OperAzuayTur. I definitely recommend this route. It cost $12 per person and vans leave every hour from 6am-9pm or something like that. You should reserve a spot the night before and get there early the day of. You need identification when you pay and I think they only take cash. We took the van from Cuenca to Guayaqil and it took maybe 2 hours and was very comfortable, we even made a pee stop right after Cajas. The van drives right by the bus station in Guayaquil and you could probably ask the driver to drop you off there but we didn’t know where we were exactly so we just went to the drop off point (the office of OperAzuayTur). It was only like a 3 or 4 block walk to the bus station from the office. We also ended up taking the van back from Guayaquil to Cuenca.