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Esmeraldas (Province)

In the northwestern corner of Ecuador, African and indigenous cultures come together amidst jungle, river, and sea. The African heritage for many of Esmeraldas' residents comes from a shipwreck off the coast of a slave ship. According to legend, about two-dozen slaves made their way to land and to freedom. You will notice the influence of eastern African dress, music and customs in Esmeraldas.

European feet first touched Ecuadorian soil here when the Spanish landed on the Pacific Coast in 1526. The conquistadors were astounded to find Indians bedecked in emeralds awaiting them on shore. Convinced that the region was abundant in the brilliant gems, they named it Esmeraldas.

While today's Esmeraldas harbors few emeralds, it does live up to its other name, the "Green Province." The northernmost of the coastal provinces, Esmeraldas is also the greenest, riddled with estuaries, mangroves and flooded tropical forest. Its wild and remote inland areas, accessible only by canoe, make Esmeraldas the ideal staging ground for a river safari. Gliding past frontier towns that suddenly appear out of the dense green tangle of jungle, you will be reminded of scenes from "The African Queen" and "Heart of Darkness."

If you would rather vegetate than bushwhack your way though thick vegetation, Esmeraldas also boasts some of the coast's most vibrant beaches with small towns scattered among them. There is a whole range in accommodation here, as it is one of the closest beach areas to Quito and Ibarra and city folk of all income levels love to spend weekends at the beach.

The Esmeraldas province offers an array of beach town options. If you want to party, check out Atacames. If it's peace and quiet that you're looking for, the sleepy towns of Same, Sua, Tonchigue or Muisine should be explored. Surfers should head to Mompiche. Those looking for a variety of things to do could stay in Chamanga and explore the surrounding area.  

By Lexi Hazam with Francisco Mallinson

15 Jun 2007

Things to do in Esmeraldas (Province)

Surfing in Mompiche

121462Those who grew up in Mompiche have surfing ingrained in their blood from an early age. So, don’t feel bad if you decide to try riding the waves and six-year-olds are flying past you looking like ...
Mompiche, Ecuador

Horseback Tours with Doña Fabiola

Charming and incredibly calm in her demeanor, Doña Fabiola is an animal lover and the owner of some 20+ horses that she keeps in Mompiche. She offers guided tours (3-4 hours) of the mountain on ...
Horseback Riding
Mompiche, Ecuador

Boat Tours

Boat tours are offered throughout the week, typically you’ll find the boatmen advertising their tours along the Malecón during high season. If they\'re not, just head on over to the beach ...
Mompiche, Ecuador

Playa Negra

You can walk from one end of Playa Negra to the other in under five minutes. But you’ll probably have the whole place to yourself: a smooth sheet of shimmering black sand to play on, unbroken save ...
Mompiche, Ecuador


The few mangroves that exist today around Muisne are but one-tenth of what they were in 1980\'s. After shrimp farming caught on, entire areas of mangroves were cut down to make way for the shrimp ...
Muisne, Ecuador

Isla De Las Mancha (Isla Bonita)

You\'ll find the beach here is home to calm and quiet waters most of the time, the shores of which are supposedly visited by more than 150 species of birds per year. In addition, the small island is ...
Muisne, Ecuador

Handicraft Market

It\'s typically during high-season and weekends that you\'ll find artists from all over selling their goods here, ranging anywhere from coastal clothing to tiny hand-carved souvenirs. ...
Atacames, Ecuador

La Vida Del Mar Museum And Aquarium

Probably one of the rarer things available to any visitor of Atacames is an Aquarium. But this small and modest locale offers newcomers a chance to look at a variety of species that are native to the ...
Atacames, Ecuador

Esmeraldas Plazas

There\'s two miniature central parks that reside within Esmeraldas. Parque Central 20 de Marzo is the city\'s main park, while Parque Luis Cervantes is more of a recreational park. On early evenings ...
City Plaza
Esmeraldas (City), Ecuador

Malecón Las Palmas

Las Palmas is the main street that borders the beach, hosting a few bars and seafood restaurants along its lane, as well as boasting excellent sea views and providing a good place to grab a cold beer ...
Esmeraldas (City), Ecuador

Museo Y Centro Cultural Esmeraldas

Numerous examples of the ceramic heritage of Esmeraldas are housed here. Split up into different eras that define the region throughout history, you’ll find a number of archeological objects here ...
Esmeraldas (City), Ecuador
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