Altitude: 5 meters (16 ft)
Phone Code: 06
Spread across an expansive stretch of fine gray sand, Atacames is a beachside playground for Ecuadorians. Foreigners are more the exception than the norm. Part hustler, part street-side vendor and welcoming hotel owner, Atacames is a town with many faces, which seem to change as the sun moves across the sky.
Families can be seen with toddlers lagging along at their sides and young couples walk wrapped in each others arms. Pods of young Ecuadorians meander through the streets or stake claim to a squat of beach. Volleyball matches and soccer games sporadically appear along the beach where mothers, brothers, sisters, girlfriends and happily single males mingle or lounge across beach chairs.
At sunrise, the beach is practically empty, which seems to draw another crowd: older couples and families with small children. This is the time to stroll the beach strip and enjoy Atacames for its inherent natural beauty: seemingly endless coast set amidst rolling green hills that tumble into brown cliffs that plunge into the sea.
At night, of course, all such attributes disappear beneath a blanket of sky, the only lights being an occasional beach bonfire and the neon glow of Maleconâ€™s bouncing bars and hopping restaurants. To taste all of Atacames, you'd have to rise early, party hard and be prepared to spend a hefty dime or two. Besides over-priced cocktails, the town specializes in encocado dishes, coconut-based deserts and ice cream sundaes served in carved out pineapples.
Other places nearby Atacames: Same, Chamanga, SÃºa, TonchigÃ¼e, Esmeraldas (City), Mompiche and Muisne.