It’s not just the weather, warm all year round though specially nice from May to October. It’s not just the food: seafood, fish, fresh fruit and delicacies made of yucca, peanut and green plantain, that will make you decide to stay and live there forever. It’s not just the Guayas River: a long and wide adventure partner that flows through the city from North to South, and shows up where you least expect it giving Guayaquil an air of a giant floating city.
No. It is also, and above all, its people. This is why, in spite of being Pacific, they call us Caribbean; yes, “the last port on the Caribbean” because there is some of that free spirit, rhythm, carnival-likeliness, amiability, joy and voluptuousness of our Caribbean neighbors. The Andes, its culture of silence and of immensity, its eternal snows, are very far from us. Ponchos and cold are almost magic images that don’t belong to us and that we see only onTV.
Guayaquil is a whole different thing: carrying chairs out to the street to share cold beer with friends, a “siesta” on a hammock, having “ceviche” or “encebollado” for breakfast, dancing salsa, navigating down the river on a fresh afternoon or getting lost in the Las Peñas neighborhood to enjoy its colorful houses – so beautiful they look unreal.
In other words, things worth living for.
Just like with the one you love, Guayaquil’s way to its visitors is through their stomachs. Options are infinite, from exquisite restaurants like Don Francis, where they probably serve the best tuna fish in the country, or Lo Nuestro which has maintained its impeccable menu of Ecuadorian gastronomy for over twenty years; to the most humble ones, but delicious, such as El Patacón – with an imaginative offer exclusively based on green plantain. Or El Sol de Manta, where the challenge is to choose just one dish as they carry something from every corner of the Ecuadorian Coastal Region such as ceviches, coconut stews and green plantain casseroles, all with seafood.
For dessert there is no doubt: Sweet and Coffee, the Ecuadorian franchise that is already going past our frontiers for the irrefutable quality of its coffee (Ecuadorian, of course), its sweet and salt temptations, and for something that doesn’t cease to attract attention: it only gets better every day. In the same line is Naturissimo, a chain that offers the typical Guayaquil “merienda”: yogurt and yucca bread. Simply delicious.
A mandatory stroll for all visitors is on Malecón Simón Bolivar: a 1.55 miles walkway bordering the Guayas River. You can start on Mercado Sur, an architectural jewel dating back to the early XXth century, with the charm of its multi-colored houses.
On the way you will relish on our most beautiful buildings such as the City Hall or the Governor’s Palace, and touristic sites like The Clock Tower or La Rotonda, which commemorates the meeting between Bolivar and San Martin.
Along the Malecón you may sail day or night down the Guayas River and see Guayaquil from the water. Also, and not since very long ago, you may go across to Santay Island only half a mile away from the city, either by foot or riding a rental bike, to enjoy the environment so different from the urban bustle. On the island you can go trecking or watch birds, mammals, reptiles or different types of endemic trees and mangroves.
You may go across to Santay Island only half a mile away from the city, either by foot or riding a rental bike
At sundown a very cold beer is in order. The best place to have one and listen to live jazz, rock or blues is Diva Nicotina. If you’re up to something more modern – electronic, pop – and have a cocktail, La Paleta is the best option.
Shopping fans will have no problem in Guayaquil because malls are multiplying: San Marino or Mall del Sol, to mention just two, have international flagship national products.
But if you are in fact looking for something traditionally Ecuadorian, you must visit Mercado Artesanal (Handicraft Market), where under the same roof you can find goods made of leather, thread, toquilla straw (our famous hats), wood, among many other materials peculiar to Ecuadorian handicrafts. Do not forget that there, contrary to other shopping centers, you may bargain.
Having said this, only one more thing is left: Welcome to Guayaquil!