Salinas, Ecuador: A Claustrophobic’s Nightmare

Salinas, Ecuador is like any other big city on the beach that you might find in Florida or Hawaii or Australia – money meets small stretch of sand meets huge crowds.

Salinas Ecuador pictures

welcome to Miami... wait, where am I?

It didn’t feel like the safest place on the Ruta del Sol either – not like Puerto Rico for example. There is an undeniable trace of ghetto that lurks a few blocks away from the main road, waiting to grab the unsuspecting tourist who strays too far in the wrong direction. An inflated number of police and private security guards, in a number I haven’t seen since Colombia, serve to deter anyone with intentions to harm Salina’s tourism industry.

Just an hour or so from Guayaquil, the majority of visitors here are from the rainy port city. Most are families that come down for the weekend, though yachts and 5-star hotels serve some of the country’s elite as well as newly married Ecuadorians (akin to going on Hawaii honeymoons for Americans).

On the first sunny day, we left the hotel and walked down the Malecón, the main road that splits the expensive high rises from the “beach”. Peeking over the edge of the sidewalk, I wondered where the beach actually was. The first stretch is covered in tiny broken shells, suitable for masochists and avid sea shell collectors.

Where the shards give way to a tolerable surface, families occupy every single grain of sand. To walk from the sidewalk to the ocean, you have to bob and weave in a zig-zag fashion in a way Floridian kids are taught to escape an alligator.

Salinas Ecuador pictures

this giant loaf of bread makes me want a sandwich

Advertising companies take advantage of the huge consumer presence by printing their brand on everything. Tents sheltering families from the harsh sun are marked with advertisements for electrodomesticos and beer.

Salinas Ecuador pictures

almost as big as the luxury hotel behind it

The most obnoxious advertising award goes to Pingüino, a popular ice cream producer whose slogan is compartiendo felicidad, or sharing happiness. On the densest part of the beach, they set up a massive Happy Park filled with large inflated games and competition for kids.

Every surface available is branded. The structure itself is painted an angry red that likely causes planes flying overhead to crash. Scattered throughout this area are six-foot tall ice cream sandwiches and cones – part of the “happiness” that they share.

This beach destination is overrated and worth a miss. I’ve now been on Ecuador’s Ruta del Sol for over a month, and I’m looking forward to getting to the mountains of Cuenca and heading south to Peru.

What beach destinations do you think are overrated? Share your thoughts here.

  • I think beaches that do not have nice snorkeling spot off of it are overrated :p I’m not really a beach person…

    We used to live in Santa Barbara, California and people would swarm the beaches in the summer. I don’t get it… the water is really cold and if you walk on the sand you end up with sticky tars on your feet. Overrated.

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  • Cold water, yuck. I’m kind of a beach snob… where I’m from there are gorgeous beaches with lots and lots of sand so there’s always room to stretch out no matter how many tourists are there.

  • Anonymous

    Can’t be Miami, the buildings are all painted in white. Totally agree, cold water saps you out quickly…

  • Kuta Beach in Bali, although it is a trip to watch all that happens there is highly over rated. There are much nicer beaches on Bali.

  • I didn’t realize, I haven’t been to the beach there for about 8 years

  • You’re right, parts of the beach are really dirty… but I can’t lie, I love it :)

  • Pacific Beach in San Diego…it is just a young, drunk mess! I go to the beach to relax, exercise and stay cool…I guess some people think the beach should be used as a bar. OVERRATED :)

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