Last year (2008) in July our Quito apartment was ready enough for us to bring a family group down. This included my wife Dalynda and me, three of our four children (Natalie, Jonathan, Jessica - all teenagers) and, of course, my sister - Aunt Tricie - the kid's favorite.
We spent some time enjoying our apartment and Quito, and visiting the Northern Sierrra; but from the kids perspecitve the best time was our trip to Atacames in Esmeraldes Province on the Northern Pacific Coast of Ecuador.
There were six of us so we hired a driver and van to make the seven hour journey down the Andes to Atacames. We had not made a reservation - we were arriving mid-week and we wanted to see what we were getting. We found a great two bedroom, two bath apartment furnished sort of beach Ikea style. It had a large outside terrace on the 8th floor of a condominium overlooking both the pool and the Pacific Ocean - incredible views.
Natalie, Aunt Tricie, Jess - Beautiful Foreground, Beautiful Background
View of Atacames from the Condo, Sin Muchachas
Atacames sits on a strip of land between a river and the ocean. Along the beach, right on the sand is a string of Grass Shack Bamboo type bars. From there across the main drag that parallels the beach are numerous small hotels and restaurants, with more of the same as you move back from the beach. There seemed to be plenty to keep everyone occupied, including a lot of relaxing and eating - not to mention the beautiful beach and the ocean.
Scenes from Atacames and a Restaurant in Tonsupa,
a Small Village Just North of Atacames
The Wild Weekend - Dad Needs a Couple of Breaks
As the weekend rolled around Atacames filled up with Ecuadorians - this is where people from Quito come for vacation and long weekends; very few Gringos. If the crowds get to be too much you can escape to the quiet village of Tonsupa a few kilometers to the north - we headed there for lunch one day to get (me) away from it all.
By Saturday night the joint was a rockin' with wall to wall people in the bars, in the restaurants, in the streets - too much for me; Dalynda and I went back to the condo for some quiet time. We left Aunt Tricie with the kids - they all loved it.
Saturday Night - Jonathan and the Girls Out on the Town
Under the Watchful Eye of Aunt Tricie?!?!?;
I have Studied this Photo Carefully - Definitely a Water Bottle on the Table
The Wild Ocean - Watch out for the Whales!
The boat guy said we were guaranteed to see whales - or our money back. So we waded out and got onto a boat that seemed to get smaller and smaller as we went farther out into the ocean.
Ocean Very Big; Boat Very Small.
These Guys are Serious - Ready to Take on Jaws
After about two hours with the shoreline fading farther and farther in the distance with storm clouds on the horizon I was past ready to pack it in and get my money back. Then suddenly there was a dark spot in the distance - the guides got very excited, and we did too. We headed in that direction.
At First just a Dark Spot
As we got closer we could see that there were two whales. It was a pair of Humpbacks "playing" together, so to speak.
A Pair of Friendly Whales
We moved closer and the whales moved closer - closer than I wanted to get to something alive in the water larger than my boat.
Save the Whales? - NO! - Save the Boat!
A few more Whale shots - taken by Jess and Jon
The weather caught us on the way back - some rain, lightning and thunder, but the sun was shining again by the time we hit the beach at Atacames. I paid and gave a nice tip - well worth it.
If you want beach time in Ecuador, Atacames can be a great choice. In future editions of the Chronicles we will cover other Ecuador beaches - there are many, each different.
Would You Like to Visit Ecuador for a Whale Ride -
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