Mompiche, Ecuador is place to get away from it all. An authentic fishing village with a great wave, a handful of restaurants and hostels, and a picturesque beach bordered by virgin jungle.
After a weekend in the drizzly mountains around Baños, we were excited to get back down to the warm coast. Mompiche appeared to be just the sleepy little village we were looking for.
Picture perfect Mompiche, on Ecuador’s northern coast, is a small fishing village bordered by the rainforest that tumbles from the mountains behind it and a flotilla of colorful fishing boats bobbing in the sea in front. It is also home to a long point break that peels left off the southern point of the scenic bay.
Our drive back to the coast took us past Ecuador’s capital, Quito, where we took the opportunity to re-supply. From Quito it was an incredibly beautiful but long drive snaking up, down and along mountain ridges lined with tropical forest and banana plantations. Descending the volcanic ranges of Pichincha, we found ourselves trapped behind a procession of semi-trailers winding slowly down the range. After a full day of driving, we finally arrived in the tiny village.
The little village does not have much going on. A couple of tiendas selling basic groceries. A handful of restaurants and beach bars. Some hotels and hostels. And, of course, the fishmonger, selling the haul that the fishermen return with every morning. And that’s about all. There is no 4g network coverage here and the wifi connections in the village are even slower than the 3g mobile internet. It is a place to kick back, unplug, and unwind.
What to Do in Mompiche
Relax. There’s nothing to it. Walk the along the beach. Visit the incredible black sands of Playa del Negra. Sunbathe. Or rent a surfboard and head to the southern point to catch a wave and rub shoulders with the friendly locals.
Wave after wave peels off the rocky headland. There was ample action for the handful of friendly locals out the back and a few tourists learning to surf closer to shore. When we were there the swell was clean and small enough for a couple of beginners like us to practice on. Despite the continuing grey skies and occasional drizzle typical of this time of year, the warm, blue water of the tropical Pacific doesn’t fluctuate much. The water remains a pretty comfortable 25°C.
You can rent boards and organize lessons from one of a few surf shops scattered throughout the village.
Discover Playa del Negra
Playa del Negra is about one kilometer south of Playa Mompiche. Playa del Negra is an open beach with pitch-black sand. Wild, windswept and littered with driftwood you’ll have this beach pretty much to yourself save for maybe a surfer or two come to beat the ‘crowd’ at Mompiche. Take a couple of beers and a rug and watch the sunset from this remarkable beach.
We camped at this idyllic, hidden spot for four nights. Every day after a leisurely breakfast we drove down into the town. Then we would surf for a few hours. Before finding some seafood for lunch. Evenings we spent at our campsite, cooking and watching the fishing boats return home, as the sunset over the Pacific. Perfect.
Where to Stay in Mompiche
Overlanding or Camping
Check out one of our favorite campsite in South America. Gorgeous, private, and protected. We can’t guarantee the gate won’t be locked. We can’t guarantee you won’t be moved on. And, we can’t even guarantee you will make it up the hill (although if our little van Pablo did you probably will too). But if you can stay, you will thank us.
After staying at Hidden House Hostel (now closed) in the village for two days, we left in search of a campsite where we might extend our stay. After striking out at a couple of beachfront roads and properties, a German traveler told us of a secret spot nearby. Round the headland to the south, there was an unused dirt road behind an unlocked metal gate. This road took us to a headland overlooking the neighboring Playa del Negra to the south and the cliffs and coves of Mompiche’s headland to the north. We followed his advice and despite some incredibly steep sections our little van Pablo was able to navigate the dirt track.
Balanced on a skinny headland, providing spectacular 270-degree views of the Pacific in front, the black sands of Playa del Negra to the south, the dramatic cliffs of Mompiche to the north, and the jungle-covered hinterland behind. Before the headland, the road dips down behind the bluff. Here a flat area offers a campsite with great protection from the wind and a view through the strangler figs and vines to the rocky coves and beaches to the north. Perfection.
Maracumbo Camping Hostel
Mompiche sound too busy to you? Escape the ‘bustle’ and bring your tent and camp (or stay in their dorm) at the Maracumbo Camping Hostel just out of town.
Mudhouse Hostel Mompiche
This eco-hostel offers comfortable, basic bamboo cabanas and a chilled out vibe, all just minutes from the beach.
Hotel La Facha
You won’t find a Marriott in Mompiche but the Royal Decameron Mompiche offers an all inclusive resort experience in an idyllic setting.
Where to Eat in Mompiche
- Grab fresh fish straight off the incoming fishing boats from the monger at the end of the beach and cook yourself up a feast for less than $2 USD.
- For a cheap breakfast, the one and only bakery or panaderia on the main street serves up cheap pastries and REAL ESPRESSO COFFEE.
- At lunchtime follow your nose. There are a couple of more expensive restaurants on the main drag aimed at tourists. Check out some of the shabbier looking restaurants where the locals are eating to get better food at a much better price, Don Alexander was one of our favorites.
- On a Saturday night, the food hawkers are out serving up cheap and delicious empanadas, corviche (fried balls of plantain and fish), and street meat.
Where to Drink in Mompiche
This is not a party town or even a meet a few backpackers at a bar for a quiet beer town. They shut it down early on the week nights here so enjoy the vibes most ‘tranquillo’.
- The Buddha Bar on the esplanade is a chilled out beach bar with a sand floor, eclectic furniture recycled from reclaimed wood.
- Looking for the party on a Saturday night? The DMCA hostel is the place to start. Even if you aren’t staying you can drop by for a beer and a game of jenga. This is probably your best bet for meeting people.
How to Get to Mompiche
Mompiche is a small coastal town in the north of Ecuador which can be reached by private vehicle or bus. Bordered to south by an ecological reserve Mompiche has to be accessed by from the north.
If coming by bus, the closest hubs are Atacames and Esmeraldas. It roughly seven hours from Quito, ten hours from Manta and 12+ hours from Guayaquil. Bus timetables, routes and fares can be found here.
Driving in Ecuador is safe when proper precautions are taken. The roads that descend from Quito to the coast are also used by large trucks that descend slowly. Don’t get impatient and overtake on an unbroken line as we did or risk a ticket or worse an accident. The police pulled us over for overtaking. Finally, the rampant police corruption worked in our favor for once. We were on our way after paying a small bribe.
- Mobile internet: As at October 2018, within town we were getting 3g internet with Claro. Speeds are slow between 1.5mb and 6mb per second.
- Wifi: Wifi is slow in Mompiche, mobile internet offers better speed.
- Stay up to date on available coverge with NPERF’s global network coverage maps.
Planning on visitng Mompiche? Or have you already been? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!
Want to save this article for later? Pin it!