Things to do in Canoa, Ecuador

Canoa is a city in Ecuador, and also a kind of boat (canoe), this post is about the city, not the boat.


Even though most tourists go to Canoa for surfing, for us it was a quiet little beach town where we could relax except for the fact that we couldn’t really relax at all because it wasn’t quiet at all, there was loud music, trucks, and cars honking, people shouting and fighting, dogs barking and a dozen daily cars with loudspeakers announcing that they were selling stuff like lottery tickets or dustpans.

Anyway, we ended up staying there for 6 months and that gives me some authority to write about it. To be honest, a few months ago I decided to start writing to provide value to my audience, and I couldn’t find a single article providing any valuable information about Canoa. There were a couple of articles online but they were either written by tourists who spend just a few days there or by travel agencies or people who have some service to sell there, so you can’t really trust them. I have nothing to sell to you, so I can be honest about Canoa, and I will do it as a bulleted list so that’s is easier for you to read:

  • In Canoa, there are many hotels, and they are all empty about 95% of the time because they built them expecting tourists to come and they never came so it’s like a ghost town full of empty hotels and restaurants.
  • The population of Canoa is of only a few thousand but it feels like much more because they spend their time sitting on the street, playing loud music and being generally noisy.
  • About things to do in Canoa, there aren’t many really, there is the beach and some restaurants and bars, but there isn’t a single pump it up or guitar heroes machine, there aren’t any magic the gathering or pokemon trading cards tournaments, and there for sure isn’t a live Vocaloid concert every second week.
  • Now I’ll tell you what there is, there are old retired North Americans, about 300 of them which are there for the cheap real estate prices and perfect all-year-round weather and food. They get together every Wednesdays for a pub quiz sort of event at one of the foreign-owned bars. I asked them why they had moved there and most agreed that it was because they wanted to live on the beach and a fancy beachfront property in Canoa cost 10 times less than in the US. ($80.000 in Ecuador vs $800.000 and up to a million on the US).
  • Besides having such large foreign population, there is another peculiar group of people living in Canoa. I don’t know what they are called but we call it zombies. They are young guys, usually younger than 20 that roam around the city acting like zombies because they are under the influence of some kind of drug. They trip, stumble into things, try to open closed doors and can’t talk well, some of them have to drag themselves on the ground. Oh, yes, drugs are legal there, but not the cool ones that make you hallucinate, the drugs you can find in Canoa are the equivalent of the glue-sniffing that just make you numb and kills you in a few years.
  • About the cost of living there, a normal house or apartment costs between $100 and $200 a month, and the food costs $2,50 to $3 for a meal. So a bit cheaper than the big cities in Ecuador.
  • You can walk 14km undisturbed along the beach and that is the only good free thing to do in Canoa. If you have money, there is surfing, horse riding and paragliding.
  • There are many stray dogs roaming the city and many of them are very sick, and malnourished. They open the rubbish bags and get killed by the traffic on the main road.
  • In canoa, I have seen giant turtles, whales, starfish, sea lions, stingrays, eels, monkeys, crabs, fish, octopus and humans.



Here’s a video of my puppy Bong Gu playing on the beach in Canoa:


For more pictures and videos of our trip in Canoa, Ecuador, check out our (now abandoned) Instagram profile.