Manta and Around


Author: Johan Klok | Last update: November 17, 2021


Ecuador's largest coastal city
About 500 expats
Tuna capital of the world
Dry climate
Port for cruise ships
Around 250,000 inhabitants

See & Do


History & Society

In pre-Columbian times, Manta was a trading post for the Mantas. Then, around the year 500, the Mayans arrived, followed by the Spaniards in the 16th century. The Spaniards officially established the city in 1565 to provide ships between Peru and Panama with supplies.

The USA Airforce started anti-narcotics operations from the airport of Manta in 1999. It accelerated the economic growth of the city. In 2019, the USA Airforce had to close its base because it was not welcome anymore.

On April 16, 2016, Manta was hit hard by an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8. The quake destroyed complete areas. At least 676 people were killed. However, unlike some other places, Manta has recovered pretty well from the earthquake.

After the earthquake, new additions to Manta are the IESS hospital, Mall del Pacífico, and the cruise passenger terminal.

Manta’s most important economic activities are tourism, fishing, food processing (including tuna canning), and cargo transshipment.

Attracted by the industrial growth of Manta, many poor rural residents have moved to the city. These people populate the poor neighborhoods in the east and south of Manta.

Eating & Drinking


Entertainment & Nightlife

Movie theaters

Manta has two movie theaters where you can watch (international) movies. CINEXT is located in the Mall del Pacífico and Supercines is located in shopping center El Paseo Shopping. Both movie theaters are part of national chains of movie theaters.

Shops & Markets

Shopping centers


Grocery stores




A few hundred expats live in Manta. The Facebook group Manta Expats Community has over a thousand members.



Electricity is provided by CNEL.


All major banks of Ecuador have branches in Manta. The among expats popular credit union JEP also has a branch in Manta.

Security & Safety


Most expats and visitors will only be exposed to petty crimes, such as pickpocketing. Nevertheless, Manta is also home to gangs related to international drug cartels. These cartels use Manta as a transport hub for the export of cocaine to North America and Europe. Since 2020 there has been a war among these gangs. This has resulted in numerous murders in Manta, including the murder of the leader of the Los Choneros gang in the Mall del Pacífico in December 2020.


  • Use common sense. Avoid looking like a tourist.
  • Don’t carry visible valuables (jewelry, watches, etc.).
  • Avoid all poor neighborhoods of Manta when it’s dark (almost most murders take place in these neighborhoods).
  • Avoid the neighborhoods of Jocay and Cuba at any time. These are the most dangerous neighborhoods of Manta. Also, be very careful in the neighborhood of Tarqui.
  • Don’t visit the beaches at night, and during the day only when there are other people around.
  • Don’t walk alone in the streets at night.
  • If you are a woman: don’t use taxis at night if you are alone.
  • The use of date rape drugs has been reported, so watch your drinks in clubs and bars.
  • The boulevard (Avenida Malecón) next to the city center is known for prostitution at night.

The chance of something happening to you is always there, but is greatly reduced if you stick to these recommendations and if you live in one of the better neighborhoods.

Health & Medical


Manta has various private clinics for essential medical services (Clínica Americana, Clínica Centeno, Clínica del Sol, Clínica San Gregorio).

The newest addition is Manta Hospital Center, which is associated with AXXIS Centro Médico in Quito.

All private clinics in Manta offer only basic medical services. For specialized medical services, you can visit hospitals in Guayaquil (190 km, 3 hours by car) or Quito (390 km, 6.5 hours by car, also accessible by plane).

If you are a member of IESS, Ecuador's social security system, you can visit the IESS General Hospital Manta, Manta's modern IESS hospital. For more specialized services, you can visit the IESS hospital in Portoviejo (35 km, 40 minutes by car), which is one of the largest and most specialized IESS hospitals in Ecuador.

Hospital Rodríguez Zambrano is Manta's public hospital. Unfortunately, it's too small to properly serve Manta's many inhabitants who don't have healthcare insurance.

For cancer treatments, you can visit the SOLCA hospital in Portoviejo.


Red Cross


Manta has public and private schools. The public schools are almost free but are not of good quality. Many private schools are of good quality but these schools are relatively expensive. Private school Unidad Educativa Leonardo da Vinci is one of Manta's best schools and is bilingual (Spanish and English).

How to travel to Manta

Buses to Manta arrive at the Manta Bus Terminal (Terminal Terrestre de Manta). Airplanes arrive at Manta Airport, which is located at the edge of the city.

From Ambato

Direct bus: Reina del Camino

From Esmeraldas

Direct bus: Reina del Camino

From Guayaquil

Direct bus: Reina del Camino

From Quito

See How to travel from Quito to Manta for all options.

From Salinas, Ballenita, Montañita, and Puerto López

When you want to travel from Salinas, Ballenita, Montañita, Puerto López, or other places near these coastal cities and villages, you can use the Ruta del Spondylus road to Manta.
By car: drive north to Puerto Cayo. You will have two options in Puerto Cayo: traveling to Manta via San Lorenzo (about 1 hour 20 minutes) or via Jipijapa (about 1 hour 30 minutes). Both routes consist of roads that are in good shape. The route via San Lorenzo has a nicer view.
Note: traffic applications like Google Maps may recommend a faster route via the Vía Los Bajos and the Vía Montecristi, but this route consists of secondary roads that are not always in good shape.
By bus: take one of the many green TransManglaralto buses that ride between the bus terminal in Ballenita and the bus terminal in Manta. When you travel from Salinas, you will first have to take a taxi or a bus to the bus terminal in Ballenita. From Montañita, the duration of the trip will be about 3 hours. From Puerto López about 2 hours.

From Santo Domingo

Direct bus: Reina del Camino

From Cuenca

Flota Imbabura operates a daily nightbus between Cuenca and Manta.

International airport

The nearest international airport (with flights to North America and Europe) is Guayaquil Airport. Some people travel to North America and Europe via Quito Airport.

How to get around Manta


Taxi drivers in Manta do not use taxi meters. The following trips give an idea of the prices:

  • Within the city center: $ 1.50
  • Airport - city center: $ 3
  • Airport - Mall del Pacífico: $ 3
  • Bus Terminal - city center: $ 3
  • Bus Terminal - Mall del Pacífico: $ 3
  • Ciudad del Mar - city center: $2

Job Opportunities & Volunteer Work

Volunteer work

Sports & Leisure


La Bolera is a bowling alley located in the La Quadra shopping center.


Montecristi Golf Resort & Villas has one of the few public golf courses in Ecuador.

Pickle ball

Padelmar is a pickle ball club with pickle ball courts.


Umiña Tennis Club has tennis courts.


Local authority: Municipality of Manta