Salinas

Area Description

Salinas is a resort town located on the western tip of a peninsula. Together with La Libertad, Santa Elena and Ballenita, it forms an urban agglomeration that is locally known as La Península.

The ocean north of Salinas is calm. Here are two popular beaches (Chipipe Beach and Salinas Beach) separated by the marina of the Salinas Yacht Club. West and south of Salinas is a military base with an airport. Large parts of the military base are freely accessible during the day.

See and Do

Sunbathing and swimming

Salinas has some of Ecuador’s prettiest beaches on its north side. Swimming is safe here because the surf is calm.

The most popular beach is Salinas Beach. This beach is locally also known as Playa de San Lorenzo. This beach can be crowded and noisy during weekends in the high season (December – May). What doesn’t help is that this beach is pretty narrow. Many activities are offered on this beach: skydiving, kayaking, paragliding, fishing, and whale watching tours. Across the road across the beach are numerous hotels and restaurants.

A quieter and more family-oriented beach is Chipipe Beach. This beach is wide, has soft sand, and is kid-friendly. In the district behind to the beach are several restaurants.

Lookout points

On the military base west of Salinas are several interesting lookout points that you can visit. From lookout points La Lobería and La Chocolatera you can watch sea lions. There is a hiking path between these lookout points. Lookout point El Morro is located inland and gives a nice view over Salinas. You can only visit these lookout points during the day.

Whale watching

Each year humpback whales come to the coast of Ecuador to conceive and give birth to their calves. From Salinas Beach, you can take boat tours to watch these whales. To learn more about whales, it is recommended to first visit Salinas’ whale museum.

Surfing

While the ocean north of Salinas is calm and therefore perfect for swimming, the ocean south of Salinas is pretty wild. Swimming here is not a good idea at all, but it’s a popular spot for surfers. Surfers share the ocean with numerous sea lions that inhabit this part of the coast. Popular (but quiet) beaches for surfing are Playa 3 Cruces and Playa del Mar Bravo on the military base and Playa Punto Carnero east of the airport.

Events, Holidays and Celebrations

Carnival

Salinas is one of the best places in Ecuador to celebrate the carnival. The town gets crazy during the carnival. Expect being pelted with water balloons, eggs, and foam from balconies and pickup trucks.

Best Time to Visit

Salinas has high temperatures and abundant sunshine from mid-December to May or June. The busiest times in Salinas are Christmas, New Year, Carnaval and Holy Week. During these times, accommodations are usually fully occupied.

From June to mid-December there are not many visitors because the sky is overcast and the temperatures are not so warm anymore. During this period many restaurants are closed or are only open on the weekends.

Weekend days are always busier than midweek days.

If you want to book accommodation for the period of mid-December – June, it’s best to make your booking by August or September. If you want to book later for this period, there will be less and only more expensive accommodations to choose from.

Climate

Salinas is located in a semi-arid zone. It has a wet season and a dry season, or – better said- a sunny season and an overcast season.

The wet season lasts from mid-December through June. During these months, the most rain falls, but there is not much rain: 5-6 inches of rain on average per year. The sun shines almost every day during the wet season. It’s warm, but the temperatures are not too crazy. It rarely gets over 85 degrees. 90 degrees are rare. Cool breezes from the ocean provide cooling. It can be humid during the wet season, but for most people it’s acceptable. Be aware of the sun during the wet season. Sunburns can occur quickly. Because of the high temperatures you will probably want a home or accommodation with air conditioning.

The dry season lasts from June through November. During this season, most days have overcast skies. The sun will peek out from time to time, but sometimes the sky is overcast for weeks or even months. The temperatures are a bit lower in the dry season, between 68 and 75 degrees during the day, but it’s not getting cold. A temperature less than 60 degrees is unusual. El Niño or La Niña do influence the weather in Salinas. In El Niño and La Niña years, the dry season may start in May instead of June.

Environment

Appearance

Salinas is kept clean, but the infrastructure is often not maintained, even in tourist areas. The sidewalks, for example, are pretty ragged. The beaches suffer from erosion.

Noise

Salinas is a noisy town, especially on weekends and holidays. The most noise you can experience near the boulevards with their restaurants and bars. In other areas, you will usually hear barking dogs and car alarms at night.

Insects

Mosquitoes and ants can be a nuisance.

People and Culture

Most locals are friendly but they don’t interact much with expats. Many locals live in serious poverty.

Eating and Drinking

Salinas has a good variety of restaurants, especially in the areas near Salinas Beach and Chipipe Beach. More restaurants can be found on the boulevard of La Libertad.

Bollos

A local treat are bollos, which you can buy from beach vendors on Salinas Beach. Bollos consist of plantain, peanuts, and fish. It’s best to eat them with lemon.

Entertainment and Nightlife

Bars and clubs

There are several clubs and bars on the boulevard along Salinas Beach.

Movie theaters

There is a Supercines movie theater in shopping mall El Paseo Shopping in La Libertad.

Theaters

There are no theaters in Salinas or nearby places. The nearest theaters are in Guayaquil.

Shopping

Non-food shopping

Non-food shopping options are limited in Salinas and nearby places. The best place to find non-food items is shopping mall El Paseo Shopping in La Libertad. This shopping center also has a Hipermarket superstore. For a much broader variety of products, you may visit large shopping malls in Guayaquil.

Grocery shopping

For groceries, you have several options in Salinas and around.

In the beach areas in Salinas are two small grocery stores: a Mi Comisariato grocery store and a TÍA grocery store. For a broader variety of products including many imported products, you can go to grocery store Supermaxi in Salinas and superstore Hipermarket in La Libertad.

Salinas has a small food market and a fish market (Puerto Santa Rosa). In La Libertad (about $3.00 - $3.50 by taxi from Salinas) is a larger food market with lower prices than the food market in Salinas. At this market, you can also find fish.

Best Places to Stay and Live

San Lorenzo

As the touristic center of the town, the district of San Lorenzo is the busiest and noisiest area of Salinas. The Mi Comisariato and TÍA grocery stores are located in this area. You will also find numerous restaurants and hotels in San Lorenzo.

Chipipe

The area of Chipipe Beach is a relatively quiet district in Salinas. A downside is that there are no grocery stores in this area. For basic food items, you can visit several tiendas (mom-and-pop stores). There are several restaurants in Chipipe but by far not as many as in San Lorenzo. Buses connect Chipipe with the rest of the La Península agglomeration.

La Milina

La Milina is a less urban area with few paved roads. It’s not well served by public transportation. Several gringos live in this area.

Housing

Salinas offers ample housing options. Compared to the rest of the coast, housing prices in Salinas are not high.

Salinas Beach and Chipipe Beach are lined up with high-rise condos. Behind this line of high-rise condos are areas with single-family homes. There are also several low-rise condominium buildings.

Examples

Utilities

Water

Potable water is available in most areas. Aguapen is the local water utility company.

Electricity

Electricity in is provided by CNEL. Power outages do occur, but not as often as they used to.

Be aware that using air conditioning during the six hottest months can result in high energy bills (think about $300 per month).

Medical Care

Emergencies

In case of a medical emergency, you can go to Hospital Básico ESMA in Salinas. This small hospital is open 24 hours per day.

Hospitals

Larger hospitals and clinics can be found in La Libertad and Santa Elena.

How to travel to Salinas

From Cuenca (by bus)

CLP operates direct buses between the Cuenca Bus Terminal in Cuenca and the Santa Elena Bus Terminal in Santa Elena ($14, about 6 hours). From the Santa Elena Bus Terminal you can take a taxi (about $5.00) or a city bus to Salinas.

From Guayaquil (by bus)

To arrive in Salinas you first have to take a bus from the Guayaquil Bus Terminal to the Santa Elena Bus Terminal in Santa Elena. Several bus companies (CLP, Costa Azul CICA, Liberpesa) offer frequent services (about every 20 minutes) between these terminals. The duration of the trip is two hours, and the price is about $4.30. You can buy your ticket at windows 86 to 88 on the ground floor of the Guayaquil Bus Terminal. From the Santa Elena Bus Terminal you can take a taxi (about $5.00) or a city bus to Salinas.

From Guayaquil (by car)

Most parts of the road between Guayaquil and Salinas are in a good state. Be aware that there are almost every day speed checks on the Vía a la Costa, the road between Guayaquil and Santa Elena. There is one toll booth west of Guayaquil ($1,50).

From Ayangue, Manglaralto, Montañita, Olón (by bus)

If you want to travel to Salinas from one of the coastal towns north of Salinas, you can first take a regional bus to the Santa Elena Bus Terminal. These bus services are offered by TransManglaralto and CITUP. From the Santa Elena Bus Terminal you can take a taxi (about $5.00) or a city bus to Salinas.

Transportation

Bus

You can use urban buses to travel in the urban area of La Libertad, Santa Elena, Ballenita, and Salinas. The price for a single ride is $.036, which you can pay when you enter your bus.

Sports and Leisure

Dog walking

On the following beaches you are allowed to walk with your dog: Mar Bravo, Punta Carnero, and La Milina. You have to carry a plastic bag with you to dispose of your dog's feces.

Golf

The Salinas Golf & Tenis Club has a sand golf course. You can find more decent golf courses in Guayaquil and Montecristi.

Swimming

The Salinas Golf & Tenis Club and several hotels have swimming pools.

Tennis

The Salinas Golf & Tenis Club has new, decent tennis courts.

Government

Local authority: Municipality of Salinas.