Modern, clean, and distinctly South American: that is Guayaquil. From the moment you touch down to the moment you take off again, this beautiful city will ensnare your senses and envelope you with its decadent cuisine, rich history, and vibrant streets.
This lush park is situated right by the Rio Guayas and has great views of the river and downtown core of Guayaquil along with a gardens and an IMAX theater.
For breathtaking views of the city, you can brave 400 steps or so up a hill, right? Come during sunset for a natural spectacular show and rest at the top with some ice cream.
True to its name, this park features a historical re-creation of life in the early 20th century in Guayaquil.
With its interesting street vendors and outdoor markets, La Bahia is the place to go for a stroll as well as bargain hunting.
When you've had your fill of the view and the parks, head to one of these picturesque beaches to relax, unwind, and work up a tan. Besides great food and nightlife, there is also the chance to whale-watch from June to September.
Situated just 2° south of the Equator on Ecuador's sultry Pacific coastline, the port city of Guayaquil is Ecuador's teeming commercial hub, its largest and most modern city, and humanity's sole transit point to the awe-inspiring nature of the Galápagos Islands. From Guayaquil's colonial era to the early 20th Century cocoa boom -- which was fundamental in the development of Ecuador's economy -- to the vast wildlife, unique traditions, culture, crafts and architecture of this low-lying city on the Guayas River, Parque Historico is a tranquil 20-acre park/zoo that beautifully links the deep historical significance of "La Perla del Pacifico" to its expansively modern future.
Back in the day, an approaching ship flying the black flag was sighted first from the vantage point of Cerro Santa Anna, or Santa Ana Hill: an iconic, 200-foot enclave offering a panoramic view of the city's surroundings. The site of the original Guayaquil settlement, you can follow the winding pathways dotted by shops, galleries and colorfully-painted hillside houses as you climb to the ancient fortifications and river-facing cannons that gallantly once tried to suppress those buccaneering cutthroats from the sea.
The ideal place to catch a cool evening breeze on an after-dinner stroll, Malecon 2000 is a modern urban park and 1.5-mile riverside boardwalk featuring ornate gardens, fountains, museums, playgrounds and a small commercial center where you can grab a mean sangria, a delightful cup of domestic coffee or a delicious plate of cheesy, golden-brown potato patties called llapingachos.
Halfway along the Malecon stands Guayaquil's most impressive monument La Rotonda, which iconically depicts the mysterious 1822 Guayaquil meeting between Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín. Flanked by handsome fountains and brilliantly illuminated at night, the monument celebrates two leaders who shared the broad aim of liberating South America from Spanish control. Yet nothing is known about their discussions in Guayaquil. After their conference, Bolivar triumphed with the creation of sovereign states in Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Panama, while San Martin quietly slipped out of Guayaquil and history's limelight forever. One can only surmise that together the two giants of South American independence were too big for Peru.
Be part of a fine crew by taking a scenic, hour-long river cruise on a replica of the schooner captained by the infamous, swashbuckling privateer Henry Morgan. As the kid-friendly cruise takes in Guayaquil's most emblematic sites such as Barrio las Peñas, Malecon and Puerto Santa Ana as well as dancing, shows and open bar, Capt. Morgan's immortal words from the 1940s movie The Black Swan may even come to mind: "You do not vote pirates off the seas. You engage them, rake, and scuttle them. My lords and gentlemen, we have ships, brave captains and fine crews."
Beginning in May and continuing through to December, Guayaquil experiences truly pleasant weather. Temperatures reach a peak of 82.4 in July. January to April is also warm but it's mostly rainy.
If you're going to be landing at Guayaquil's José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE), you're in luck: it was voted the best South American airport. To get to the city center, take a taxi for around USD$3.
Taking a train to Guayaquil is less about speed than it is about the actual journey. From Quito, for example, the journey includes meals and fares start at USD$50.
Getting from Mancora to Guayaquil takes around seven hours in all. Use the Panamericana Nte. and Highway E25.
International operator Cruz Del Sur runs rides from other major cities and countries like Peru. A trip from Peru to Guayaquil is around USD$93, but from Mancora to Guayaquil, it is significantly cheaper, with prices around USD$28.
The Grand Hotel Guayaquil will mesmerize you with its hanging gardens and waterfalls. For comfort on a dime, check in to La Fontana. Budget travelers will appreciate the hospitality at El Manso.
Prosperina - a residential neighborhood with smaller, local restaurants and beautiful vacation homes.
La Bahia - right on the banks of the Rio Guayas is La Bahia, a picturesque port neighborhood with gorgeous parks like Parque Seminario and Parque Centenario.
Urdesa - a hub of trendy and upscale shopping malls, bars, restaurants, and clubs, Urdesa is lit up and alive at all times.
Locals rely on the Metrovia, a rapid bus transit system. A single adult fare is USD$0.25 and a monthly pass is USD$10.
Taxis in Ecuador are recognizable as "standard" yellow cabs or "taxi amigos", which are a pre-booked service. If it's not metered, make sure to agree on a price before getting in. Metered fares start at USD$1 and it's USD$0.62 per mile thereafter.
Car rentals in Ecuador are readily available from companies like Ace Rent A Car and Alamo, with per-day prices starting at USD$18 to USD$29 for a compact, economy rental.
Within the Urdesa neighborhood, there are plenty of upscale shopping spots such as Aventura Plaza and Mall del Sol.
A quart of milk costs USD$1.13 and a dozen eggs will run you about USD$2.
A local favorite that's also easy on the pocket, La Parrilla del Ñato is always packed. Enjoy authentic Ecuadorian dishes like grilled meats for around USD$10.