The Spondylus Route and Salinas: Ecuador-style road trip

In Ecuador alone, the Spondylus route covers 748 km from Mataje in the province of Esmeraldas on the border with Colombia to Salinas in Santa Elena.

You’re probably familiar with Costa del Sol, the Gold Coast or the Rivera Maya, but this may be the first time that you hear anything about the Spondylus Route.

This thorny seashell, which was a sacred symbol of wealth and fertility for pre-Colombian cultures, shares its name with what was formerly known as the Ruta del Sol, a road that travels along the Pacific Ocean from northern Peru to southern Colombia.

Spondylus Route, the perfect plan for your holidays

In Ecuador alone, the country that promotes the Spondylus Route the most, it stretches out across 748 km, specifically from Mataje in the province of Esmeraldas on the border with Colombia to Salinas in Santa Elena along the E15 Ecuador state road.

Some of the appeals of this coastal route include more than a dozen ecological reserves, including the Cayapas-Mataje reserve in the San Lorenzo canton, with moist tropical forests and mangroves, and Machalilla National Park along the southern coast of the province of Manabí. This is the only island-continental reserve in Ecuador and it is home to many of the nation’s best beaches as well as rare animal species such as jaguars, ocelots, bush dogs, lowland pacas (guantas), agoutis, and colored squirrels. Humpback whales can also be seen during certain seasons.

The route ends in Salinas, the best place for a few days of rest. Located in the Santa Elena Peninsula on the western end of the country, it’s the most popular city for tourism in Ecuador.

During the summer season between December and May, travelers and locals from Guayaquil (only 1.5 hours away) come here to enjoy the climate—which ranges from 21 °C to 33 °C (70 °F to 91 °F) with minimal rainfall—as well as the beaches surrounded by saltwater lagoons that are perfect for recreational fishing, sailing, surfing and scuba diving. Visitors come here for the sports scene as well as the exciting nightlife. The perfect plan? Going out for dinner to enjoy traditional dishes, seafood or bolones (fried green plantain dumplings) stuffed with cheese and chicharrones at Playa Chipipe, the largest and liveliest and also where the Salinas Yacht Club is located, and dancing until dawn.

To discover the Spondylus Route and the city of Salinas, book a room at the Barceló Salinas hotel.