Making the most of the swell

We were a bit disappointed when all our plans had to change because of our visa situation. We were going to stay in Mompiche to surf this big swell that was supposed to arrive in a few days. Instead, we had to drive to Guayaquil and take care of lots and lots of paperwork.

But luck was on our side and the visa application wasn’t bad at all. We only had to go one day, leave all the necessary paperwork and come back in a few days time. Perfect! We packed our bags again and decided to drive to a beach nearby to make the most of the swell.

This time we stayed at a beach called Pacoa. Although there’s no good waves in front of the house where we stayed at, it’s a pretty good spot; you can drive twenty minutes north and get some waves or drive thirty minutes south and get to other breaks. It was a great place to have as a base and save on accommodation.

On the way to the beach we stopped in Salinas to check all the spots there. We ended up surfing at El Barco. El Barco has a left and right peak. A long time ago a ship got stranded right in the middle of this peak dividing the left and the right, that’s why the wave is called “The ship”. Luckily a few years ago they finally removed this ship and now it’s a perfect peak again.

When we got there, it was small but fun.  The swell was making the left work better. It was longer and had a better shape. I decided to stay on the right because it was less crowded and Mick went to surf the left. Being a goofy footer he makes the most of any chance he can get on surfing on his front side.

The next morning we woke up early and started our surf check. We stopped at all the breaks between Pacoa and Salinas but none of them were working that well so we ended up surfing El Barco again. It was a bit bigger and with better shape. I had never surfed this wave before so it was a bit tricky at first, specially the right. It wasn’t the right swell direction for it so it was shifty and a bit short. There was not much of a crowd and that was our main concern. After living on the Gold Coast for 9 years all we both want is uncrowded waves, and we sure were getting them here in Ecuador.

Surfing in Ecuador is getting bigger every day. When I used to live here, the surfing community was still very small. There were some waves that nobody used to surf or they were so far, that no one would bother going there.  I was one of the only girl surfers and I would always get a weird look when I told people that I surfed. Nowadays there are many more surfers but the good thing is that they usually all go to the same spots every time there’s a big swell. They want to be where the action is. Mick and I took advantage of this and always chose other spots where we knew there would be less crowd or waited until a weekday to go to the busiest spots. We were successful in surfing with no crowds and really enjoying ourselves.

This was the case the following morning that we chose to avoid all the most known places and went to a wave called Capaes; another spot that I had never surfed before. We didn’t even know where to park the car to go down to the point as it is down a cliff. We drove around for a few minutes and parked at a hotel. Then found a dirt path down to the rocks. There were only 5 or 6 people out and a bit fat but perfect and glassy 4 to 5 feet left-hander.  We had scored gold!

After that surf session we drove happily to my uncle’s Nicolas beach house where we were going to get together with all the family. We were celebrating 5 years of my grandmother’s Blanca’s passing. It was a very important moment for me, because I wasn’t in the country when she passed away. We visited the town where she used to live when she was a girl and where they had the ceremony 5 years ago and we went to mass, (she was a Catholic). After it finished, we went back to my uncle’s house and had lunch there.

The swell was still on, so after we finished lunch we got back in the car and drove north, this time for 3 hours to get to Manta. Manta is the third largest city in Ecuador. It’s a big port and a very busy city beside the ocean. We tried to avoid staying in the city so found a hotel at a nearby town called Santa Marianita.  We were quite tired and went straight to bed after having dinner.

The hotel was a bit pricey for what we usually pay,  so we decided to make the most of the money we had paid and had the included breakfast before heading to the beach. We were so excited to surf this wave. I hadn’t surfed it in 10 years or more and I knew Mick was going to love it, because it’s a long and perfect left.

We were definitely rewarded; perfect  glassy 6 feet waves,  and only two guys out. This has been the best session we’ve had in Ecuador so far. The ocean was spoiling us. It was one of those days were you could get as many waves as you wanted. You’d get one and by the time you had paddled back there was another wave waiting for you. It was so much fun; there were long, with a big wall to do turns and strong enough to make it challenging. What a day!

The best part was, that most of the session it was Mick and I and the other two guys. By the time it got crowded(probably ten people in the water) we’ve had enough and paddled happily back in. We drove back to Guayaquil with a big smile on our faces, talking about how good the waves had been and just knowing how blessed we were. We were definitely hooked on surfing again.

Author: Isabel Romero

founder of Mingas por el Mar

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