As home to Ecuador’s second-largest seaport, Manta is a one of the most important economic cities in the country. So, far from rustic shores and a sleepy village, visitors to Manta can expect a modern urban hub, complete with vast beach, high rises, city slickers and lots and lots of fish.
This is the city that has a giant tuna statue welcoming its visitors, so it is no surprise that seafood is high on everybody’s list of important things. What was once a small fishing village has today grown into a mighty industry and ultra-fresh seafood – mostly tuna – takes pride of place. Thus, no trip to Manta is complete without sampling at least one of the local dishes. Foodies will salivate at the opportunity of tasting not only amazing tuna ceviche but also exquisitely prepared squid, octopus, lobster and inspired South American style tapas. If tasting the city’s legacy isn’t enough for you, then the Archaeological Museum of the Central Bank of Manta boasts an excellent collection of ceramics of the Manteño-Huancavilca culture that flourished here between 800 and 1550 A.D.
Manta’s seafood, beaches and boutiques might be enough for some people, but it is worth noting that picturesque Montechristi is only about 20 minutes away. Jump on a colourful (and colourfully authentic) Chivas bus for the short ride to the home of the Panama hat – which does not originate anywhere near Panama! The enchanting village has retained much of its faded Spanish elegance with its milliners by far its star attraction.