KITESURFING HOLIDAYS - SANTA MARIANITA
Ideal, safe learning conditions combined with the latest equipment, a long beach, warm water and constant winds make learning here a doddle. You can also kite with the whales migrating south, from June to August. Once the sun has set, relax by the pool and soak up the tropical atmosphere or head 15 minutes into Manta for a busy cultural city experience.
Santa Marianita is a four kilometre long beach. As you come down the coastal road, the main kiting spot is just off to the right. Other than an occasional shore-break, there's just a huge, safe riding area to take advantage of. Pacific tides are minimal for most of the year, meaning all levels of rider can enjoy this spot. You can even do a 14 kilometre downwinder to arrive at Manta main beach; a great way to see the Ecuadorian fishing villages. Recommended kite sizes are nine to 13 metres.
Santa Marianita has a micro-climate with a thermal wind created from the cold Humbolt current and the dry, hot, arid environment of Manta. Sites like Windguru can give inaccurate readings therefore. Ecuador Kitesurf are installing a wind meter this season, though. Thermal winds kick-in around 10am and die down just before sunset at 5pm. The main wind season is mid-May to mid-January. May to mid-September produce steady 14 - 22 cross-onshore winds almost every day, blowing over mainly flat and choppy waters with an average water temperature of 24°C/75°F. The air temp sits at 25-30°C/77-86°F and night times remain balmy. Mid-September to the end of October see 12 - 20 knot cross-shore winds. Winds maybe just a little less frequent, but the water is still lovely at 20°C / 68°F and the air sits pretty at 24°C/75°F. It can be overcast at times and is chillier at night. The big swells come in with the full moon from November to January when the wind backs more cross-onshore and the air gets warmer; 25-30°C / 77-86°F.
Fly into Ecuador's capital city, Quito (UIO). Catch a 30 minute connecting flight for US$70 or take an eight hour bus ride to Manta for US$9. Manta is just 15 minutes away via a $10 taxi with a population of 200,000. No need to hire a car as taxis are plentiful, cheap and safe. Also, local trucks pass Santa Marianita every 30 minutes and will drop you in the city for $1. In Manta tourists can be targets for petty crime, but Santa Marianita is mainly a kiter zone with a safe and relaxed atmosphere and a few local restaurants that mainly sell fish, rice and fried banana. The place to eat and stay at is the Santa Marianita Hotel, with good coffee, fresh juices and fruit salad plus local seafood delights. You can check the wind from your room and there's also table tennis, chess, Wi-Fi, outdoor pool and restaurant areas. Qualified Spanish teachers come to the hotel as a part of Ecuador Kitesurf's kite and Spanish programme.
Alternatively, head into the city and stay at the five star Oro Verde hotel, or ten minutes from the beach there are environmentally friendly lodges in the tropical forest. From June to August many single American and European groups visit and head three hours south to Montanita for a better weekend of partying with 18- to 25-year-olds.
Surfing, SUP, kayaking, hiking in the forest, rent a bike or head into Manta for museums and markets. A popular trip is to Montecristi; the birth place of the panama hat, which is 20 minutes away.
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