Home > Ecuador > Playas: sun, fun and superb gastronomy near Guayaquil, Part One

Playas: sun, fun and superb gastronomy near Guayaquil, Part One

June 10, 2011

Just a bit over an hour, southwest of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city and main seaport, a good paved road takes us to the coastal city of General Villamil, best known by the Ecuadorians, since eons ago, as “Playas”, which plainly translates into “beaches”. With Victor at the wheel, Ivan and I admire the tropical forest which dominates the region as we head for the famous area of Playas, Guayaquil’s most traditional and closest seaside beach resort.  Artificial irrigation, brought in during the last two decades, has started turning the otherwise arid flatlands into several oasis of greenery where water melons, tomatoes, cucumbers and small patches of maize grow.  Along the road we can also see some small plantations of mangos, their dark-leafed trees providing the only shade in the scorching tropical sun.

As the afternoon is almost coming to an end, we reach the center of General Villamil or Playas, with its bustling commercial activity booming on this Friday afternoon.  The main park features the traditional coastal church with its single small bell tower and turquoise blue walls.  Around the Park, small sidewalk kiosks sell a host of locally made handicrafts which utilize local woods, coral and shell pieces.  Loudspeakers announce all kinds of merchandise as we slowly traverse the downtown part of this picturesque fishing town.

A short distance from the center, there are the splendid beaches and we can see the Pacific Ocean, blue and calm, as we pull into the parking area of our small but comfortable and charming beach Hostel. After a rapid check-in process, we proceed to our beachfront suite, which features an ample balcony, with hammocks and a small deck table and chairs. The timing is perfect as we sip cocktails with tropical local fruits, watching one of those post-card picture sunsets. The beach is almost void of people and we can admire its enormous length and amazing width, which makes it one of the best in Ecuador.  The waves gently pound against the sand producing a thin layer of white foam.  To the southwest, the Pacific Ocean greets a flaming red sun disc, plunging into its waters, as the sky paints an aquarelle of rose, red, golden and orange color tones, an inspiring view… To the northeast, the lights of Playas’ Waterfront begin twinkling and inviting the tourists and locals alike, to enjoy the lively night atmosphere of this popular beach resort.

After enjoying the sunset, a refreshing dip at the swimming pool and a shower are the prelude to our first gastronomic experience with the famed seafood cuisine of Playas.  Sitting at a beachside, thatch-roofed restaurant, we start our dinner with a shared appetizer tray of braised conch shells, deliciously seasoned with fine herbs. Next, I indulge on a superb oven-baked sea bass, fresh catch of the day, served on a plantain leaf and decorated with red and yellow stripes of bell peppers.  The platter is served, typically coastal Ecuadorian style, with a steaming bowl of white rice and small slices of fried plantain.  Ivan opts for another typical recipe of hot jumbo shrimps cooked with coconut milk and hot spices, served also with rice… The hearty dinner deserves the honor of wine, and of course we enjoy two glasses of a good white Chilean Chardonnay.  Desert is a local variety of a banana split, with nicely garnished slices of the tiny and deliciously sweet “orito” bananas, served with mango ice cream.  No wonder the area is well known for its fine cuisine, which utilizes local and typical recipes and ingredients, combined with fusion elements.

A stroll along the now nicely illuminated Waterfront Promenade of Playas, brings us to a small amusements park, complete with merry-go-round and spinning wheel.  We decide to take a ride aboard a colorful little “worm dragon”, a convoy of small, children-size cars, which merrily tours the central streets of Playas winding back and forth, pulled by a motorized head car and complemented by loud tropical music, as we leave adulthood for a while to enjoy the feeling of being children again.  A couple of beers at a beachside bar prepare us for a good rest, before a new day of adventure on the fascinating Playas area.  We will tell you about it on the next issue…..      

  • Playa Rosada, situada cerca del faro, es un sitio apacible para los bañistas y especial para excursiones.
  • También puede ir a visitar el hermoso Santuario de la Virgen de la Roca.
  • Cerca del club Casa Blanca, se puede observar pelícanos y otras aves del sector.
  • Punta El Pelado, en la vía al recinto Engabao, es una agradable y tranquila playa ideal para caminatas y campamentos, con deliciosa comida típica.
  • La cabalgata a caballo por sus hermosas playas es uno de sus principales atractivos.
  • La casa de don Víctor Estrada es un verdadero relicario del pasado histórico y cultural.

En este cantón existen una gran cantidad de platos típicos que hacen de la visita a Playas una verdadera delicia gastronómica. Entre lo más apetecidos están una buena variedad de cebiches de langosta, langostino, camarón, concha, pescado, pulpo o mixtos, arroz marinero, pescados enteros al carbón, encebollado de albacora, ostra asada y hamburguesas de avestruz.

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