S: 1° 50’00″80 W: 80°45’00”
We recently met with Lisa in Amsterdam who stayed in Montañita for 3 months via SurfaWhile. We asked Lisa about her experiences in the language school, surfing and Montañita itself. We also talked to her about making a trip on your own, and why everyone should do that once!
Surfing and Spanish in Montañita
Why did you decide to go to Montañita?
I just wanted to get away and really do something, not just vacation but also add something for myself and locally. I have always wanted to go to Ecuador and through Surfawhile I came across the language school in Montañita. Then I finally arranged that I could work there for 3 months. In addition, of course, came learning Spanish and surfing. I wanted to stay somewhere for a longer period of time in order to get to know a new place really well.
What is it like to stay in the Montañita Spanish school?
That is what was very special about this place for me. The language school, accommodation and surfing lessons are all centrally managed. Everything is super well coordinated and you are amongst people all day long. What I liked the most were the cabanas. These are the huts that you stay in and they are all close to each other around the pool. Outside of the lessons you can chill here all day long and get to know people quickly. The staff also comes here regularly and you also have a lot of contact with them. I think that is the power of Montanita, you will really become part of the family. Every Monday there is also a group dinner for the new people, so that they also enjoy the group right away. There are also often games evenings and barbecues at the cabanas, so a really close group is created when you are there for a while. You are with the same people all the time and everyone has the same schedule, then you automatically make friends and you go out together.
So it feels kind of like a community?
Yes definitely. Also with the surf lessons for example, the instructors you also see a lot at the language school and if something is organized at the Cabanas then the ones are there too. That way it is not that you get to know a new person and that it is something new again. Everything and everyone is working together and you indeed get a kind of community idea, I thought that was super cool!
What is the role of the staff in this community feeling?
The staff is very involved with everything, for example if there are games evenings or dinners, they are always there. Sometimes even with the surf lessons! Also on Wednesdays we often play volleyball on the beach and then everyone is just there too. The staff also regularly asks the students if there is something they would like to do. For example, we once had a cooking course where we learned to cook local dishes. They are therefore very involved and really part of the community. What also played a big part for me was the fact that the staff really pushes you to get the best out of yourself in terms of Spanish by often starting conversations. If you like this, you can sometimes chat with them for an entire afternoon, so you naturally also build a band, which adds to the community feeling.
What does a typical day look like?
It is quite intensive, because you have Spanish lessons in the morning and afternoon. Between these lessons you often have 2 to 3 hours in which you can surf and have lunch. There is a surf schedule and a Spanish schedule per day, and that always fits in so that you can participate in everything. Everything is super close together so you have enough time to surf, and you do it every day. The great thing about the language school is that you can go your own way, even though there is such a strong community feeling. For example, you can also go to the beach after the Spanish lessons in the afternoon to surf, super cool for when you can’t get enough of the waves!
What is there to do in Montañita?
It is a very small village but it doesn’t feel that way. There are many, many small tents where you can go. For example the restaurants, most have no more than 4 tables, so on a street you sometimes have 20 restaurants. Because of this there is always something new to try. And it is precisely because it is so small that you can do everything on foot, so you will also come across surf shops, coffee shops, cocktail bars and so on. What you do notice is that there are quite a few people who have moved from Western countries to Montanita, so you get a nice mix of local restaurants and trendy places where you can get a smoothie bowl, for example! This gives you a sense of home when you’re on the other side of the world. And I would almost forget but you can also walk super well! You can party all night if you want, one of the clubs closed at 7 o’clock in the morning. So in that respect you have the complete picture in Montanita.
Is it s place you can travel to alone?
Most people, around 90% come alone but you never stay alone in Montanita for long. Of course you have dinner for the new people on Monday and you also know in advance that you will come to the class with several people. The ages also vary quite a bit, from 16 to 35 on average, because of this you will always be sitting with someone your age which is also nice. The staff also makes you feel welcome immediately, and the other people who are there are generally also welcome. Occasionally there are also couples or small groups, but the same goes for it. You also do a lot together, often with food and there are always people at the pool. If you are thinking about traveling alone but you still have doubts about being alone then I can guarantee that this will not happen in Montanita!
Do you have any tips for solo travellers?
I think everyone who goes traveling alone is nervous. You are going to do something new in a place that you do not know, there is always some sort of tension involved. But I also think you should just go, when you get there it is gone in one go. Everyone has the same tension and it is new for everyone. In addition, it is really not true that you come to Montanita in a slum or something. There are super nice hostels, restaurants (even western if you want) and new people! The only real tip is to just do it and be open to new experiences. Even if it is nothing, you learn from it and that is worth something.
Check out our page on learning Spanish and Surfing in Montañita for more information about this beautifull destination.