Ecuador // The northern lowlands and coast //


Located some 35km south of the big resorts, luxury seaside villas and condominiums, MUISNE lies just beyond the range of most serrano vacationers, giving the place a slightly abandoned feel. Nonetheless, the relaxed and friendly air draws a reasonable amount of travellers down to this unusual, rather exotic resort, sitting on a seven-kilometre palm-fringed sand bar amid the mangrove swamps just off the mainland, reached only by boat from the small town of El Relleno, across the Río Muisne.

As you dock, first impressions are not promising. The salty breeze, equatorial sun and high humidity bring buildings out in an unsightly rash of peeling paint and mouldy green concrete, giving the place a dilapidated appearance – upkeep and construction are expensive, as materials have to be laboriously hauled in from the dock.

The island itself splits into two distinct parts, connected by the double boulevard of Isidro Ayora, which runs 2km from the docks to the beach. The town’s main shops and services cluster around the dock, where the police, post office and hospital are located, a close distance to the modest parque central on Isidro Ayora. Muisne’s main attractions lie at the boulevard’s other end, where crashing breakers and a broad, flat beach are fronted by a handful of inexpensive hotels, restaurants and the odd bar, all shaded by a row of palms.

For security reasons, do not take valuables onto the beach, walk on it at night or venture into deserted areas. From time to time you may notice pinprick-like stings when swimming in the ocean; these are caused by tiny jellyfish (aguamala), whose sting doesn’t last much longer than ten minutes. Locals claim a splash of vinegar relieves the pain – ask at a beachside restaurant.

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