Without a doubt Guayaquil is Ecuador's best destination, when I've got there I did not have any expectation on my mind, but as soon as I started to discover this summery city right on the Pacific Coast of Ecuador I was starting to enjoy myself.
Guayaquil is not only the largest Ecuadorean city but also is the finantial capital of the Ecuadorean economy, here many millions of US dollar move their economy based on the Banana's largest world exporter and the Shrimp exportation plus many Ecuadorean Industries are home of Guayaquil's business district, the main tourist attraction for Guayaquil is the investment of over 300 millions US dollar in a brand new harbor along the Guayas River.
This brand new pier has been opened since 2000, when they opened their first section, now the whole structure is wide open, more than 2 miles long of places to shop, eat and being discover is the Malecon 2000, this architectonical design built by the Oxford University of London is a great tourist attraction of the entire population, Guayaquil's pride is based on the New Renovated Guayaquil, the entire city had been going to a renovated process that took more than Ten Years to built.
Guayaquil is well known for being the "Pacific Pearl" due to its natural beauty and marvelous surroundings. The New Guayaquil as the locals call them is becoming the TOP 10 Latinamerican destination and is expected to reach the Top 5 destinations in a few years. On top of that Guayaquil is the New Gateway to the Galapagos Islands, from there anyone can conect very easily to the Islands, without any stops on the way or lay over, due to Geographical reasons Guayaquil is the gateway closer destination to the Galapagos Islands, and also from here you can conect very easily to most US and European destination because Guayaquil offers a 24 hours International Airport with brand new technology, Guayaquil's tourist potential is expected to be increase in 47% for the next two years and is becoming a well known latinamerican tourist destination.
When you get into Guayaquil's harbor, a good way to Start up knowing the place is going to this huge Waterfront that they just build is call Malecon 2000 then, you will find many places to eat, shop and take an awesome pictures, just make sure you will have your cam handy, this remarkable place has a lot of history and it is a beautiful scenery you will love it, we went for three days in a role, excellent.
This Malecon 2000 or Pier 2000 has almost 2 miles long, so will have plenty to do if you can't finished seeing all at once, they even have an IMAX 3 D theather in there, like the US I had never been in an Imax theater back home until I tried this one in Guayaquil, was Great we all loved.
If you would like to learn more about the Guayaquil history places, take the Ferry right there on the Malecon Pier and be ready to be transport back in time where this booming city was the main Cocoa Productor of the latinamerican region, this dynamic city started growing up its rich economic foundation back in the earlies 1800, then has become the First World Banana exporter and now is on the top 5 list of Shrimp Exporters, they even have their own World Trade Center.
Guayaquil offers many hotels to fit anyone's budget, many lodge are very economical and of curse the Hilton as a luxurious one, also many Foreigns Hotels has invested in Guayaquil like the Oro Verde Hotel run by the Swiss, spotless and very clean is one of my favors with an excellent gourmet food and very good buffets.
This was a more pleasant walk. You had a more relaxed look at the shops. It is better to look on the way up and buy on the way down. The same with food. If you can drink at night and do these steps you have more grace than I do.
At the top of Las Penas is the Fort. This was an ideal spot for the lookouts and defense positions in the 19th and 20th centuries. Now there is a light house behind where the cannons are positioned. It looks good at night but they say it is of no navigational value.
Malecon 2000 lies between the city an the Guayas River. There are cafe style restaurants, fast food stalls, many outdoor vendors. Plus there is an indoor shopping mall, "Centro Comerical Malecon". You can "cool off" for a bit from the humidity and find just about anything you want in the many stores located there.
444 steps sounds like alot, and it probably would be if you wanted to walk them all at once. It is a good thing for this 56 year old body that there are several places on the way up to have a snack or a cool drink. There are also some shops and good places for pictures.
Whether before or after your visit to the Metropolitan Cathedral, a stop in Simon Bolivar park to greet the other Guayailleños will definitely add to your multicultural interspecies experience.
They may look alien, and they don't speak your language, but they are calm and friendly - and if your nice and approach them calmly, they'll let you touch them.
A recommended activity, specially at night, is to go up "Cerro de Santa Ana" stairs, a path that will lead you to the top of this hill from where you will find a beautiful view of the city.
Besides, on the way you will see several small bars, caffes, restaurants and souvenir shops installed in redisegned houses (you can see pictures of how old houses used to be hanging on facades). The path is safe, with guards every 20 m, but I'd advice you not to try to move farther away the marked path
Going at night might be better for many because you dont have to deal with ecuatorial sun, plus Gquil nights by the river side are always quite fresh. In any case, keep in mind that there are 444 steps from bottom to top. Good luck!
Guayaquil has a new malecon, west of the Malecon 2000, on the Salado estuary. From the south end of this malecon you can take a 45 minute boat tour through the estuary for $3. The tour operates on Saturdays and Sundays only, and leaves every hour on the hour from about 10 to 6.
In general, you go through a very poor part of the city along the estuary, where the houses are falling into the water. However, you can see the Barcelona futbol stadium and a cement factory!
The Guayaquil riverfront area, once a dirty dangerous place, has recently been renovated and is the number one attaction in the city.
At all hours of the day and late into the night, tourists can stroll the full 2km of its length, enjoying the gardens, buildings, river, restaurants, shops, and museums, without any worry of being harrassed or robbed!
If you have just one day to spend in Guayaquil, save at least 2 hours for the Malecon 2000.
This park, located in the Centro, is something you really do need to see if you come to the city. Iguanas have bred and bred to the point where they have comepletely taken over a park in front of the city cathedral, and are more of a tourist draw than the cathedral itself.
Bring some bananas if you really want to see a stampede. Don't worry about petting the iguanas, they don't care - just don't stand under the trees for too long unless you have an umbrella!!
Did you ever imagine to be in the middle of a bunch of hungry dinosaur-descendants?
That's possible in Guayaquil and I tell you, it is really a spectacular show, though fortunately for we humans, they prefer cabbages and lettuces,
Go to Iguanas Park at lunch-time and enjoy the show (but take care where you stand, some of them rush and might fall on you) :)
There is many thing to do in Guayaqui, cruise the Guaya River night or day, Museum and Central Park, Las Penas, El Parque Historico de Guayaquil(lots of exotic animal and fauna) and around Guayaquil Also.
I think Guayaquil is a great city to start you journey in Ecuador. You are only 1 hour to the closest beach, 4 hour to Cuenca, 5 hour to Banos, and 1 hour to Galapagos Islands
Locals and tourists alike fill the walk daily. It's a great place for lunch or a stroll with a view.
Cerro Santa Ana, the hill at the northern end of Malecon 2000, is the oldest part of Guayaquil. Las Penas and its 444 steps are located here.