In Holidays, Travel & Adventure

Manta 00

On April 16 2016, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 occurred around 190 km north of the town of Manta,  The very large thrust earthquake was the worst natural disaster to hit Ecuador since the 1949 Ambato earthquake and at least 661 people were killed and 27,732 people injured.


Manta was hard hit with its central commercial shopping district completely destroyed and the airport control tower so badly damaged the airport was closed. There were over 300 fatalities in Manta alone. The devastation caused from the earthquake is still visible around areas of Manta today. We were told that Sea Princess was the first cruise ship to return to the port of Manta following the earthquake and, importantly for the town, the return of cruise tourism and a much needed injection of tourist dollars.

Manta 05

Which for me meant some early morning shopping with a capital S (without guilt) at a nearby local craft market …

Manta 12

While Dave went off to photograph the wonderful (feathered) birdlife along the shore … including brown pelicans, snowy egrets with bad hair days, and circling frigate birds.

Manta 08

Manta 09

Manta 10

All in all we had a fantastic time in this lively port town that is centred around its fishing fleet and tuna fishing industry, before jumping in a taxi with friends to visit nearby Montecristi about 20kms away. Anyway, we think the photos of Manta and Montecristi speak for themselves – so hope you enjoy the photos below and get a sense of the great time you can have in this region if you visit.

Sea Princess docked near the town and a shuttle bus took us to the nearby market place.

Manta 04

Manta 06

At the port we were given such a warm welcome by the people of Manta, and found so much to do during our day ashore; we watched the huge tuna catches being unloaded, went shopping for alpaca knitwear and jewellery made from ivory nuts. We watched how Panama hats are made and found just the right one for me! ($20). I couldn’t resist buying one. I really love it – so light and cool.

Manta 17

We visited a bustling fish market …

Manta 03c

Manta 03b

And watched fishing boats, their holds filled with Tuna, return to Manta and tie up alongside Sea Princess to unload their catch.
Manta 03

Manta 02

We had a wonderful South American welcome at the dockside with Latin American music and dancers to greet us …

Manta has a mega tuna monument!

Manta 03a

Shopping at the market for alpaca knitwear …

Manta 11

Manta 13

Dave took a walk along the waterfront and took photos of the abundant birdlife  Below is a Snowy Egret in plumage display.

Manta 07

Driving to Montecristi we saw an amazing mosaic statue at a roundabout.

Manta 14

Montecristi is the birthplace of the Panama Hat (Panama hats are actually made in Ecuador!).

Manta 15

The best quality hats are known as Montecristis, after the town of Montecristi, where they are produced. We visited a Panama hat factory (above) and watched the local women painstakingly weave these iconic hats of the region (below).

Manta 16

A Panama hat is a traditional brimmed straw hat of Ecuadorian origin. Traditionally, hats were made from the plaited leaves of the Carludovica palmata plant, known locally as the toquilla palm or jipijapa palm, although it is a palm-like plant rather than a true palm.

Manta 18

Panama Hats

The art of weaving the traditional Ecuadorian toquilla hat was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists in 2012.

The two main processes in the creation of a Panama hat are weaving and blocking.

The quality of hats are largely determined by the weave.

The rarest and most expensive Panama hats are hand-woven with up to 3000 weaves per square inch. In February 2014, Simon Espinal, an Ecuadorian 47-year-old Panama hat weaver considered to be among the best at his craft, set a world record by creating a Panama hat with four thousand weaves per inch that took eight months to handcraft from beginning to end.

Manta 19

We had the most delicious seafood meal with our neighbours on board, Kerry and Di who were great company. We were serenaded at our table with Latin tunes, had wonderful fresh seafood washed down with South American beer, Cerveza, and for the four of us the whole bill only came to $50 – unbelievable value for fresh fresh seafood at a great local venue on the beach.

Manta 21

Manta 20


The view looking back on the town later that afternoon (when we got back on board Sea Princess) when we were told by friends on board that they’d spotted a Humpback Whale close to the ship as well as giant turtles.



As the sun dipped over the horizon, so Sea Princess sailed away. A loud burst on the ship’s horn signified our departure, and we were off, cruising towards Peru.

I’m travelling as a guest of Sea Princess but all opinions are my own.

Recommended Posts
Showing 6 comments
  • Life Images by Jill

    The panama hat suits you Jo – I want one too!

    • Johanna

      Thanks Jill – oh, if only I’d known – I could have got one for you!

  • Jodie Meikle

    Hi Jo, nice hat! What a pleasantly surprising port of call. PS Aussies are doing well in the Olympics? Is it getting a mention on the ship in the patters or wake show?

    • Johanna

      Hi Jodie, thank you! We’re getting the Olympic News in the daily newspaper (not the Patter) and we were getting some coverage on TV, but at the moment we’re in the middle of the Pacific. Yay, Go Aussies!

  • Kathy Marris

    Incredibly tragic about the earthquake. I’m glad that you got to visit to support their recovering economy (and of course go shopping!) You look good in a Panama hat, by the way, and so cheap at $20. I think Ecuador would be such an interesting country to visit. You have given me a nice little preview. 🙂

    • Johanna

      Great to have given a little preview Kathy – yes, it would be a great country to see more of – oh and Thanks! x

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Start typing and press Enter to search