In the late afternoon every Friday, volunteers and students at Río Muchacho Organic Farm pile into the back of large, slow-moving trucks. They are then bounded along the bumpy, winding dirt road that leads roughly 10 miles southwest into the tiny beach town of Canoa. The educational/agro tourism farm on Ecuador’s coast, north of Manta, promotes sustainable living through various courses and programs. This idyllic setting has no Internet or cellular phone service, electricity is sometimes spotty, meals are vegetarian, and alcohol is prohibited.
While the hard work and clean living are rewarding, most visitors are ready to cut loose at the weekend, and Canoa provides the requisite surf, sand, sun, booze and greasy burgers. The sleepy fishing village is popular with backpackers and Ecuadorian surfers, so it comes alive on weekends. But this is not exactly party central of the tacky Mayan Riviera variety—while you can stumble across the occasional beach party or a couple of discotheques, it still retains its mellow village vibe. The beach is the main draw and is renowned for its spectacular sunsets.