This post is in partnership with the Montañita Spanish School. We received complimentary lessons in exchange for our honest review, but all opinions are our own.
It is definitely possible to travel without knowing another language, but damn! You sure get more out of it when you can communicate without pantomiming pig ears at restaurants and repeating city names in 4 different tones before finding the right pronunciation. We’ve traveled around the world with little more than English, Portuguese, and some pretty sad Spanish, but we wanted South America to be different. We partnered with the Montañita Spanish School for surf lessons and to learn Spanish in Ecuador.
Think you might want to learn Spanish in Ecuador? Here’s everything you need to know about Montañita and the Montañita Spanish School.
Montañita is a pretty little beach town on the Pacific coast of Ecuador. Sitting just 1 ° from the equator, you can expect moderate temperatures and rideable waves year around. Montañita has become popular amongst travelers, resulting in a place more international than its tiny size would suggest. You can dine on everything from Nutella crepes, to Margherita pizzas, to ceviche fresh from the ocean. You’ll shop in Chinese-owned corner stores and practice your Spanish with Argentinians passing through. You’re destined to meet people from all over the world who have fallen for sandy feet and a laid back lifestyle.
Are you traveling in Ecuador? You might also like our post on 51 fun + unique things to do in Ecuador!
While best known for nightlife and other debauchery, we were pleasantly surprised with Montañita. Things get rowdy, but unlike other beach towns with a reputation (here’s looking at you, Koh Phi Phi), Montañita isn’t too crowded yet. It offers an excellent balance of too late Friday nights and Tuesday sunrise jogs. You can read in a hammock all day or you can stay out until 7am (or maybe do both). Let’s just say it’s easy to understand why Montañita is damn near impossible to leave.
About the Montañita Spanish School
You can study Spanish in Quito or Cuenca, but if you want to go barefoot while you learn Spanish in Ecuador, Montañita Spanish School is the best spot to do it. Classrooms overlooking the ocean sure beat any Spanish classroom we’ve ever had!
Spanish Classes in Montañita: At the Montañita Spanish School, you can choose between 20-hours of private or group lessons each week. Classes start on Monday, and a placement exam determines which of six levels (S1, A1, A2, B1, B2, C1) is the best fit. The daily class schedule is broken out into four two-hour sessions. You’ll study for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, leaving plenty of time for beach trips and surf lessons. Group classes range from two to six people. If you’re the only one at your level, you will instead get 15-hours of private lessons for the same cost.
The classes follow a rigorous curriculum, so you can expect to cover a new topic every day. This often means moving past a topic without full confidence, but you’ll get plenty of repetition in subsequent classes. Daniel started out in A2 with a group of six, while I started in B2 alongside one other person. We’d recommend taking lower level Spanish as group lessons, and progressing into private lessons as your Spanish skills improve. The groups are small and dynamic, but you can learn exponentially faster with customized attention and one-on-one conversation.
Prices: Weekly prices for 20-hours of Spanish classes are $170 (group lessons) and $240 (private lessons) + a $20 registration fee. Compared to just about any other country, you’ll save quite a bit by choosing to learn Spanish in Ecuador.
Surf Lessons in Montañita: If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to surf, Montañita is a pretty epic place to do it! With beginner waves on one side and a point break at the other, there are surf opportunities for all levels. The Montañita Spanish School offers surf lessons twice a day that line up with either class schedule. You’ll load into a well-loved Mitsubishi and head for a mid-day surf break with the surf instructor and intern. We skipped out on surf lessons (because we’re weenies), but just about everyone studying Spanish takes surf lessons too.
Prices: The weekly price for 5 surf lessons (7.5 hours) is $80. Once you get confident, you can swap out your weekly surf lessons for a 7 day board rental. Board rentals on the beach average $5-8 hourly, so if you plan on getting a lot of use out of the board, the 7 day rental is the best way to go!
Yoga Classes in Montañita: Yoga classes are offered everyday, both at sunrise and sunset. The instructor teaches Vinyasa yoga, and we’re not sure if we can think of a better way to maximize relaxation (and detox) in Montañita.
Prices: Yoga classes cost $7 for the first class, and $5 for all subsequent classes.
Volunteering in Montañita: As Montañita is a super popular tourist destination, volunteering is a great opportunity to get beneath the surface. The Montañita Spanish School can help you arrange a project aligned with your skills. You can lend your time (and your English skills) to the local aquarium, nursery, or primary school. If you have medical experience, you might also consider studying medical Spanish and volunteering in a local clinic.
Prices: There is a one-time administration fee for general volunteering ($30)and medical volunteering ($50). You’re also asked to make a monthly donation to the organization ($70) or medical facility ($100) to support the organization that you’re working with.
Traveling Classroom: If you’d like to explore Ecuador while learning Spanish, you might consider the 4-12 week traveling classroom (~$2,000/month). With classes available in Quito, Cuenca, Montañita, Manta, and the Amazon, you can explore new parts of the country without sacrificing your language learning.
The Montañita Cabañas: The Montañita Spanish School has a partner accommodation — the Montañita Cabañas. The cabañas are cozy dorm and private rooms where many of the students at the school stay. If you’re looking for a social hostel that is a bit more adult than the party hostels, the Montañita Cabañas are definitely part of the experience.
The Homestays: The Montañita Spanish School also partners with homestay families that open their home to students of the school. A homestay is undoubtedly the best way to experience Ecuadorian culture and solidify your Spanish.
Salsa Lessons in Montañita: You know, we’d never thought to learn salsa in Ecuador, but after some serious fails in Medellín, we were excited to try out the classes. Taught to the level of the students, salsa lessons happen every weeknight and are super worth trying.
Why should I learn Spanish in Ecuador? Where to start? Ecuador has one of the clearest accents in South America, making it a great place to start your Spanish. Spanish classes are a bit more affordable than you’ll find in countries like Costa Rica, Peru, or Panama. Finally, we think there are tons of fun things to do in Ecuador and we were lucky to have spent so much time here.
What is there to do in Montañita? While Montañita is a tiny town, its location on the coast makes it a great starting point for surf trips, whale watching trips to Puerto Lopez, excursions to Isla de la Plata, or trips to the Galapagos. In Montañita, you can enjoy international food, mojitos on cocktail alley, yoga, and all things chill.
How long should I study? We thought 2 weeks was a great amount of time to improve our Spanish before traveling on our own. We still have a lot to learn, but the classes laid a good foundation for independent learning. Once you’ve made your booking with the school, it’s very difficult to get a refund, so we’d recommend only booking for as long as you’re sure you want to stay. It’s super easy to add on weeks after you get a feel for things!
wanna study at the Montañita Spanish School?
Phone: From abroad: (593-4) 2060116; In country: (04) 2060116
Address: Via Principal in Montañita, 50 meters before the bus stop
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