Canoa Spanish Language School

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Arrival Info

What is the best airport in Ecuador for arrival to Canoa?

Do I need a Visa or onward ticket to enter Ecuador?

What hotel services are available for an overnight in Quito?

What are the bus schedules for arriving from Quito?

What are the bus schedules for arriving from Guayaquil?

 

Payment and Bank Services

What other extra costs are involved other than the program prices indicated.

How does your payment work?

Do you accept credit cards or travelers checks? Are ATMs available?

Are refunds available if I leave early?

 

Hotel Services

What is the difference between private, shared private and shared hostel rooms?

What about the food menu? Are vegetarian menus available?

What electricity and outlets are used?

Is Internet and phone service available?

Is laundry service available?

Is bottled water available?

 

Lessons

Can I arrive on any day of the week to begin lessons?

Should I bring anything else that I might need for studies?

What is the average quantity, age and nationality of your other students?

 

Miscellaneous

What is the weather like?

Are there insect problems or related diseases in Canoa?

What about surfing, surf lessons, and board rentals?

 

 

Arrival Info

 

What is the best airport in Ecuador for arrival to Canoa?

It's hard to say which airport is better for you if you are coming direct to Canoa. If one is much cheaper than the other, go there.

International carriers include American, Continental, Iberia and KLM. Latin American airlines include Tame, Avianca, Lacsa, Copa and ServiVensa.

Most of our students have come through Quito, arriving late and taking a hotel for the night. Quito is a much more popular destination and has lots of inexpensive hotel options andtourist facilities.

With the completion of the new Mariscal Sucre Airport outside of Quito, it is more time and cost to get into Quito hotels. For those arriving on night flights, we advise reserving a room in the Mariscal district of downtown Quito, and taking a taxi from the airport to your hotel. Buying your taxi inside the terminal, it should cost about $25. Another option they offer is to pay $8 per person for a bus shuttle service to the old airport location in Quito, but from there it is a $10 taxi to the Mariscal area anyways. It seems a lot of hassle to save $7 by not taking a taxi direct, and for a couple, taking the shuttle ends up costing more!

If you arrive to Quito earlier in the day, you have the option of taking a night bus to Canoa, in which case you can take a taxi from the new airport directly to the Reina del Camino office in the Mariscal area for $25, to arrive in Canoa early the next morning.

Guayaquil has more bus options, with buses leaving to Bahia every hour all day. Also, it is 2 hours less travel by bus to Canoa. The problem with Guayaquil is it offers less in terms ofbudget traveler accommodations. You could check out the Guayaquil hotels on the Internet.

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Do I need a Visa or onward ticket to enter Ecuador?

Most nationalities do not require visas for Ecuador. Upon entry you are automatically given a 90-day tourist visa, which is normally renewable for another 30 to 90 days more bypaying a fine.

Legally, you do need to have a 2-way ticket at entry, but we’ve NEVER heard of any European or North American tourist being asked for one. They just take your passport atimmigration and usually give you a 3 month tourist stamp. If you were checked for an onward ticket, I think you would be the first.

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What hotel services are available for an overnight in Quito?

There are many options for hotels and hostels in Quito. Forhotels near the airport, there are a few for over $20 a night. Mosttravelers stay in the newer area of downtown called the"Mariscal". A taxi there from the airport at night should cost $5or $6. A reasonably inexpensive private room with bath will run between $8and $18. Shared rooms run from 5 to 6 dollars.

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What are the bus schedules for arriving from Quito?

For those arriving on late night flights, we advise reserving a room in the Mariscal district of downtown Quito, and taking a taxi from the airport to your hotel. Buying your taxi inside the terminal, it should cost about $25. Another option they offer is to pay $8 per person for a bus shuttle service to the old airport location in Quito, but from there it is a $10 taxi to the Mariscal area anyways. It seems a lot of hassle to save $7 by not taking a taxi direct, and for a couple, taking the shuttle ends up costing more. If you arrive to Quito earlier in the evening, you have the option of taking a night bus to Canoa, in which case you can take a taxi from the new airport directly to the Quitumbe bus terminal to arrive in Canoa early the next morning.

All buses travelling feom Quito to the coast of Ecuador now leave from the Quitumbe (pronounced KEE-TOOM-BAY) bus terminal in south Quito.

The best option for traveling from Quito to Canoa is with the bus company Reina del Camino. This is the only current company with direct first class buses to the area.Reina del Camino offers two choices in first class buses. Their first bus option is to Bahia, which leaves Quitumbe at 1:00 pm and arrives in Bahia around 8:00 pm. From The terminal in Bahia you can take a $10 taxi to the Sundown Hotel. The second option is a direct night bus to Canoa, which leaves the Quitumbe terminal at 11:30 pm. It stops in Canoa around 5:30 am. From there it is a $2 taxi to the Sundown. The only problem with this option is that there is no actual bus station in Canoa, and there may not be taxis to get to the Sundown at this hour, so you may find yourself sitting outside on the street for a while waiting for a taxi.

Another option is to head to the Quitumbe terminal by taxi early morning and catch a bus to Pedernales or Bahia. There are a few options and departure times to Bahia or Pedernales with various bus companies, Reina del Camino probably the best. None of these other options however are Ejecutivo (first class), so more stops are made along the way. If you go to Pedernales, you should arrive in about 6-7 hours. From Pedernales, take the next available bus south, which goes to Jama, Canoa and onward to San Vicente. These buses leave about every half hour, the most common company being Coactur. The trip will take around 1.5 hours, putting you in Canoa late afternoon.

In any case, it is advisable to show up to buy any ticket an hour in advance. If it is a day bus, try to get a window seat near the front on the right hand side for the best views while descending down the Andes. You need to show your passport to buy a ticket, and expect a possible light search if taking a ejecutivo bus.

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What are the bus schedules for arriving from Guayaquil?

You need to take a taxi to the Terminal Terrestre, which is the inter-provincial bus station. From there, buy a ticket to Bahia de Caraquez. The ride is 5 to 6 hours. From Bahia you can take a taxi to the Sundown Inn for about $5-$6. Make sure that you tell thedriver that you want to get off at the Sundown Inn, BEFORE you arrive in Canoa, because our hotel is about 2 km south of the town center.

"Coactur" has regular buses Guayaquil-Bahia every hour from 4:30 AM to 5:30 PM, none of them being first class, or "ejecutivo".

The other option is with "Reina de Camino";, which has buses at 5:00 a.m., 5:45a.m., 8:00a.m, 9:45a.m., 11:30a.m., 12:15p.m., 3:20p.m., 4:40p.m.(ejecutivo), 6:00p.m.,9:00p.m., 11:00p.m.(ejecutivo), and 11:30p.m.

Late or night buses are not recommended out of Guayaquil, unless they are first class.

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Payment and Bank Services

 

What other extra costs are involved other than the program prices indicated.

Study materials are extra. Our current basic study text costs $12, and paper and notebooks, etc as you require can be purchased cheaply in local stores. For extras at the Inn suchas soft drinks or bar drinks you can run a tab. Soft drinks are 50 cents, while large beers (575 ml.) and bar drinks run between 1 and 2 dollars.

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How does your payment work?

No advance payments are required. Normal payment method is cash, 50% on starting your program, and 50% more halfway through. In the meantime you can run a tab on all extras (bar,colas, etc.).

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Do you accept credit cards or travelers checks? Are ATMs available?

Sorry, no credit cards or travelers checks accepted directly by us. Credit card companies charge businesses here a large percentage making it impossible to offer our low rates. Also, banks withhold payment to businesses on third-party travelers checks for four weeks.

Still, there is no need to travel with large amounts of cash because you can get cash advances on Visa or MasterCard in nearby Bahia, or there is also a funtioning Plus/Cirrus ATM. We can send someone with you for assistance if needed.

NOTE: RECENT VISITORS HAVE INDICATED LOCAL BANKS NO LONGER ACCEPT TRAVELERS CHEQUES. TAKE PRECAUTIONS AND BRING CREDIT OR DEBIT CARDS TO AVOID CARRYING LARGE AMOUNTS OF CASH.

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Are refunds available if I leave early?

If you leave a program early, overpayments are refunded based on a pro-rating depending on the time you have stayed. Your actual stay is final billed (according to the days of roomand board and hours of classes) based on our monthly discounts if it is over 4 weeks, our weekly discounts if you have stayed over a week, and daily rate if you stay under a week.

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Hotel Services

 

What is the difference between private, shared private and shared hostel rooms?

The private rooms are large, most with beach views and many have private balconies. The shared private rooms are the same rooms, only withdouble or triple occupancy. The shared rooms are smaller and have up to four beds, shared with other students or travelers when more than one requesting this option, and no good beach view from the window.

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What about the food menu? Are vegetarian menus available?

The menu offered to our students is primarily seafood – fish, squid, shrimp, and conch. Other main courses such as chicken or beef are included for variation. All meals areprepared using purified water, and include fresh juices.

Special menus including vegetarian can be arranged on your arrival by indicating to the kitchen staff your preferences.

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What electricity and outlets are used?

Electric connections are the same as in North America - 110 volts with the same 2-3 (w/ground) flat prong connectors. All North American appliances work here without any problem.Small European appliances may require adaptors, depending on the country of origen.

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Is Internet and phone service available?

There is free WIFI at the hotel. Service is likely slow compared to your service at home, but still acceptable for most web browsing and chatting.

There are public phone offices in Canoa, San Vicente and Bahia with cheap rates for local and international calls. Many other phones in public places are Bell South and Portacellular phones, which use cards. Phone cards can usually be purchased anywhere near the phones. If you bring your own cellular phone you have to register it with one of these two companies and pay a35 dollar fee to get connected locally. It is really a bad service and expensive (70 cents a minute).

Phone numbers indicated on the website can be used if you need to be contacted at the Inn.

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Is laundry service available?

Yes, laundry service is available. Rates are $5 per machine load, regardless of the number of pieces.

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Is bottled water available?

We have bulk purified water available (used in all of our food preparation), or smaller bottles of mineral water is for sale if you prefer. We provide an all-you-can-drink usage priceon the bulk water for a $3 fee per week.

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Lessons

 

Can I arrive on any day of the week to begin lessons?

Yes. The package plans are based on 7-day weeks for room and board, and five days a week of study. Study can begin any time.

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Should I bring anything else that I might need for studies?

You may want to bring your own pocket translation dictionary, although pocket English-Spanish versions are available here.

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What is the average quantity, age and nationality of your other students?

We receive around 60 to 80 students a year. Our school program is small, and we usually have six to twelve present during peak months (Dec.-Mar) and two to six at other times.There may be additional guests at the Inn as well, but our 18 rooms really only fill up 4 or five times a year for the major holidays.

Our students ages have ranged from ages 18 to 65, although 70% have been between the ages of 25 and 35.

About 40% of these are North American (U.S: or Canada), and maybe 20% more are from other English speaking countries (U.K.,Australia, New Zealand). The other 40% are fromnon-English speaking European countries – Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Finland and Sweden the most popular.

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Miscellaneous

 

What is the weather like?

Weather in Ecuador is completely different depending on what part you are in especially between the jungle, the mountains, and the coast. Even on the coast, weather is differentbetween say, Guayaquil (an inland port), and nearby beaches. All areas of Ecuador generally follow wet and dry seasons. The wet season in the Andes is colder than in the dry season, while the samewet season on the coast is hotter than the dry season.

The wettest and hottest season for the coastal areas of Ecuador generally falls during January through April. The driest season is May through November. Curiously, on the beachesthe wettest months also have the most sunshine. When it rains, it rains hard, but only for a few hours every few days, and often only at night. This means most of the days are hot and sunny. Nightsare warm, with a nice ocean breeze. On the contrary, well into the dry season (July through October), the sunshine diminishes significantly. Though the climate is pleasant, it is usuallyovercast.

There is not much info on Ecuador weather patterns on the internet, but below is a chart translated from the meteorological division of the Ecuadorian Navel Station on the SantaElena peninsula near Guayaquil, indicating average weather patterns in that area over the last ten years by months.

Weather Chart

Of course, this chart indicates conditions on the beach far to the south from Canoa. Here to the north, there is less influence of the cold Humboldt Current, so water temperaturesare generally warmer. Still, this is just a guide to indicate general patterns. But remember if you plan on visiting all of Ecuador to bring clothes for all occasions. For the closest current weatherforecast for Canoa, use the city of Manta as reference in any Internet weather website. It is on the ocean maybe 80 kms. to the south, and will generally have very similar conditions to Canoa.

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Are there insect problems or related diseases in Canoa?

Mosquitoes and sand flies at the Sundown Inn are really only a problem outside for a couple hours around dawn and dusk during the wet season (December thru April). The rest of theyear the insect population disappears and is no problem. A good repellent or long pants at these peak times also eliminates the problem. No insect problem in the Inn rooms at night. We have neverneeded or been asked for mosquito nets in our rooms.

In downtown Canoa some of the more rustic bamboo or wooden construction hostels restaurants and bars have much more mosquitoes that we do because of the nearby river there, lessocean breeze and cheaper construction. So if you walk downtown in the evening for a stop at a rustic bar or whatever during the humid season, bring repellant.

Malaria (here they call it palaudismo) around Canoa is very rare, but there are sometimes 2 or 3 cases a year during the hot humid season. These cases are mostly confined to remotefarm areas, or areas near stagnant fresh water. We have never heard of a visitor/tourist in Canoa coming down with malaria.

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What about surfing, surf lessons, and board rentals?

Canoa is a popular surf destination, especially for beginners. With perfect beach breaks, sand bottom, and no undertow, the ocean is very forgiving to novices and still fun formore advanced surfers. The best time of the year for surfing is December through April. There are a few locals in Canoa who have done quality time on the Ecuador surf circuit, and give lessons for $12 to $15 per hour with board included. Board rentals alone vary from place to place, so check around. Many students have brought their own boards in the past with minimal transportation problems.

Canoa is very central to visiting many of the more advanced wave sites, such as Manta (1 1/2 hours to the south) or Mompiche (3 hours north). Mompiche is reputed to have the bestworld class waves in Ecuador, but is newly "discovered" and limited in services. Buses move up and down the coast at least every half hour, so trips are easy.

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