A modern, progressive, and vibrant city, Guayaquil, the “Pearl of the Pacific”, has worked hard to improve its tourist infrastructure, becoming one of Ecuador’s top tour destinations, as well as one of the top destinations in South America.
The city is full of incredible art, museums, cuisine - both modern and traditional - history, and carefully maintained green spaces which allow for the diverse native birds and other wildlife to live within the city.
This is the largest city in Ecuador, situated in the country’s south west. It is the heartbeat of Ecuador - an essential port city known as the Gateway to the Pacific. Guayaquil has been instrumental in Ecuador’s development and growth. Don’t pass up a chance to visit this exciting and historic city!
A Chocolate Legacy
One thing, visitors will be interested to learn while exploring G, is the city’s extensive history with chocolate, also called “cacao”. Guayaquil earned the nickname “Chocolate City” over a period of 150 years after it became the world’s first port for exporting cacao.
Since the 1800s, Ecuador has been exporting this fine product, which over the years has garnered a much deserved reputation for being of the most excellent quality. This has led to a specific class designation known as “Arriba Cocoa”. This label indicates the chocolate is officially from a specific bean grown in a micro region in Ecuador, which in turn is an indicator of its quality and taste.
Much like wine, true chocolate’s character has almost every to do with where it’s grown. This fact, first and foremost dictates how it is made. As the harvesting and production process continues, other decisions are made that influence taste, but it starts with the soil.
Guayaquil’s positioning as a port city made it a powerful and important center of commerce for numerous products, but chocolate has been one of the most important since the early 19th century.
Spain’s conquistadors held coveted knowledge of the product and its qualities for nearly two centuries before the rest of the world finally tasted it as well. For over one hundred years, until the Stock Market Crash in 1929, after which the industry had great difficulty finding its feet again.
Today, the industry is once again thriving, but had been missing a key component until very recently: tourism. For some reason, chocolate tours had not been a focus for Ecuador tourism, and it’s just beginning to build this infrastructure. Many of these tours are led from Guayaquil, the original chocolate city, where you can also taste Ecuador’s many chocolate varieties.
Top things to do in Guayaquil
Guayaquil is not only historic, it’s also beautiful, walkable and fun! Allow a few days here to absorb all it has to offer, both within the city and in the surrounding area.
1. Archaeology Museum (Municipal Museum) - At the center of the city, the Municipal Museum in Guayaquil is one of the most comprehensive archaeological museums in South America. With the more famous Inca legacy of Peru, it can be easy to forget that modern day Ecuador was also an important and essential Inca stronghold.
2. Historical Park - This unique attraction was built in 1997, in effort to convey a historically accurate portrait of old Guayaquil. One of the best parts of this park is the wildlife area, which is home to hundreds of indigenous species, many of which are endangered. Here they are protected, and visitors can observe them up close as they walk through the beautiful space.
3. Waterfront - The Guayaquil waterfront is the perfect place to relax and meander - taking a break from active sightseeing. You may also see the Waterfront called Malecon 2000, which is the official name of the urban renewal project that led to the spectacular boardwalk along the Guayas River.