Renowned for its rich variety of set ups, including a smattering of world class points, the small south American nation of Ecuador remains far further beneath the radar than its appeal would suggest.
It’s one of the cheapest places to visit in South America, the water and weather is mild year round, the locals are friendly and it boasts the incredible Galapagos islands just a short boat ride from its west coast. The scenery is diverse, with snow capped mountains, amazon rainforest and long beautiful deserted beaches, all crammed into one of the smallest countries on the continent.
We recently caught up with local bodyboarder and photographer Francisco Herrera to find out more:
Hi Francisco, tell me a little about your background and how you got into taking photos?
I’ve been a bodyboarder for more than 25 years and I’ve always wanted to do more in relation to the sea, so I found photography as a way to complement my passion for the waves. I have taken photos for about 12 years, my style is to focus on surfing landscapes, lineups and perfect waves. I really like to capture the whole environment of the points and the beaches, including everything in the composition. I also take pictures of action and in the water, but I enjoy shooting the whole landscape more.
What are the waves like in Ecuador?
The waves in Ecuador are excellent, not too crowded and with great potential, good weather and, considering it’s such a small country, great variety very close together. The best season is from December to April, with the wintery, rainy conditions creating the glassiest waves. We get swells from both the north and south. We also have the Galapagos Islands with a variety of waves and many secret spots; a paradise on earth.
What is the surfing community like there?
The surf community in Ecuador is growing, it is a sport in development and very related to the environment and beach care. We Ecuadorians are very hospitable and that is why surfing is handled in a positive way with visitors, although as everywhere there are very busy points where locals set the rules, but there is a lot of variety of waves to explore.
What’s your favorite thing about shooting there?
My favorite places are El Murciélago beach in Manta, which is a perfect bodyboard wedge with the perfect composition for photos. Also the south of Manta is San Lorenzo and San José, two perfect and often lonely beaches where you can take incredible photos.
What has been your most memorable moment or session?
There are many moments, with many of my best sessions ever happening in Indonesia, but also in Galapagos and south of Manta, in San Jose, I have had perfect sessions of flawless waves and many tubes.
Here’s a selection of Francisco’s favourite images captured around his native coastline, click to enlarge:
Check out more of Francisco’s work on his instagram here.