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Located on the Pacific coast, Manta is one of Ecuador’s most important ports. The mainstay of the economy of this city with some 200,000 residents is tuna—both fishing and the processing and canning of the catch. In other words, unless you have a keen interest in the tuna industry, Manta will, most likely, simply be a stopping point to other destinations in the country like Quito, the Galápagos and the haciendas in the foothills of the Andes. Even so, Manta is a pleasant port town with some contemporary buildings and a few historic sights, interesting museums and natural beauty in the form of parks and nearby beaches.
Neither the Galápagos nor the country’s capital, Quito, can be visited as a day trip from Manta. If you have extra time before or after you reach Manta, however, it's a short flight to both. Still not enough time? Isla Corazón, to the north, and Machalilla National Park, to the south, provide introductions to the flora and fauna of equatorial rain forests. If even those destinations are too far, the city’s archaeological museum is highly recommended, and a walk along the Malecón pairs ocean views with cooling breezes.