There's more places to eat.
A larger variety of places to stay at a much lower average cost.
It's easier to meet more people.
And you have access to services that you wouldn't have in more remote locations, like laundry, internet, organized activities, etc.
For me, Atacames arguably has the nicest beach of all the locations mentioned above.
It certainly has one of the widest beaches of the country, and one of the few white sand beaches lined with coconut palms in Ecuador.
Beaches with good surf are nearby.
And beaches that are coves with flat water great for swimming are just a short Tuk Tuk ride away (in neighboring Sua).
Accommodations. Cheap and plentiful with budget places starting around $10 per person and the nicer places around $20 per person.
Food. You bet. Each region of the Ecuadorian coast has their own unique blend of seafood gastronomy. But the north coast has the best cuisine out there! Try the seafood in coconut curry (encocados) or the seafood in nut based curry (cazuela) and you won't be dissappointed!
Safety. This has been the knock on Atacames as most folks think its too close to Colombia for comfort, but actually its still several hours from the border (like a place called Quito), and with the added police force I believe safety has improved greatly over recent years.
The locals. Different from the rest of the Ecuador coast, the locals are mulatos by ancestry. And by far the friendliest and best looking people on the Ecuador coast.
Real Estate. Cheap! The best deal I see this week in the area is a finished and FURNISHED 20 room, 20 bathroom hotel one block from the beach right in the center of town built just 8 years ago complete with reception, oceanview terrace, and cistern asking $170,000 negotiable.
But the owner sounded like he'd go down even lower, I'd try for around $150,000. Its possible, and it would be a steal. The owners direct contact is 0986278022 email caugust_49 AT hotmail.com . I have no affiliation with the property, just saw it mentioned this week. If you end up buying it due to this tip you'll have to buy me a beer sometime.
Safe to say I see major potential in the area.
Quito Airport Suites