Puerto Lopez beach when empty

Alcohol Free Ecuador Elections

“The biggest danger for a politician is to shake hands with a man who is physically stronger, has been drinking, and is voting for the other guy.” 
— William Proxmire

Do you celebrate election night victories with a cocktail? Or drown your election losses with a few beers once the polls close? These are illegal activities during Ecuador election weekends. There is little chance of the quote above happening during election weekend.

You can, however, have the beach almost all to yourself.

Empty Puerto Lopez beach ready for visitors
Puerto Lopez beach

Voting in Ecuador is compulsory for citizens between 18 and 65 years old. If you do not vote, you must pay a fine prior to registering a vehicle, opening a bank account, buying or selling property, and a whole host of other activities.

Alcohol is prohibited in the days surrounding election day. If you arrive at the polls in Ecuador drunk, you face a $193 fine, 1/2 the monthly minimum wage.

Sunday, February 4, 2018 was a national election day. Alcohol sales were prohibited from Noon Friday until Noon Monday. It is not only illegal to purchase alcohol, it is also illegal to consume alcohol during this time.

I was at the Quito airport during the 2018 election prohibition and even the restaurants there were unable to sell alcohol to travelers.

Alcohol prohibition sign at Quito Airport
Sign at Johnny Rockets, Quito Airport
February 2, 2018


Quiet beach weekend

January – April weekends in Ecuador beach towns are almost always busy. It is the best weather of the year. People who work inland come to the ocean for weekend getaways. Election weekend is different. Everyone stays home since they have to be at their local voting booth on Sunday so election weekend is very quiet.


If you visit Ecuador during an election weekend and wish to imbibe, my advice to you is to do one of the following:

  1. Purchase ahead and do not invite the police to your party.
  2. Head to a beach town known for tourism. Look for a hotel bar serving foreigners. There are special licenses that some establishments purchase so they can sell alcohol to tourists.
  3. Look for a small, neighborhood store. I have heard some of them sell alcohol during election prohibition, although I do not recommend doing this since it seems it is actually not legal.


Or you can choose to enjoy an alcohol free fruity drink on the empty beach during Ecuador elections.

Alcohol free fruity drink, Puerto Lopez, Ecuador


I am a US Expat in Ecuador. I grew up on a Minnesota farm, worked in IT in California's Silicon Valley, then moved to a coastal Ecuador fishing village. My goal is to share Ecuador with you, one snippet at a time. Topics include attractions, compassion, ecotourism, Ecuador products, everyday Ecuador, and flora and fauna. Please let me know what you would like to read more about!


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