The understanding of the different conditions that shape the recreational use of sandy beaches is key for their management. This article explores visitors’ and residents’ recreational use of four sandy beaches in Ecuador in relation to the physical and socioeconomic context in which this use takes place, including beach morphodynamics, level of urban development, as well as the type and quality of tourism services available. Results show that visitors and residents use the beach for the same recreational activities (i.e., walking and swimming) on beaches with different morphologies and socioeconomic conditions. However, respondents also indicated that physical characteristics (e.g., beach size and swell) are important aspects for choosing a beach. Visitors to rural beaches are more likely to consume informal catering services located within the beach area than formal ones located outside. This particular emerging theme should be taken into consideration for further research on management initiatives in the context of developing countries.