Puerto Lopez is a little working fishing town, a little rough around the edges but a great base for day trips. Easily accessible are whale watching tours and some of the most beautiful beaches in Ecuador. It also offers a great insight into some local Ecuadorean life styles while you watch this busy village in day to day life…
Unfortunately early in the year the coastline was effected by a large earthquake, while some were hit a lot worse than others and many areas are said to be to dangerous. It doesn’t seem to have effected anything here, but the repercussions of it are felt with the huge drop in tourism.
Geographically it’s a long way from the traditional routes and the popular destinations so we were hesitant about going, but finally decided to take our chances and hopped onto a 10 hour bus journey. We’re so glad we did, so happy to be back on coast and see what Ecuadors famous rich waters has to offer.
This little fishing village wakes up with the sun, the local fisherman get on their boats and disappear in the misty waters of Pacific Ocean. A few hours later they are back, awaited by groups of buyers and sellers, hoping for the best catch. The local beach is a hive of activity, the make shift restaurants on the beach prepare their kitchens for the fresh fish, while the beach is crowded with people, dogs, sea turtles and birds, everyone waiting to get a share. As each little boat runs into the beach it’s swarmed by hands unloading the catch, and the negotiations start. This is where they are gutted and then sold to the locals, restaurants and the larger companies shipping them around the world.
Here for 3 dollars we were able to try a local fish stew and fried tuna for breakfast and drink coffee with local fisherman. This seems to be the place to be, to socialise, to grab your breakfast and then disappear into your day’s activities. The whole scene is crazy, it feels almost like a TV show, where everyone is excited to see what was caught, how cheap can they get something and how quickly it will sell. We got to see tuna, massive 120kg merlins, 200kg sharks, crabs, octopus, shrimp and lots of other things brought from the sea. It was such an exciting activity that we can’t wait to go and watch it again.
The people are so friendly here, they are proud and encourage you to take pictures, talk and watch. We found Ecuador to be one of our favourite countries so far and almost free of alcohol abuse in comparison to other countries we visited on our way. Especially the little towns, they seem to feel very safe.
On one of our first days here we ended up going to the near by Machalilla National Park in the hope to spend the day at the coast. We were able to see the most amazing views on a 2,5 km walk through the dry landscapes filled with cactus trees. The walk composed of 2 stops at beautiful wild beaches and an incredible view point form which we could see the bay and cliffs. We finished the day swimming, soaking in the sun and following crabs around the beach. Ecuador has some beautifully untouched, sunny beaches, that will be hard to leave.
We missed being on the beach and listening to the sea so much, it was our best day in a long time. Since Los Frailes beach is in the middle of a national park it’s impressively clean and well maintained, they even regulate what can be taken on with you. It’s got us thinking, what country can we be based in where we live in a city and on the coast…
Isla de la plata
Our incredible beach day was followed by an even better one. It started as a typical misty, gray, rainy morning for this time of year. Fearing the worst We went to our tour company (Aventuras la Plata) and asked them if we could change the date of our whale watching trip to Isla de La Plata. They assured us that the weather is not an issue, we would will still be able to see everything and it was true! 20 minutes into a tour and we were watching the most amazing pod of three humpback whales jumping, rolling and splashing their thins. They continued giving us the most incredible show for a good 30 minuets. We could not believe how big these monsters are, how much noise they make while crashing back onto the water. It was incredible!
About an hour out to sea from Puerto Lopez lays the poor mans Galapagos – Isla de La Plata. This is where we went to explore trails and see the Blue Footed Boobies (polskie głuptaki) for the first time. They are such a funny birds, photos don’t justify how stupid they look. They lay their eggs in the middle of the paths and are then surprised that people end up walking past them, as they whistle at you. The island itself is nothing special, really dry and without much wildlife except the birds. It offers some beautiful cliff views though. The real adventure starts as soon as you get back on your boat, that’s when we were able to see multiple sea turtles surfacing around the boat waiting for a share of a watermelon. We were even able to see a manta ray swimming past. From here we snorkelled a deep reef which was pretty challenging with the currents, but were able to spot a larger number of odd looking sea life.
To top this already amazing day our captain spotted a pod of dolphins out to sea, we headed out to get a closer look.. Unbelievably as we got closer we noticed there aren’t just a few dolphins, but hundreds of them jumping out the water, playing, diving and racing with us. It was incredible, they were literally everywhere. You didn’t know where to look, or where to point your camera. I don’t think anyone had ever experienced such a thing, one of those once in a life time events.
Our finally day at the coast was spent at a locally community, where we were able to see how the self deficient villages lived, and there history which date back thousands of years. Here we were also able to go mudding, followed by jumping into a sulphuric lagoon, a very entertaining afternoon.