Laid back and lacking pretense, Puerto Lopez is the consummate sleepy beach town that doesn’t appear to be in much of a hurry to wake from that slumber. Dusty and a little rough around the edges, you may not find romanticized scenes of ‘paradise’, but you will find a nice city beach, plenty of attractive views, genuine smiles, lots of budget lodging and dining options and best of all, a destination that should match whatever your definition of ‘authentic’ happens to be.
I planned to spend a couple nights and wound up spending nearly a week.
A pleasant fishing village of about 16,000, it’s the nearest hub for visits to Machalilla National Park, home to the beautiful Los Frailes beach, and to Isla de la Plata, aka the Poor Man’s Galapagos and its large resident population of Blue-Footed and Nazca Boobies, making a stop in Puerto Lopez almost obligatory. It’s also a popular destination for whale watching between June and September when the annual humpback mating attracts a sizable number of the acrobatic mammals.
In town, the most interesting attraction is the morning fish market that draws nearly as many pelicans and magnificent frigatebirds as it does local buyers and brokers eager to head home with the best of the morning’s catch. The commerce begins at about 7; try not to come too late.
Getting there? There is regular bus service from Guayaquil, about a four hour journey to the south, and Manta and Portoviejo to the north. There are also daily buses to Quito, an 11 hour trip.
Getting around? You can and should walk just about everywhere within the city limits. Taxi motos are widely available; round trip to the Machalilla park entrance, about 10km north of town, should run about $12 (as of summer 2014).
A place to stay? You could certainly do worse than the the hilltop Maremonti Bed & Breakfast, winner of my Best Road Office of 2013 award.
Thirty-two images from Puerto Lopez are below, like all my galleries, offering a fair representation of what the town actually looks like. Click on any to view it larger or to watch as a slideshow.
Want to win a FREE 8x10ish print of your choice?