Puerto López lies at the Pacific Coast of Ecuador. A fishing village, it is now also becoming a tourism hotspot and is most famous for being the departure point for visits to Isla de la Plata.
Once a haven for budget travellers going to Isla de la Plata, the town has become much more developed with a beach promenade, a pier for tours to the nearby islands, and lots of restaurants and hotels.
Puerto López has a new bus terminal about a mile north of town on the coastal highway. Tuc-tucs (mototaxis) charge $1 to take you to town. Information on bus schedules can be found at AndesTransit.
- From Santa Elena buses leave many times a day, passing by Montañita.
- From Montañita there are frequent buses ($2.50, 1 hr). Some of the buses don't have storage underneath, be prepared to put your pack in the front of the bus or on your lap.
- To Guayaquil buses go via Jipijapa at 07:00, 09:00, 13:00, 16:00 ($4, 4 hr).
- From Portoviejo two companies goes to Puerto Lopez, with a stop at Jipijapa and continue to Montanita ($3, 2 hr).
- From Quito Reina del Camino and Carlos Aray provide direct service from the Quitumbe Terminal ($13).
Everything but the bus terminal is in a walking distance. Taximotos should not cost more than $1 to get around town.
- Each morning (the time depends of the time of the year) the day's fishing catch is brought in the beach near the pier. A mad rush ensues with best catches being bought and carted away quite quickly. You can see sharks, swordfish, wahoo (from the tuna family), and more. Apart from fish, you will see at least frigate birds and pelicans trying to get their share of the catch.
- 1 Isla de la Plata (Poor Man's Galapagos). Several tour agents organise trips (1½-hour boat ride, lunch included). On the island you will be able to see plenty of blue and red footed boobies, frigate birds, colorful fishes, sea turtles, and if you're lucky, sea lions. The tour is combined with snorkeling and whale watching trips, if it's the right season. The humpbackwhale season is from June to September. Diving is also possible. You'll pay $1 extra for the use of the pier. The trips to the island are heavily regulated by the local authorities so it does not seem to be possible to hire a local fisherman to take you to the island. $30-45.
- Isla de Salango (Poor Man's Isla de la Plata). Several tour agents organise trips (30-min boat ride). You will be able to see boobies on the way to the island. The boats drop you off at a beach on the island where you will be able to see frigate birds, and if you're lucky, sea lions. The tour is combined with snorkeling trips which are nice but not too spectacular. You'll pay $1 extra for the use of the pier. You can also go to Salango from the town Salango a $0.50 bus ride south, the prices there are however very similar. $10-15.
- Machalilla Park. The national park has several entrances and "themes". One of them is the Frailes which is free, there is a nice path that goes through miradors and beaches and end in the Frailes beach where you can swim and snorkel. Another is the Agua Blanca ($5pp) where you'll have a guided visit of the (small) archeological museum, a visit of the lands and finally a bath in sulfur water. You can go to either by taking any bus going north for 50¢. free for Frailes, $5 for Agua Blanca.
- Horseback riding. You can join a horse (or mule) tour in the nature park. Most of the agencies in town should offer these tours when asked. $40 for a full day.
Cheap cuisine can be purchased from food carts a few blocks east of the shore -- 50¢ empanadas, for example. The shoreline is lined with restaurants which mostly serve seafood and range in price from $3.50-10. There are also three Italian restaurants in town. Finally, you can buy ceviche and sometimes sandwiches from the cabañas on the shore.
- Pizza, Corner Montalvo / Cordova. Very good pizza stand, one block from the Sol Inn. $1/slice.
- Restaurant Russo, corner of main street near the Malecon (cross the road from Etnias Cafe and you'll see the sign of Russo). 09:00-00:00. Real Russian and European cuisine. Decent small European-style restaurant with real steak blood, Russian pelmeny and wareniky. Works till 00:00 which is extremely rare here. Run by a very friendly Ukrainian couple who speak Spanish and Russian. $2.50-8.
You can sit outside at one of the restaurants and drink, or you can go to one of the cabañas, which blast salsa music and reggae throughout the evenings. Fruity drinks cost between $3 and $5, while the local beer of choice, Pilsener, goes for $1.50 for 600 ml.
- 1 Hosteria Mandála (north end of the paved Malecón, about 600 m past the bridge and 100 m past the whale skeleton), ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Hostel with a big garden and about 20 very large cabins for rooms. Some rooms have kitchens. All rooms have fans, mosquito nets, and private baths with hot water. Wi-Fi is available throughout. The owners are an Italian-Swiss couple who are very ecologically motivated and decline to use air conditioning, TV or swimming pool. The hostel also has hammocks by the beach, plenty of board games and an extensive book exchange. Animal friendly establishment; dogs are present and welcome. Gated, covered parking. English, Spanish, French, Italian and German spoken. From $40 single and $55 double.
- 2 Victor Hugo Hotel, Malecón y 24 de Mayo (north part of malecón, about 250 m north of bridge), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Twenty-five spacious air conditioned rooms with private baths and hot water. Wifi throughout. Restaurant and bar. Gated parking. Courtyard view/Sea view: single=$33/$56, double=$56/$75 ( update Jan 2020 ).
- 3 Hotel Nantu (north end of town on the Malecón, 100 m north of the bridge), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A/C, en-suite bathroom with hot water. Wifi throughout. Swimming pool, Jacuzzi, pool table & parking. Sidewalk bar and limited-menu restaurant (breakfast=$3-6; pizza=$8-12; large salads= $6) s/d= $30/$40 includes IVA but not breakfast ( update Jan 2020 ).
- 4 Playa Sur (north part of town on the malecón, 100 m past the bridge.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-out: 12:00. Very clean well maintained bamboo cabanas with wifi, mosquito net, fan, and bathroom with hot water. Gated parking in rear. $30 (taxes included) single or double.
- 5 [dead link] Hosteria Itapoa (north end of the Malecón, 100 m before the bridge), ☏ , ✉ Itapoa_25@hotmail.com. Check-in: 12:00 (flexible), check-out: 11:00. Tropical garden atmosphere across the Malecón from the beach. Wifi throughout. English, Spanish and Portuguese spoken. Restaurant in a raised cabana overlooking the ocean. Bicycle and surf board rentals. Gated parking. Hostel helps support Itapoa (rainforest) Reserve near Puerto Quito; ask about educational 2-6 day tours. All prices are per person. Range of options: no-frills/no-breakfast dorm beds ($10); private room with bath, fan, mosquito net and breakfast ($15-17); private room with bath, a/c and breakfast ($20). Taxes included..
- 6 Hostal Machalilla, Juan Montalvo y Alejo Lascano (One block from the Malecón on Alejandro Lascano street (two streets north of General Córdova street).), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: flexible, check-out: 12:00. Seventeen nice bright rooms with private bathrooms, hot water, high ceilings, ceiling fans, mosquito nets and TVs. Wifi available throughout. Kitchen available to guests. Also has a nice central courtyard with hammocks and a patio up top with several tables with sun umbrellas. Limited gated parking. $12 per person taxes included.
- 7 Hostal Albatros, Corner Montalvo / Lascano (one block from the Malecón on Alejandro Lascano street (two streets north of General Córdova street); across the street from Hostel Machalilla), ☏ . Family hotel/hostel. Wifi throughout. $16 for single or double with fan and private bathroom (cold water).
- 8 Sol Inn, Juan Montalval near Elroy Alfaro (one block from malecón, a half-block north of Eloy Alfara street (first street north of General Córdova street)), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: flexible, check-out: 11:00. Offers eleven nicely decorated rooms in bamboo structures with private baths and hot water. It has outdoor kitchen in common area. Wifi in common area but may not reach most rooms. Gorgeous gardens and hammocks make for a great atmosphere. Limited gated parking. Taxes included. Dorm bed=$8; Private room with bath, fan and mosquito nets=$20 single or double; Private room with bath, TV and air conditioning: s/d= $25/$30.
- 9 Hotel Ancora, Eloy Alfora y Juan Montalvo (Town center, 70 m from the Malecón on Eloy Alfara street. Across from Hostel Fragata.), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Sixteen air conditioned rooms with cable TV, private bath and hot water. Some rooms with balcony (ask). Wifi throughout. Swimming pool in a garden patio. Yoga room and hot tub. Gated parking. Restaurant with Spanish/Mediterranean specialty and bar. Low season/high season: single=$28/38; double=$56/$66 plus taxes; breakfast included..
- 10 Hostel Villa Colombia (One block east of the Catholic Church and eighty yards south of General Córdova street on Av. Garcia Moreno.), ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. Fifteen rooms with fans, private baths and hot water, including some rooms for up to five persons. Wifi throughout. Three blocks from the beach. Garden area with hammocks. Common kitchen area. Gated parking. Four complete apartments are scheduled to open in February 2020. Family also owns and operates Aventuras La Plata tour company. $15 per person tax included, with breakfast.
- Puerto López is the closest village to Parque Nacional Machalilla. The park headquarters is one block behind the plaza in Puerto López and also features a small museum. The entrance is free of charge.
- The serene Playa Los Frailes is 10 km north of Puerto Lopez inside Machalilla National Park. You can take the northbound bus (50 cents one way) and drop off in the entrance and walk 3 km to the park (there is a few viewpoints in the path, and you'll see two solitary beaches of the park) o you can take a mototaxi from the entrance to Los Frailes for $1 per person. Another options is taking a mototaxi from Puerto Lopez for around $6 round-trip. The entrance is free.
- Agua Blanca is a small village and archaeological site of the Manteño people. It's named after a pre-incan sulphur-water pool in the village.
- Salango Museum Pre-Columbian Archaeological Museum Salango Commune has an extraordinary collection of original and authentic pottery, shell spondyllus, reflecting the worldview, social structure, and the pottery of the prehistoric people of Ecuador.