Puerto López

This pleasant little fishing town is set beautifully on a turquoise horseshoe bay, with a broad sweep of beach enclosed by headlands to the north and south. The beach is cleanest at the far north and south ends, away from the fleet of small fishing boats moored offshore. A lookout above the south end of the bay along the main road offers great views.

Around Puerto López

Tourism is second only to fishing in Puerto López, with a wide array of hotels, restaurants and tour operators catering to the many foreign and Ecuadorean visitors who flock here every year during the
temporada de ballenas
(whale season), approximately mid-June to September.
Whale watching
is reasonably well organized here, but things can get a bit out of hand during the height of the season in July and August, when prices rise and touts await tourists arriving in town. During these peak months, fishermen may offer whale-watching trips for less than authorized tour operators. Such improvised excursions are seldom recommended, your safety may be compromised and the whales can be threatened by boatmen who have not been trained how to best approach them. You may wish to reserve accommodation and tours in advance during high season. Whales can also be seen from other points along the coast but, since these receive fewer tourists, a tour may not always be available just when you want it. If short on time, Puerto López is still your best bet.

A year-round attraction is Parque Nacional Machalilla, which incorporates mainland sites and Isla de la Plata offshore , an island with bird colonies and good snorkelling. Excursions here are combined with whale watching in season. This has been called a 'cheap alternative to Galápagos', which is overstating the case; excursions to Isla de la Plata are definitely worthwhile, but your expectations should be reasonable.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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