My first experience at the Ecuadorian coast
As I was born at the coast, I am completely addicted to the ocean. Therefore, when I arrived to Ecuador it was clear for me to visit the Ecuadorian coast as soon as possible. Actually, we wanted to go to Olón but in the end we decided to travel to Puerto Lopez as there are more activities offered nearby. We found out that the last bus (which goes directly to Puerto Lopez) leaves at 7:00 pm, we arrived last minute to Quitumbe (bus station in the south of Quito), but had luck to get the tickets, which cost $14 one way, per person. Luckily, the bus was not too crowded, so despite of little seating space we had a seating row for ourselves. We headed towards to the coast via the serpentines of the Andes. After approx. 1,5 hours the bus stopped and as we did not get any information why. We got off the bus and found out that it was broken. (I have to say that from the beginning on the bus was not in the best shape) They tried to fix the bus, but after a while they gave up and called the headquarters in Quito to order another bus. Two hours later the substitute arrived and we could continue our journey to the coast.
We arrived at about 7:00 am. The bus station of Puerto Lopez is about 3 km outside of the town in the middle of nowhere, so actually we were not sure if we arrived at the right place. The first thing I noticed when I got off the bus was the humid and warm climate, which was quite pleasant. To get to the town of Puerto Lopez you have to hire the famous mototaxi. During the ride the welcoming breeze of the ocean is quite a fun feeling. I do not remember well but I think it cost about $1,50. In Puerto Lopez city, you can find a lot of beach bars, offering snacks, cocktails or breakfast, after the long bus ride it felt like paradise having breakfast at the beach with an ocean view included. In the town are working lot representatives who are selling excursions and act as an agent for accommodations. As we were kind of dizzy, (I guess because of the change of altitude) we accepted the invitation to let someone shown us a hostel. A double room cost $10 per night and a single room $15 per night with private bathroom. The room was not in best condition but there was a lovely courtyard (patio) with a lot of plants, hammocks and a very clean kitchen. We spent the arriving day discovering the town und walking at the beach. At night, I had one of the best dishes in my life: the owner of a simple restaurant made a barbeque; he showed us the fresh products so we decided to order a tuna steak, which came along with vegetable from the grill. I have to admit that just for this delicious dish, I would return to Puerto Lopez.
The next day we decided to go on a whale watching tour. Humpback Whales can be observed in this area from June to September. As the boat goes very fast, I have to confess I got a little bit seasick but luckily a fellow traveler had medicine with him, which helped me a lot. After about 1,5 hours boat ride we saw the first whales and we stopped to observe them. It was a family of three whales and it was very impressive to watch and hear them. On the way back to the port, we had the chance to go snorkeling near a protected bay.
On the last day we visited the famous Playa Los Frailes in the Machalilla National Parka. It is a very long and picturesque beach. You can walk up to a viewpoint and also march to another beach section. Later we visited the private community Aguas Blancas within Machalilla National Park. It hosts one of the most ancient civilizations in South America, the Monteño, along with trails and a sulfur lagoon. With a native guide from the community, we went through a nature trail with a couple of river crossings. At the end of this trail is the sulfur lagoon, where you can take a bath after you put on a mud mask. In the afternoon we returned to Puerto Lopez, picked up our stuff and went back (of course with the mototaxi) to the bus station. Luckily, we bought the return ticket earlier this day, because the bus was overbooked, so there were passengers without a seat. At about 04:00 am, Monday morning we arrived in Quito again. Although the bus rides were not that comfortable, I can recommend everyone to go to the coast, even just for a few days!
If you prefer an organized tour to the coast check out our Ruta del Sol tour.