Between Montañita and Puerto López: the southern coast of Ecuador

Diego Arias at the Galapagos Islands


The two small towns of Puerto López and Montañita are about 45 kilometers from one another on the southern coast of Ecuador. The vegetation in this region is similar to that of the Galapagos Islands. On long sandy beaches you can observe crabs, pelicans, frigate birds and with some luck also turtles. In the summer months from June to September you can even see whales here!

Sea Star in the sand in Puerto López Ecuador

How can you best get to this part of the coast? What is the most beautiful beach? And what do you definitely have to visit here?

How to get to Montañita or Puerto López

From Quito, you should be prepared for an approximately nine hour drive to Puerto López or Montañita. Therefore, a night trip is a recommendable option. There are different routes: via Santo Domingo, Manta and Guayaquíl. From Guayaquíl the trip to Montañita or Puerto López takes about one or two hours.

What is the most beautiful beach near Puerto López and Montañita?

Scarcely touristy and with little infrastructure, but beautiful, natural and deserted: The beach near Puerto Rico and Las Tunas invites you to take long walks on the beach, to swim or relax in one of the hammocks. Here you can watch the local fishermen at work, observe pelicans flying past or eat in one of the two small beach restaurants.

Beach near Puerto López Ecuador

Because of the peace and quiet on this beach we even had the luck to watch little baby turtles on their way from the beach to the sea!

baby turtle on the beach of Puerto López Ecuador

The sunsets over the sea are particularly beautiful to watch here!

Puerto López Ecuador

The colourful life of Montañita

Montañita is the party paradise of Ecuador! The long sandy beach and the city centre are accordingly full, colourful, loud and lively. The street vendors and restaurant and bar owners attract numerous international tourists by shouting loudly. And this although the city has already called for consideration in this regard.

rock with montañita painting

Also for less party-enthusiasts, the visit of Montañita is recommendable at least for one afternoon in order to experience the lively activity.

The promenade of Puerto López

For those who want to escape the party scene of Montañita, but still like it lively, a visit to the beach in the small town of Puerto López is recommended. Because here, numerous relaxed beach bars line up right at the beach. Directly behind it, the beach promenade of Puerto López offers shopping facilities and restaurants with international and local Ecuadorian cuisine. A few of them have a small, airy roof terrace which is somewhat separated from the promenade.

On the main street of Puerto López there are other Ecuador typical shops, a small market and some restaurants and snack bars. There are camionetas as well as small, so-called mototaxis, with which you can cover short distances at low cost.

A visit to the indigenous community of Agua Blanca

From Puerto López towards the east in the interior of the country is the indigenous commune of Agua Blanca. Here indigenous people live in their community and continue to practice their traditions and live their culture. After paying an entrance fee of 5 USD you will get access to a small museum where indigenous, ancient artwork is exhibited and explained. You can also visit a small white church there.

An approximately ten-minute walk takes you past the museum in Agua Blanca to a viewpoint (Mirador). From here, you have a fantastic view to the forest and the mountains behind it.

Agua Blanca Puerto López Ecuador

However, the nature through which the walk passes is completely bare and arid in the dry season. From January onwards, the forest turns green again and the empty riverbed fills up again.

After a further five minutes’ walk you finally reach a sulphurous lagoon. Here you can take a bath and get a mud mask or mud massage before. Both should be very healthy for the skin. A small café offers snacks and refreshments right next to it.

“Find out more on the Website of Agua Blanca

The beach of Los Frailes

One part of the national park is the beach of Los Frailes. Its nature and wildlife is often compared to that of the Galapagos Islands.
The long sandy beach is limited to the left by high cliffs, under which bathers find shade. To the right, however, a short path leads up to a viewpoint, which is located on a small hill next to the beach.

Los Frailes Puerto López Ecuador

If you follow the rustling in the bushes next to the path, you can observe numerous small and medium-sized lizards. Once you reach the top of the lookout point, you will have wonderful views of the sandy beach on the right.

Los Frailes view on beach

On the other side of the mountain there is a rather rocky beach section. This can also be easily reached on foot. The viewpoint is also ideal for observing the numerous colourful birds that fly past, such as pelicans and frigate birds.

A visit of Los Frailes is worthwhile above all in the morning. Because then the beach is not yet crowded by the numerous visitors and one can still easily escape the afternoon heat.

You will find various possibilities to travel the coast and get to know its diversity during our trips along the Pacific coast of Ecuador. For more information about the Pacific coast we recommend you to read our blogposts “Puerto Lopez – a paradise on the pacific coast” and “My first experience on the Pacific coast“.

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