Part 8- Puerto Lopez
Puerto Lopez is a fishing village on the northern cost of Ecuador. It’s a popular vacation spot for Ecuadorians which also attracts budget minded international travelers and we loved it!
The town has a reasonable beach and a fabulous fish market but it is probably best known for whale watching and the Isla de la Plata. In season Humpback whale sightings are pretty much guaranteed we were not there in season but we had put Puerto Lopez on our list because we wanted to go to Isla de la Plata, also referred to as the poor man’s Galapagos. We did consider going to the Galapagos islands for about 10 minutes. Going there for three or four days would have cost us as much as the entire trip did including airfare from Ottawa. Having said that if you want to go you can easily book a trip from Quito a day or two in advance. There were several operators in the Plaza Fosh offering last minute rates on tours.
The fish market starts early each morning as the boats return from the sea. It’s the center of activity for the whole town for the first few hours of the day.
We stayed at Hosteria Itapoa in cabin number 16. It was basic but it had a great little deck with a hammock and a hammock chair.
There was a garden area which was full of birds. There were also several cats all of which were friendly but only one of them actually belonged to the owner. Breakfast was served in an open air hut with a great view of the ocean which was right across the street.
We booked it in advance via booking.com. I am glad we did because there were backpackers showing up every night looking for rooms and getting turned away. Some of them ended up sleeping in hammocks in the common area.
We walked down the beach in the morning and with the help of the owner we booked a tour to Isla de la Plata for next day.
We almost went to Los Frailes beach, reported to be one of the most beautiful in Ecuador, but they control the number of people allowed on the beach each day and when we enquired at 1pm we were told the beach was full.
The beach in town was pretty busy. There were beach chairs under canopies for rent but they were all full. We swam, wandered around the town, found the local grocery store and ate dinner at the pizza restaurant next door to the Hosteria. It was excellent, thin crust pizza good enough to be from Northern Italy.
We met Dave at the pizza place, an expat from the US who was living in town. He like all the expats we met was pretty enthusiastic about Ecuador as a retirement destination. Publicly funded health care and it’s a very cheap place to live. He claimed you can live like a king on $1000US a month. He was paying $300US a month for a furnished three bedroom apartment overlooking the pacific. We also confirmed what we had heard about Malaria being very uncommon in Puerto Lopez apparently they have had as many cases of Dengue fever. After a discussion with our GP we did not take anti-malaria meds for our trip. Although we did have some with us as we were told the anti-malaria meds actually help if you come down with malaria.
Dave also claimed that the beach in Porto Lopez was one of the only beaches in the country that was safe at night and that it was so safe I could walk there by myself at night. I love the ocean but there are very few beaches in the world I would walk on alone in the dark! There were people camping out overnight on the beach but I was still not willing to walk alone!
One final note about Puerto Lopez. As with everywhere we went in Ecuador there were stray dogs everywhere. Most of them ignored us and just went about doing doggy things. The only time we ever felt uneasy was at night when they tended to travel in packs and acted a little more aggressively.