This post was contributed by Michelle Tupy. Michelle is a ghostwriter, focusing on the business, lifestyle and travel genres. She quite happily spends most of her time behind the scenes writing blog posts, Facebook commentary, articles and e-books on behalf of busy managers. Michelle is currently working on a book about her family’s road trip from Cusco, Peru to Niagara Falls, Canada entitled “And Off We Went”.
While the big cities of Ecuador offer much to see and do for a backpacker, the smaller beachside towns offer a charm of their own and a myriad of things to do for those on a smaller budget. With convenient bus services in operation between destinations, travelling from town to town is rarely an issue, unless you take the speed of the buses into account.
Isla de la Plata
Located on the south of Guayaquil on the ‘Ruta de Spondylus’ is Puerto Lopez in the province of Manabi. It is a charming seaside town which is popular for tourists and travellers alike. From June through to September, the town sees an increase in visitors due to the humpback whales that pass through the area. Tours from nearby Puerto Cayo are also available. Isla de Plata, a convenient island destination, offers an opportunity for visitors to see the native blue-footed boobies and other bird and animal species local to the area including sea lions. Available all year round and offering diving and snorkelling options, Isla de Plata is a favourite day option at around USD$40 per person.
Los Frailes Beach
The nearby Parque Nacional Machalilla does an impressive job of protecting the ecosystems and includes Isla de la Plata, Isla Salango and Los Frailes in its watch. Los Frailes is one of the most beautiful beaches on offer in Ecuador, spectacularly clean due to the serious bag searching which goes on beforehand. Although free to enter, you will have to hand over your passport details to gain entry. You can take a taxi or moto-taxi from Puerto Lopez or board the bus passing from town to town. Note you will have to walk a few kilometres from the entry point to the beach unless you have your own transport, however, this does not seem to faze the many guests that visit on a daily basis.
The nearby Agua Blanca, which also requires a 5km walk from the entry point to the site, offers a small but well-maintained museum and a sulphur lake. Enjoy covering yourself in mud and jumping into the sulphur pool to escape the midday sun. Agua Blanca is a popular tourist attraction for all ages and accommodation and camping in limited form is also available on the property. It is accessible from nearby Puerto Lopez.
For those looking for something a little different, situated between Puerto Lopez and Manta (on the Ruta de Spondylus) is Pacoche Lodge. This little hidden gem offers a walk of a few kilometres which takes you through an area inhabited by howler monkeys and other native flora and fauna. It is best to cover up as much as possible on the walk due to the number of bugs which inhabit the jungle areas of Ecuador.
Swimming and surfing opportunities present themselves in many of the areas including Manta, Puerto Cayo, Puerto Lopez and Montanita. Manta is the largest town in the area and Ecuador’s second port, after Guayaquil, although Montanita is the draw card for backpackers looking to relax and spend time by the beach and surfing.
If you find yourself in this part of Ecuador, you will be able to amuse yourself for at least a week so plan accordingly. And once you have explored the coastal regions, then it is just a convenient bus ride to Guayaquil or Quito to explore what these fascinating cities have to offer backpackers.