Puerto Lopez, Ecuador 6-13 July, 2011

At the Puerto Lopez fish market

Puerto Lopez is a sleepy coastal holiday town popular with both Ecuatorianos and gringos. It is best known for its beaches, incredibly fresh seafood and ballenas or whales. We were there in early July, which is the height of the ballena season, but not prime time for lying on the beach. We also ate our share of the delicious seafood (which you can read about here) and did a trip to Isla de la Plata (Silver Island) with whale watching along the way. Isla de la Plata is also known as a “poor man’s Galapagos” because you can see some of the same unusual birds that are found in the Galapagos without dishing out the type of cash you need for a trip to the islands.

We did a day cruise to the island (there is no lodging or camping allowed on the island, which is a national park). After shopping around, we quickly realized there was no point wasting too much time comparing trips, since all the agencies sell the same trip at about the same price. We ended up going with Exploramar on a small boat with 8 other tourists. The trip included whale watching, hiking on the island, snorkeling and lunch for about $40pp.

Even though we’d visited Galapagos, were still impressed with the sheer number of Blue Footed Boobies and Frigates on the island. We were lucky to have sun as well (the only day we had it while on the coast!), but it was pretty hot while we were walking around. We were really looking forward to the snorkeling portion of the day. The snorkeling was decent, but nothing like what we’d seen in Galapagos. I think we would also have enjoyed it more if it weren’t for the millions of tiny jellyfish that were everywhere. They are aptly named aguas malas (bad waters) in Spanish.

The highlight of the day was definitely when we spotted the whale (which was only about 25 minutes after setting out in the morning!). Our captain changed course so we could follow it for a while and we were treated to a show of leaps, tail slapping and more. The video is a bit rough since it wasn’t easy to hold a camera while watching this incredible sight from a tiny boat on rough seas, but I think it is still worth a look. Incredible!!!

We were in Puerto Lopez for a week, just relaxing and enjoying the change of pace from Quito. One of our favorite places to visit was the fish market, where boats packed with fish docked all morning and folks butchered the catch right there on the beach. It was a little gruesome to see these beautiful creatures quickly reduced to bits, but also impressive to watch. Here are some scenes, with many more here in my Flickr slideshow.

PL fish market

Lots of interesting delivery vehicles in use in PL

Swordfish being hauled in

Hardworking fishermen