As is our want here at the ungraceful guide, we arrived into the Ecuadorian capital of whale watching at ass-crack o clock after a mental journey. Tired and smelly (2 feelings I’ve become too well acquainted with over the last 8 months) we set off on the monumental task of finding accommodation. This would turn out to be no mean feat.
The few backpacker hostels here are outrageously expensive upwards of $30 for a private room and $15 each for a bed in a dorm. Not a good sign. But not to be discouraged we soldiered on and eventually found a place for $20 a night.
After a sleep and a good hosing down we set off to explore the caribbean-esque little town. We would soon discover that the whole town charges gringo prices, especially during high season, June to September, when the whales are out in force.
In saying that, you have got to go whale watching. It.is.amazing. We would however recommend you stay in Montañita, the accommodation/food is much more reasonable and Puerto Lopez is only an hour away by bus. We stayed in both, and Montañita was easier on the soul and the budget.
How To Get To Puerto López:
I know we normally do a nice piece on how to get there, but this time it was a bit of a mental journey with not much information online, so this one gets its own blog duh duh DAAAAAAAAAH! Read here for full details.
Accommodation In Puerto López:
We stayed in the Brisa Marina Hostel. Actually it was more of a hotel/travel lodge. Unfortunately we arrived during whale spotting season when it’s really expensive in Puerto Lopez. For a private room with private bathroom we paid $20 a night, and that was the cheapest we could find by a long shot (and required some serious haggling at that). It’s still the most expensive place we’ve stayed so far, and it cuts me deep Shrek.
The hotel doesn’t have a kitchen persay, but they set up a make shift kitchen on the roof for us to use (a gas burner and a box of cutlery, it’ll do pig).
Things To Do In Puerto López:
Book a whale watching tour:
Everyone and their mother in Puerto Lopez is offering this tour at roughly the same price, we booked ours across the road from the hostel at Millon Service Travel Agency.
They were not only the cheapest place we could find, the guy was really straight and honest with us about what we would see and how long we would be out.
The tour cost $20 each and consisted of an hour in whale waters, by law you can’t spend more than 25 minutes because it’s a national park and they Whales are protected.
After the whale watching you’re taken to a nice area of coastal water for 30 minutes of snorkeling, and finally a drive by of a local island where you will get to see some blue footed boobies (stop giggling it’s a type of bird) and if you’re lucky even some turtles! (We were not lucky).
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See The Skeleton:
About 400m on the north end of the beach, Just off the beach after the humpback bridge (So fitting!), You will find the restored and mounted skeleton of a humpback whale.
He’s totally fascinating to see and well worth a look, and not to worry totally PC. The body was found washed up onto the beach and was already dead when found (No hunting involved).
Get Your Grub On:
Try corviche at the food stalls near the main plaza. A banana and peanut dough stuffed with albacore tuna and deep fat fried. When its handed to you, crack it open and fill with salad and spicy relish. The best part? They’re $0.50 each and 2 would fill you. BOOM.
Ice cream sandwiches, yup you heard me. But not your average Ice cream sandwich, Oh no, were talking soft serve ice cream in a sweet brioche bun. Walk down passed the police station, the icecream place is on the next block but the same side. They’re so good we saw a group of cops standing in the middle of the road munching away!
As mentioned already, it would be cheaper to stay in Montañita instead of Puerto Lopez and jump the 1 hour bus to Puerto López for any tours you might want to do there.
Puerto López to Montañita:
To get to Montañita from Puerto Lopez you can grab a tuk tuk to the bus station for $1.50 (or walk for 30 minutes) and take the Santa Marta bus. Alternatively, as we found out too late, this bus stops across the road from Carlos Aray (abandoned looking bus company) a little down the road from the main square where food vendors are, we could have just jumped the bus here.
As far as times go, we do know a bus definitely passes here around 12.30pm. It’s the Manglaralto bus, costs $2.50pp and takes 1 hour to Montañita.
Montañita to Puerto Lopez:
So you’re going to take our advice and stay in Montañita! Awesome! But how do I travel from Montañita to Puerto Lopez if not as part of a tour? No problem, head to the main road outside Montañita and you will find a constant stream of busses passing. As the approach state your destination boldly and the ayudante (crazy man on side of bus) will give you a yay or a ney. Sorted.
Accommodation in Montañita:
There is an abundance of reasonable hostels in Montañita, we chose Casa Azul. Walk along the main road where the bus drops you off. Take a right and after 5mins it’s on the left hand side of the road.
Its an amazing little hostel ran by the coolest bunch of people. A creative mix of people from NYC, Argentina and Chile. So chilled. We got a private double room and bathroom with our own lil balcony area and even a kitchen for $10 per night.
Facing the town on its main road, take the third left and head towards the playground and church. Facing the beach swing a left. From the church (on your right) and playground (on your left) head to the end of that block and cross onto the next block. On your right hand side near a lavanderia is a small veg market, you’ll see the veg all displayed even on the ground! So feckin cheap. We got a big bag of mixed vegetables (onion, tomato, cauliflower, peppers, bananas and a kilo of porridge all for $2.80).
I’m a smoker, I’m a joker:
Now, I’ve been off the smokes for about 6/7 months now, but old habits die hard and I still look at the prices of tobacco everywhere I go. Rolling tabacco was my vice and is surprisingly hard to come by in Latin america. There is a store in Montañita called Pipaparaiso where you can buy an ounze of organic tobacco for $4 it’s near the Alactraz club.
This was a really cool little stop for me and Katie, in saying that outside of Whale watching season there isn’t much to do in Puerto López but Montañita was a great place to take a few days off and relax which is exactly what we did.
As always if you have a specific question or need more information, sure drop me a line I’d love to help.