“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” (Henry David Thoreau)
Puerto Lopez is a quiet little fishing town on the central coast of Ecuador. We spent 3 months there and met some great people before moving to the mountains after the big earthquake.
The beach is great – it’s 6 kilometers long and is wonderful at sunset when the air cools down with a breeze coming off the sea from the west. The water is about the same temperature as the air at night.
Many people visit Puerto Lopez to go deep-sea fishing, take a boat ride to Isla de la Plata, enjoy whale watching, and visit Los Frailes Beach. There are a few nice hotels along the beach, and the new malecon, lined with palm trees, runs along the waterfront in front of town.
Fish are landed on the beach at the south end of town each day, Saturday being the big landing day. The fishermen bring their boats ashore and unload everything manually. The fish range in size from a few inches to over 200 pounds.
I went to the fish market at 6:30 one Saturday morning with my new amigo, Giovanni. He’s a local fisherman who volunteered to show me around. I spent about 2 hours with him. He speaks no English (except “fish”, which I taught him, ha) and my Spanish is pretty basic. We had a limited conversation, but it was enjoyable – he’s a nice guy, and patient with my Spanish. I told him that I speak like a 4-year-old, but in 2 or 3 months I’ll be able to speak like a 6-year-old. He thought this was quite funny…
Puerto Lopez doesn’t have much nightlife, but having drinks at the beach cabanas and watching the sun set is fun. During Carnaval the beach is full of people, mostly vacationers and their children from inland.
There are other things to do and places to visit close to town. Agua Blanca is a tourist community nearby where you can go horseback riding in the dry tropical forest, visit a museum and archaeological site, and bathe in a sulfur pool.
Montanita is also close by. It’s famous for surfing and partying. A visit to Pomorossa to experience coffee and cacao production and a homemade Ecuadorian lunch is another great day trip.
You can see howler monkeys along the trails close to the community of El Pital. You can go on horseback or walk, and you can do an overnight stay in a tent. The island of Salango, located south of town is another attraction where you can go fishing, snorkeling, or diving.
All-in-all, Puerto Lopez is a wonderful little town worth a visit – or you may decide you like the laid-back way of life in Ecuador and stay for a while.
Update, Feb 27th, 2016: We moved away from Puerto Lopez two days after the earthquake of April 16th. We enjoyed the small mountain town of Giron, just south of Cuenca, before moving to the southern city of Loja, where we live presently.