My whole life I’ve dreamed of seeing whales up-close, and our Puerto Lopez Whale Watching tour on Ecuador’s Southern Coast more than delivered! We saw a momma whale and her baby playing pretty close to the port of Puerto Lopez, Ecuador. They swam right by and even under the boat. They’re such amazing, prehistoric looking animals!
See more videos from this trip: Ecuador Coast 2018
People & Places (and WHALES!)
Puerto Lopez Ecuador
We took a bus from La Entrada to Puerto Lopez to go whale watching. Marsha at Villa de Los Sueños told us to take the bus to the new bus terminal on the north side of Puerto Lopez, but did we listen? Nope.
At the first stop on the south side of Puerto Lopez, there’s a tour company that told everyone to get off the bus who’s going whale watching or to Isla de la Plata. Well, that was us, but we already had tickets to go with a different tour company down on the beach.
Once we discovered our mistake, the tour guide offered to call us a moto taxi, but he said it was only about a 10 minute walk so we decided to hoof it. On our walk, we saw this buen caballero (good gentleman) who waved and welcomed us to Puerto Lopez. The Ecuadorians are very friendly to us gringos.
Most of the side streets in Puerto Lopez on our walk from the bus stop to the beach looked like this one. Dirt roads with people working, children in school and street dogs.
Most of the cabs in Puerto Lopez are these tiny 3-wheel moto taxis. I’ve never been to a city that used these before so it felt a bit like we were in a movie filmed in some foreign exotic land. Oh wait! I guess we were! 🙂
The Puerto Lopez beachfront renovation was recently completed and it’s beautiful. It took over two years, we were told, to tear down all the old beach shacks and replace them with updated structures.
The beach was super clean and relatively empty. It was the winter season on our trip, so there weren’t many people there.
From the beach, you can see all the boats anchored near the port, as well as the beautiful rock formations that melt into the sea.
No beach photo is complete without the requisite palm trees, sand and blue ocean background.
This picture would make a great puzzle! Notice how clean and seaweed free the beaches are. Puerto Lopez has a truly amazing beach.
Amelia and I were impressed with the fitness of this group of people working out on the beach. I had serious ab envy for the guy in the orange shorts.
Amelia has a slight public restroom phobia, so she’s always excited to find a clean bathroom. Most of the public restrooms that we’ve seen in Ecuador are private enterprises, or at least public enterprises with a fee. Most cost 25 cents for women, 25 cents for men if you need to use the toilet and require toilet paper, and 10 cents for men’s urinals.
We’ve found that the public restrooms tend to be very clean and well-maintained. They’re typically run by one or two people who continuously sweep the floors and wipe down the surfaces. However, there are exceptions, such as in Montañita. It was clean but didn’t have any toilet paper. Poor Amelia. Can you say, “drip dry?”
That’s a lot of boats! Most of them are small fishing boats. The fishers go out at night and return in the morning to sell the fish they caught in the Puerto Lopez fish market.
Here’s the obligatory vegan message: please stop buying seafood. Our oceans are on track to be devoid of fish within the next 20 years, by 2048. If the oceans die. We die. It’s that simple. Do you want to be the generation that brings humanity to its knees? I certainly don’t. That’s why Amelia and I went vegan and stopped supporting the fishing industry.
Whale Watching Puerto Lopez
We booked our Puerto Lopez Whale Watching Tour through Marsha at Villa de Los Sueños with a company called Aventuras La Plata. We were the only two people with that particular tour company, so they put us on a boat with another tour company. I’m pretty sure they pool their passengers to make the most money. Coopetition is a smart way to do business.
These are Blue-footed Boobies that we saw perched on a buoy shortly after we left the doc to go whale watching. Males use their bright blue feet to attract mates with an elaborate dance, but they’re also quite vocal about it. Amelia was obsessed with seeing the boobies (hehe) so I’m glad we saw some without taking the much longer Isla de la Plata tour, the location of their mating grounds.
Our Puerto Lopez whale watching tour did NOT disappoint! The guide prepared us all before we left the dock to be patient. It could take awhile to find whales and patiences was our best friend.
Within 10 minutes of leaving the dock, we spotted this baby Humpback Whale and its mom playing within sight of the Puerto Lopez beach!
The captain kept the boat at a safe distance, but the whales swam right up to us. This baby whale flapped its tail as if he was saying hello, just a few meters from the boat.
You can see mom in front and the baby behind her in this photo. Humpback Whales are amazing, prehistoric looking animals.
Mom and baby finally stopped playing and the passengers on the boat started getting restless so the guide took us to the next part of the tour: snorkeling on a small island beach about 30 minutes from Puerto Lopez.
It was overcast and chilly by the time we got there so Amelia and I stayed on the boat while most of the other passengers got in the water for the fastest snorkeling trip known to man. It took them longer to put on their suits than it took them to get in and out of the water! I’m glad we opted to stay warm and dry on the boat.
On our way back to Puerto Lopez from the snorkeling beach, we saw another pod of Humpback Whales. We were really lucky to see two different sets of whales on our Puerto Lopez Whale Watching tour!
This humpback was still a juvenile, but quite a bit larger than the baby we saw breaching shortly after leaving the dock.
We loved our whale watching tour in Puerto Lopez! It was a lifelong dream of mine to see whales up-close like this, and it was more exciting than I imagined!
Broke Down Bus
After a little time on the beach enjoying a cerveza, a nap and the soothing sounds of crashing waves, we decided to head back to La Entrada from Puerto Lopez.
About a third of the way there, our bus started making a loud noise. The bus driver and the money collector got off and banged on something under the bus for about 10 minutes before getting back on the bus and driving a ways further. The noise got louder and we could literally feel something banging under the floor of the bus. I’m pretty sure the transmission was shot.
The driver stopped again and banged some more before driving off again. By this time we were on top of the mountain pass between Puerto Lopez and La Entrada so we were a bit concerned about going down the other side with a faulty transmission. However, the driver left the bus in low gear and we slowly descended down to La Entrada and were more than happy to get off after more than an hour on the bus. (the ride to Puerto Lopez from La Entrada took less than 40 minutes).
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