After spending over a month in the mountains, we decided it was time for the beach. We made a little detour on our way to Peru and took the bus to Puerto Lopez. We planned to take an 8 hour bus ride from Baños to Guayaquil and the another 4 hour bus trip from Guayaquil to Puerto Lopez. We could have stayed in Guayaquil because it is on the coastline but we hadn’t heard anything good about their beaches so we decided to travel the extra 4 hours. The plan would have gone perfectly if the first bus didn’t arrive in Guyaquil an hour and a half late. When we finally arrived at 6:30, we rushed to find the bus leaving for Puerto Lopez only to be told that there were no direct buses after 5:30. So we had to improvise and take a bus to Jipijapa, which is about 45 min from Puerto Lopez and then figure it out from there. Our options were to take a cab or to stay the night in Jipijapa (if we could find a place to stay). Needless to say, we had no idea what we were doing. The bus ride was a little stressful with both of us trying not to panic. We finally arrived in Jipijapa and were dropped off on the side of the road in the dark. We are on a tight budget so we didn’t want to spend to much money on a cab but we didn’t have many options either. We asked the first cab we saw what the price would be and when he said $20 (which we were previously told was average) we said “sold” and were on our way! We had a hostel picked out in Puerto Lopez (recommended by our friend Ligia) but they only had independent online booking and hadn’t yet replied so there was no way to know if we had actually reserved a room. The cab driver didn’t know where this particular hostel was but he stopped to ask locals for directions and we eventually found it. Late at night we went inside, hopeful that they would have a room available. We rang the bell and a gentleman came down and I asked in the best broken Spanish I could if they had a room available. The guy looked at us funny and in his New York accent said, “you speak English?” I guess my Spanish isn’t quite there yet, “yes, yes we do!” Thankfully they had an available room and we were happy to have a bed for the night. We mentioned we had tried to book the cheapest room and he brought us up to the top floor. To his dismay and our good fortune the room hadn’t been cleaned yet. Upgrade! We ended up with a larger room and a private bathroom for a much lower rate.
We woke up the next day eager to explore the city. Not knowing much about Puerto Lopez before we arrived, we were definitely surprised at how run down it was. At first we thought, why do people come here? Then we made it to the beach…”OHHHH, we get it.” The beach was absolutely beautiful. It’s a long, clean and sandy beach to walk down with the sun shining and the beautiful Pacific Ocean to wet our toes. The beach was lined with restaurants serving cervezas, ceviches and empanadas.
*Hot Tip- Never judge a book by its cover. This saying is valid when traveling as well. At first glance a place might seem lackluster but the more you explore and the people you meet can change you first impression very quickly.
As a few days passed, we began to appreciate not only the beach but the quaint and charming qualities of this very small town. Our plan was to stay only 3 days but the bus we needed to take to Peru didn’t leave for an additional 5 days. So we ended up spending 8 days at the beach… no complaints here!
Our days consisted of walking down the beach and swimming in the ocean. At night we remained at the beach eating dinner at Iguana Bar, our favourite restaurant, watching the sun go down and listening to the waves crash in the dark. One night we were even lucky enough to see glowing plankton in the waves. It was the most amazing thing to watch the waves crash down and glow a bright blue.
The beach was a nice and relaxing time because we didn’t have a schedule to follow. Rye was ambitious one morning and got up at 5:00 am to visit the local fish market. He watched as the fisherman reached the shore with their catch from that morning and ran the fish from the boat to the mini beach market.
The last full day we were in Puerto Lopez we decided to visit another beach close by called Los Frailes, which is located in a National Park. This beach was recommended to us by a fellow traveler, also staying at our hostel. We were told we could take the bus to the beach for just .25 cents but not knowing where the bus stop was, we started to walk in hopes we would magically find it…should have asked someone, ALWAYS ask. We walked for a while with no luck so we decided to ask a mototaxi how much it would cost and this is where we made our first big tourist error. When he told us the price we thought he said .50 cents. Which was an awesome price! When we arrived and gave him the money he said no, no… $15 for a ride there and back. Needless to say, that was much more then we had anticipated and being on a budget it was more then we would ever want to spend but we were kind of stuck. We didn’t even have $15 on us, so we gave him $6 and said we would give him the rest when he came to pick us up in a few hours. The fact that we paid way more then we should have was kind of a downer. We didn’t know if we were scammed or if we just didn’t understand him. We did however learn a very important lesson to always clarify the price to make sure we understand.
*Hot Tip – Even if you are being screwed NEVER give them all of your money. Even though the $6 wasn’t enough, giving it all to him left us stranded with nothing.
We made it to the beach and it was absolutely breathtaking. Light white sand and clear blue water. The waves were absolutely enormous, certainly the biggest waves both Rye or I have ever been in. We entered the water very unprepared for the power of the waves and definitely got beat up by a few. These waves just took us under and spun us around like a washing machine. Once we got the hang of it we had the most amazing time and didn’t want to get out…we both burned that day! We left the beach to meet our driver at the agreed time but he never showed up, another good lesson to learn. We ended up convincing another mototaxi to drive us back at a cheaper price. Of course if we still had some money we could have just taken the bus…but we had given it all to the first guy. Good thing this beach was worth it!
Our time in Puerto Lopez was lots of fun. It was a nice change of pace from the mountains and we had some wonderful relaxation before our long bus ride to Peru.