Buses leave Santa Elena many times a day, passing by Montanita. From Montañita, the bus ride takes about 1 hour and costs $2.50. Some of the buses don't have storage underneath, be prepared to put your pack in the front of the bus or on your lap.
Buses leave Puerto Lopez every day. You can take a 4 hour bus ($4) to Guayaquil by way of Jipijapa which runs at 7AM, 9AM, 1PM, and 4PM.
From Quito Reina del Camino ($13 direct) and Carlos Aray ($12 direct) are the two bus lines providing direct service. As of Aug 28, 2014 you can buy tickets at Reina's office in the center at 18 de Septiembre and Manuel Larrea, a short cab ride from the Mariscal district. The actual buses depart from the Quitumbe terminal though.
Puerto Lopez now has a bus terminal where buses now arrive and depart north of the town itself. Taximotos generally charge $1 to/from the town.
The form of public transportation are taximotos and should not cost more than $1 to get around town.
Taximotos normally charge 25 cents flat per person anywhere within town limits, but if you try to negotiate up front they will know that you don't know and might charge you more. Fare Puerto Lopez - Salango is $3 in a taxi or taximoto dedicated to you or 50 cents per person for taxis picking up passengers along the road like buses (called "flete"). Taxi fare Puerto Lopez - Puerto Cayo should be $20 - 25 (negotiate this one).
Each morning, around 6:00-7:30 the day's fishing catch is brought in the beach. A mad rush ensues with best catches being bought and carted away quite quickly. You can see sharks, swordfish, wahoo (from the tuna family), and more. Apart from fish, you will see at least frigate birds and pelicans trying to get their share of the catch.
Horseback riding. You can join a horse (or mule) tour in the nature park. Most of the agencies in town should offer these tours when asked.$40 for a full day. edit
Tide Pools: At low tide some great tide pools can be found on the North end of beach. Anemones, starfish, sting rays, and urchins can be found.
Numerous tour agents organise trips to the Poor Man's Galapagos: Isla la Plata (standard price for tourists $40 - bargaining seems worthwhile, some pay only half that price!, 1 1/2 hours boat ride). On the island you will be able to see plenty of blue and red footed boobies, frigate birds, sea turtles, and if you're lucky, sea lions. The tour is combined with whale watching trips, if it's the right season. The humpbackwhale season is from June to September. Diving is also possible. Agencies offering this trip include Palo Santo, Machalilla and Adventuris. All are located along the waterfront in Puerto Lopez and all include transport, guides, lunch, water, snorkelling mask (not fins).
Beware that the boat trip out to Isla del Plata is over an hour in a speedboat in sometimes quite rough seas. Taking seasick pills is advised.
Learn Spanish (Clara Luna Spanish Language School), Barrio Miraflores, Avda Machalilla (Diagonal al Sindicato de Choferes, Pasando el Puente), ☎ 593 99 062 5479, . Clara Luna Spanish Language School provides Spanish and English lessons in a friendly environment. Accommodations, yoga classes, and volunteering options are also available--they have a book exchange too. edit
Volunteer (Cafe de Lenguas y Cultura), Barrio Miraflores, Avda Machalilla (Diagonal al Sindicato de Choferes, Pasando el Puente), ☎ 593 99 062 5479, . The Clara Luna Language School, Cafe de Lengua y Culturas, y Biblioteca is constantly recruiting volunteers to: teach English; help with the disabled; help at an after school/school vacation kids club (reading, playing games, doing arts & crafts, drama, etc); teach yoga; help with the library; help with environmental/ecological programs; and help with chores & maintenance at the Clara Luna main building. Visit http://claralunalanguageschool.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/volunteering-with-clara-luna/ for more information. Thank you! edit
El Artesan--Palo Santo factory, ☎ 05230032, . Visit El Artesan, where products (such as massage oils, fragrances, incense, etc) are made from the Palo Santo tree. You can buy these products onsite, or at the Palo Sanato/El Artesan store on the Malecon. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.elartesan.com.ec/Free to tour. edit
Cheaper cuisine can be purchased from food carts a few blocks east of the shore -- 35 to 50 cent empanadas con queso, for example. The shoreline is lined with restaurants which mostly serve seafood and range in price from $3.50-$10. There are also three Italian restaurants in town. Finally, one can purchase ceviche and sometimes sandwiches from the cabañas on the shore.
Etnias Cafe, main street near the malecon (next door to fire station). 8am to 7pm. Lovely little cafe run by a French couple -- offers waffles, crepes, espresso, cappuccino, and great cakes and deserts. Very nice people that run the shop, who speak english and spanish as well as french. Free wifi.$1-4. edit
Mercado, Machalilla y General Cordova (Between General Corova and Eloy Alfaro). Next to the Fruit Market are several Hot food stands with tables and chairs setup during desayuno and almuerzo hours. Get yourself a delicious Fish and Yucca soup for 95 cents, or a "almuerzo completo" for $2.50 that includes said soup, rice, tiny salad, frijoles, fried plantains and choice between fried fish filets or carne. $0.95 - $2.50. edit
Paella Mar, Malecon Julio Izurrieta (beside Hosteria Nantu), ☎ 0992190914. 1700. OPEN FROM 17.00 to 23.00.Spanish restaurant in Puerto Lopez specialized in Paella. Get a Sangria 5 meters from the beach in a relax, chilled and tranquil place 3 minutes walking from the main noisy and busy malecon. Nice music, honest prices and healthy food cleaned with chlorine. 7. edit
You can sit outside at one of the restaurants and drink, or you can go to one of the cabañas, which blast salsa music and reggae throughout the evenings. Fruity drinks cost between $3 and $5 (for alcoholic cocktails), while the local beer of choice, PIlsener, goes for $1.25 for 600ml. Juices can be $1 a glass (for freshly pressed pineapple juice) to $2 a glass for freshly pressed orange juice at one of the beach front bars.
Sol Inn, Juan Montalval near Elroy Alfaro offers nicely decorated rooms in bamboo structures. Rooms have fan and mosquito nets. It has outdoor kitchen with common area. Gorgeous gardens and hammocks make for a great atmosphere. Hot showers depend on the electricity supply in the village. Doubles cost $6-8 per person depending on the season. Includes wifi.
Hosteria Itapoa, on the north end of the Malecon offers nice clean cabanas with hot water. Rooms have fans and mosquito nets. WiFi is just in front, where breakfast is served, in the back internet is available through ethernet cable. A private room with a private bathroom is $15.00 a person. If there is no hot water, ask the owner Maria (speaks English/Spanish/Portuguese) to turn it on. Price includes a nice breakfast (eggs, croissants, fruit juice/coffee/tea) in the cabana overlooking the ocean. For anything else a menu for breakfast is available. Full kitchen and nice dining area is also available for use. Tours to Las Isla de la Plata can be booked through her at no extra cost. They can be reached at email@example.com
Hosteria Mandála, (In the north end of the beach), ☎ +593 5 2300 181/+593 9 9513 940, . checkout: 12:00. Quite a special hostel with a big garden and very large cabins for rooms. The Italian owner is strongly influenced by the Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala and you can see this by the abundance of plywood art. The hostel also has hammocks by the beach, a nice restaurant, plenty of board games and an extensive book exchange.From $30. edit
Playa Sur, North end of the beach (Follow the road along the beach north.). checkout: 12. Super friendly hosts, very clean well maintained rooms with good mosquito nets, For $8 you get your own bathroom with hot water and fan, for $5 you get your own room with a common bathroom with cold water. Across the road is the beach and its a 5 minute walk or 50 cent taxi to the town centre.5-8 US$. edit
Machalilla Hostal, Juan Montalvo y Lascano (one block from the beach on the north end), ☎ 230-0155. checkout: 12pm. Nice bright rooms with private bathrooms, high cielings, cieling fans, mosquito nets and TVs. Also has a nice central courtyard with hammocks and a patio up top with several tables with sun umbrellas. $12. edit
Mar Azul Hostel, Malecon Julio Izurieta y Mariscal Sucre. checkout: 12pm. Private rooms starting at $6 with private bathroom, electric water heating in the shower, TV and Fan; shared balcony. The hostel faces the beautiful ocean, extremely friendly staff and comfortable beds. $6 - $8. edit
Paella Mar Apartements, Malecon Julio Izurrieta (beside Hosteria Nantu), ☎ 0992190914. checkin: 1700; checkout: 1100. Only 10 metres from Puerto Lopez beach, Paella Mar offers apartments with free Wi-Fi and anprivate balcony overlooking the sea. It features a restaurant and a garden. The fishing port is 200 metres away. Decorated in soft hues, apartments at Paella Mar are fitted with private bathrooms. Some have sofas, fully equipped kitchens and dining areas. Seafood and Spanish specialties can be ordered at Paella Mar Restaurant, right next door. Paella Mar is 500 metres from Puerto Lopez bus terminal and 100 km from Manta Airport. 15. edit
Piedra Del Mar Hotel Boutique, Calle General Cordova y Juan Montalvo (Downtown), ☎ 59352300250, . checkin: 1:00pm; checkout: 12:00pm. Art, style, space and taste are the best ingredients for this new experience in hotel service in the best part of the Ruta del Sol, From classic and unique in the area with original designs inspired by classic architecture with a rustic touch, especially the outdoor environments are 70% of hotel social areas LOCATION Located in Puerto Lopez, on main street just 5 minutes from the bus station and 20 meters from the Malecon-Playa. Our hotel is located in the tourist area of Puerto Lopez, surrounded by restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, travel agencies and mini-markets From Manta 1 hour and 30 minutes, 4 hours from Guayaquil, From 45 minutes Montañita$25 per person. edit
Victor Hugo Hotel, Malecon Norte y 24 de Mayo, ☎ (593)5-2300 054, . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 12pm. Luxury beachfront hotel with amazing views of Puerto Lopez's beautiful beach. Private bathrooms, hot water, air conditioning, wifi, restaurant and bar service. Multiple rooms: $24.99/person, includes breakfast and tax. All rooms with balconies and hammocks, suites available. Further away from the noise, but easy walk to the entertainment i.e. cabañas, restaurants, grocery store. 24 hour reception. English and Spanish spoken. edit
Hostal Carlos Alberto (Hostal Carlos Alberto), Malecón Julio Izurieta 1210 (At the far end of the Malecón), ☎ 0999266486. A basic hostal run by a lovely older couple. Rooms are rustic but functional with mosquito nets and sea views. The couple like an early (think 8pm!) night so will give you a key for the front door which you have to leave on the fridge when you come home. Cheapest place to stay in Puerto López.$14 dbl. edit
Hosteria Nantu, Malecon Julio Izurieta (200 mts from fish terminal), ☎ 59352300040, . checkin: 1pm; checkout: 12pm. Hostería Nantu is a tranquil, oceanfront property located on the northern end of Malecón Julio Izurieta. Each of the rooms has handcrafted, driftwood accents, a private bathroom, fan or air conditioning, cable TV, hot water & Wi-Fi. Nantu has a full service café/restaurant/bar that serves fresh, locally sourced coffee drinks & cocktails, homemade desserts & artisanal pizzas. It also has a pool, jacuzzi & some parking available for guests. Friendly staff (English & Spanish spoken). Short walk to the town center.edit
Puerto López is the closest village to Parque Nacional Machilalla. The park headquarter is one block behind the plaza in Pto López and also features a small museum. The entrance is free of charge as of 2012 (see Los Frailes below).
The serene Playa Los Frailes is located 10Km north of Puerto Lopez inside Machalilla National Park. You can take a mototaxi there for around 6$ round-trip or simply hop on a northbound bus and ask to be dropped off at Los Frailes (50 centavos one way). As of 2012, entry is free of charge (apparently it used to be rather expensive; Lonely Planet and other popular guides are outdated on this subject).
Agua Blanca is a small village and archaeological site of the Manteño people. It's named after a pre-incan sulphur-water pool in the village. Entrance fee for the area is $5 (includes entrance to local museum, guide and bath in sulfur pool).
Salango Museum Pre-Columbian Archaeological Museum Salango Commune is the first insitu Museum of Ecuador, has an extraordinary collection of original and authentic pottery, shell spondyllus, reflecting the worldview, social structure, and the pottery of the prehistoric people of the current territory Ecuador.