Puerto López lies at the Pacific Coast of Ecuador. It is a mostly dirt-road (or mudslide depending on the rainfall) fishing village lying in a bay on a wide stretch of beach.
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 and Carlos Aray are the two buslines providing direct service. As of 09/13/2011 you could take Reina del Camino from Quito's center (thus avoiding the long journey out to the Quitumbe terminal) at 8:30 PM for $13. Their office/terminal in the center is at 18 de Septiembre and Manuel Larrea, a short cab ride from the Mariscal district.
You can walk everywhere in Puerto Lopez.
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.
Several 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.
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.
The Whale Café. offers delicious pizzas made with homemade bread, along with dishes from all over the world from $5-$10. NOTE: At the time of writing (June 20 2013) The Whale Cafe is closed for what appears to be refurbishment
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.
Restaurant Russo, corner of main street near the malecon (cross the road from Etnias Cafe and you'll see the sign of Russo). 9am to 12pm. Real Russian and European cousine. Decent small european-style restaurant with real steak blood, Russian pelmeny and wareniky. Works till 12PM which is extremely rare here. Run by a very friendly Ukrainian couple who speak Spanish and Russian.$2.50-8.
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.
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.
Hostal 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 $10.00 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. Tours to Las Isla de la Plata can be booked through her at no extra cost.
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.
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 $5 you get your own room with a common bathroom with cold water. Across the road is the beach and its a 5 minute walk or 50 cent taxi to the town centre.5-8 US$.
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. $7.
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 - $8.
Puerto López is the closest village to Parque Nacional Machilalla. The park headquarter is one block behind the plaza in Pto López and also features a small museum. The entrance is free of charge as of 2012 (see Los Frailes below).
The serene Playa Los Frailes is located 10Km north of Puerto Lopez inside Machalilla National Park. You can take a mototaxi there for around 6$ 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.