Puert López lies at the Pacific Coast of Ecuador. It is a dirt-road (or mudslide depending on the rainfall) fishing village lying in a bay on a wide stretch of beach. In the evenings and morning there is usually no electricity.
Buses leave Santa Elena many times a day, passing by Montañita. From Montañita, the bus ride takes 2 hours 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.
Each morning, around 7-7:30 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, Wahu (from the Tuna family), etc.
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 for foreigners to the park is $20 if you visit both the mainland area and the island. If you only want to visit the mainland the entrance is $12 and for the island it's $15. Access to Playa los Frailes requires purchase of mainland park entrance and is good for 5 days.
Several tour agents organise trips to the Poor Man's Galapagos: Isla la Plata (around $25 not including park fees, 1 1/2 hours boat ride). The tour is combined with whale watching trips, if it's the right season. The humpbackwhale season is from June to September. Diving is also possible.
The serene Playa Los Frailes is located 10Km north of Puerto Lopez inside Machalilla National Park. You can take a mototaxi there for around 6$ round-trip. You need a pass to the National Park and it can be bought at the entrance gate for 15$ if you don't already have one.
Agua Blanca is a small village and archaeological site of the Manteño people. The entrance fee is 2$ and a guide can be hired for a 3 hour tour for 3$. A small museum is on the site as well as pre-incan 70% sulphur baths. Bring your bathing suit and don't worry you will not smell like rotten eggs, the baths do not leave a smell on your skin. Fantastic for anyone suffering from skin irritations. Longer treks are possible but a guide is required.
Soll 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. Hot showers depend on the electricity supply in the village. Doubles cost $10.
Hostal Itapoa, on the north end of the Malecon offers nice clean cabanas with hot water. Rooms have fans and mosquito nets. A private room with a private bathroom is $7.50 USD a person. If there is no hot water, ask the owner Maria (speaks English/Spanish/Portuguese) to turn it on. Price includes a nice breakfast (eggs, croissants, fruit juice/coffee/tea) in the cabana overlooking the ocean. For anything else a menu for breakfast is available. Tours to Las Isla de la Plata can be booked through her at no extra cost.
You can take a 4 hour bus (4$) to Guayaquil by way of Jipijapa for 4$ which runs at 7 AM, 9 AM, 1 PM, and 4PM.