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PLEASE NOTE: The currency in Ecuador is US$s.
I stayed a total of 4 nights in Canoa at the Hotel & Restaurant Amalur. Because I use BOOKING.COM all the time, I got a ‘10% Genius Discount’ and paid US$20 / night (down from US$25) for a ‘basic’ Double Room (single occupancy) with a Double Bed, good in-room WiFi, and a Hot Water Ensuite.It was located in the centre of town about 200 metres from the beach.Canoa is a ‘rustic’ town with the main character focused around the inner streets.
It was time to move on to another beach town: Puerto Lopez. Perhaps I would find some sunshine further south …
My hotel were really helpful about telling me how best to get from Canoa to Puerto Lopez. This is how to do it …
The Bahia Bus Terminal is 2-3kms south of town centre … so, you need to make sure that you jump on the right bus (i.e. a bus to San Vicente continuing south on the 383A is no use to you). Make sure that your bus says ‘Bahia’ and make sure that it has ‘Tosagus’ written on the side. This bus will take you all the way to the Bahia Bus Terminal for US$1.25. The trip takes 30-40 minutes.Go to the Reina del Camino ticket office. They have ‘ejectivo’ (executive) buses that go from Bahia to Guayaquil. Ejectivo buses go direct from terminal to terminal and they do not stop to pick up and drop off casual passengers from the side of the road. The Reina bus schedule is:
If you get on a non-ejectivo to anywhere else (e.g. Manta) you can add another 2 hours to your trip.
The seating is comfortable (it is an ‘ejectivo’). We had USB sockets overhead. The aircon can be very ‘chilly’ so bring something warm to wear.We left on time at 9:30am. There was a toilet at the back of the bus. At 11:10 we stopped at the Portoviejo Bus Terminal for 15 minutes. At 12:45am we arrived in Jipijapa Bus Terminal.
I arrived at my hotel at 2:30pm. The whole trip took 6 hours. Total cost: US$9.25 per person.
SCAMS & SECURITY:
Please read my blog on Banos for more information about how to keep your possessions safe when travelling on these buses.
ABOUT PUERTO LOPEZ:
Although Puerto Lopez has a decent beach, it is not really a ‘Beach Holiday’ location… most people come here to do other things (see, below).
The beachfront road is riddled with restobars …
That’s Puerto Lopez folks!
WHERE TO STAY:
Once you realise that:
- This is not really a ‘Beach Holiday’ type of town
- The more expensive hotels on the waterfront don’t really offer much more than the cheaper ones in the backstreets
- You can walk anywhere in 5 minutes
- The streets either side of the main road are as bad as each other
You soon come to the conclusion that you might as well stay in the cheapest place that you can find and use the money that you save to eat yummy seafood and go on the Day Trips (that you came here for). However, I wouldn’t go more than 2 blocks east of the main road (it starts getting a bit ‘rough’ back there with increasing numbers of ‘territorial’ dogs).
There are a variety of hostals to choose from. I guess that about half of them are not listed on the normal online hotel search engines. You can take a risk here: just turn up early in the day, walk the streets, ask around, and find cheaper accommodation (than you find on the internet).
Accommodation-wise, this is typical of what you find online … this is for 1 night in late August 2018:
HOTELS & HOSTELS (Nightly Rates):
I have stopped providing Agoda listings. They more often than not (now) just refer you back to BOOKING.COM listings … and Agoda doesn’t allow you to filter for rooms with a Private Bathroom (which wastes me a lot of time).
PLEASE NOTE: Booking.com usually displays prices EXCLUSIVE of TAXES. You may need to add up to 12% to the displayed price to get the final price.
VACATION RENTALS (Weekly Rates):
If you plan to stay a week or more, another good option is to use AirBnB or TRIPADVISOR.COM to book a Holiday Rental / Vacation Rental. I have stopped listing Tripadvisor Vacation Rentals. Alas, TripAdvisor rarely have anything within GRANDPAcker price range.
Due to additional ‘service’ and ‘cleaning’ charges, Holiday Rentals are usually best rented by the week. A comparable search reveals the following … Please Note: these prices are in US$s …
PLEASE NOTE: AirBnB usually displays prices INCLUSIVE of TAXES but EXCLUSIVE of any ‘Security Deposit’ (if required). ALSO, the displayed price may also be EXCLUSIVE of ‘Service Fees’ (which can add as much as 16%). ALSO, watch out for any ‘Cleaning Fee’ as some places charge more than 1 day’s rent!
In S.E. Asia, I wouldn’t touch AirBnB with a barge pole … in my opinion and experience the accommodation that you find is an absolute rip off. However, here, they are worth a look.
There are several GRANDPAcking options to choose from.
Have a look yourself:
I booked myself into the Hostal Dannita … it was 1.5 blocks east of the main road and half the price of something comparable on the beachfront. I booked 4 nights in a Double Room (single occupancy) at a discounted rate of US$12 / night. For another $3 / night I included the optional Breakfast. The street was ‘rough’ but, as I discovered once I got here, it is no ‘rougher’ than the streets nearer the beach.
The Free WiFi was good most of the time and good enough to stream video.
… and the US$10+ per night that I saved paid for my 1 Day Whale Watching – Isla de la Plata trip (see, below).
It was a treat. They even gave me a beer too. And, afterwards, they wouldn’t let me pay for the meal. How nice was that!
INTERNET / WIFI:
CLARO POSTPAID SIM:
I had my Claro SIMcard and Postpaid Package that I bought at Quito Airport.
For more details, read my post on Canoa.
You can walk everywhere around town.
To get to Playa Los Frailes you need to catch a $1 Tuk Tuk to the Bus Terminal and, from there, a local bus up to the Los Frailes turn off.
There are so many restaurants to choose from that it’s almost impossible to get around them all – let alone try them out so that you can recommend which are the best ones! On my first night I went down to the Cabanas D’Chuky. One of the many cabanas on the beachfront.
As a rule, you will pay 25% more to eat on the beachfront.
Back on the main road you will find food stalls in the main square on the main road.
You will, also, find some stalls down on the beachfront where you can get something like a Burger & Fries for $2.00-$2.50.
Expect to pay an average of US$3 for a cheap local Continental Breakfast with coffee (eggs as you like them, bread, jam, butter, a slice of processed ham, and a piece of cheese). Breakfast usually includes a free fruit juice.
Expect to pay an average of US$5 for a cheap Lunch with fruit drink.
Expect to pay an average of US$8 for a cheap Dinner with a Fruit Juice / Small Beer.
MY ADVICE: Make good use of the set menu Almuerzos (lunches) whenever you can … and, then, you can keep your main cost (Dinner) down to a minimum.
The normal price for a 330ml local beer in a local cafe is US$1-$1.25c. A 1 pint bottle is US$1.75-$2.00. A 1 pint Pilsener in a store is US$1.50 (US$1.25 plus a 25c returnable deposit on the bottle). A 1 litre Pilsener in a store is US$2 ($1.75 plus 25c deposit).
Or, sit on the tables across the road in the corner store and pay $2 for a litre.
MONEY / PRICES / SHOPPING:
There is a Street Market but it is small and doesn’t have much of a selection.
BANKS / ATMs / MONEY EXCHANGE:
There is a Banco Pichincha on the waterfront with an ATM. There is a Banco del Pacifico up on the main road with an ATM. There are several stand-alone ATMs around town. There is no Bureau De Change.
HEALTH & SAFETY:
The main problem is Petty Theft … which is a ‘typical’ problem in Latin America. Don’t leave anything unattended. Lock up your hotel room. Lock up your valuables within your hotel room (single lock hotel room doors are notoriously easy to break into without a key).
I didn’t notice many mosquitoes.
Don’t drink the tap water.
WHEN TO GO:
Puerto Lopez has a similar climate to Guayaquil:Guayaquil has a tropical wet and dry / savanna climate with a pronounced dry season in the low-sun months, no cold season, wet season is in the high-sun months.
If you want to see lots of sun (rather than clouds), come between December and May.
WHAT TO DO:
Whale Watching: is popular from mid-June to October and tours can be booked in town. At this time of year the huge humpback whales mate and the odds of spotting whales are very good.
Isla de la Plata: is 40 kilometres (over 1 hour by boat) offshore. It is, also, referred to as “The Poor Man’s Galapagos”. The island is surrounded by a coral reef and snorkeling is a popular activity. On the boat ride from Puerto Lopez to the island, pods of dolphins can often be seen. Some Day Trips to the island include Whale Watching.
Playa Los Frailes: Just north of Puerto Lopez is the beach of Los Frailes, which is part of the National Park of Machalilla. There is an approximately 2 hour hike in this area that goes first to Playita Negra, a black sand beach, then to La Tortuguita beach, to a lookout point over the beaches (Mirador), and ends at Los Frailes.
Agua Blanca: Also north of Puerto Lopez is the indigenous village and archaeological site of Agua Blanca. There is a museum in the small town, and a guide is included in the $5 cost to enter the area. There is a hike around the site which ends at a sulfur lagoon, where guests can swim and cover themselves in mud from the bottom of the lagoon. There is also a lookout point and 2 small restaurants there.
Salango: The Salango community has deep ancestral roots that represent about 5000 years of history and culture. Salango is located on the shores of the Pacific in the buffer zone of the Machalilla National Park. Amongst its natural attractions is the island of Salango, home to beautiful species of seabirds Just off the island’s pristine beach is the marine sanctuary, a site with schools of tropical fish and coral reefs, ideal for diving. In the heart of the community is an archaeological collection of 245 pieces dating back to over 4500 years before the conquest.
ISLA DE LA PLATA:
I bought a ticket for a full day tour to Isla de la Plata. I negotiated the price down from $45 to $40 … but, I hear that you can get them for as low as $35. We met at 9am in the morning and boarded down at the peer at about 9:30am. There were 16 of us in the boat with 2 guides: 1 English speaking.
The green track was ‘closed’ and, to do the red / red-yellow tracks requires all 8 in your group to agree to do it and walk ‘very quickly’ for 3 hours. In other words, we could only choose between the black or white tracks. We set off and walked an easy 700 metres:
Back on the boat, we were given a drink of coke and a couple of small sandwiches.
After 30+ minutes of snorkeling, you are back on the boat and heading home. We got a slice of pineapple. You are back at the peer by 4:30-5:00pm.
From Puerto Lopez, I head down the coast to Ayampe. I will tell you more about that in my next post.
GRANDPAckers CAN afford to LIVE in Canoa to GRANDPAcking standard … but, only just.
Read About – GRANDPAcking Costs if you don’t know how to interpret my figures.
MY ACTUAL COSTS:
My costs are broken down into:
- Cost of Existence: The basic costs of just being there
- Cost of Living: The additional costs that make being there fun
COST OF EXISTENCE (COE):
I lived in Puerto Lopez to GRANDPAcking standard.
I spent 4 nights at US$15 / night in a Double Room (single occupancy) with Hot Water Ensuite.
The Hostal wifi was good and reliable and strong enough to stream videos.
My room was US$12 / night and I paid another US$3 / night to include Breakfast.
I averaged US$0.75c / day on Lunches – I don’t eat Lunch anymore.
I averaged about US$6.40 / day on Dinners – but, I ate 1 night ‘free’.
I spent nothing on Drinking water.
My COE worked out to be about US$18 / day.
COST OF LIVING (COL):
In / Out Costs: It cost me US$9.25 to get from my Canoa Hostal to my Puerto Lopez Hostal.
Living Costs: I averaged about US$3.60 / day on cocktails & beers.
My total COL was about US$30 / day.
COSTS FOR 2 GRANDPAckers:
Again, costs are broken down in Cost Of Existence (COE) and Cost Of Living (COL).
COST OF EXISTENCE:
Accommodation: Book yourself into something for the first 2 nights at about US$25 / night excluding Breakfast. Anywhere will do. Once here, ask around. You should be able to get this down to US$20 for something nice long term. Excluding Breakfast.
Transport: You can walk everywhere around town. I include a weekly public transport return day / shopping trip for 2 people to somewhere close on the coast ($3 return per person).
Communications & Fees: I include a Claro Tourist SIMcard: 1 Month Data, 4GB Data, Unlimited Texts, 110 Local Talk Minutes, 23 Intl America Talk Minutes. US$27.
Food & Beverages: Your budget is US$32.50 / day. This is to eat all of your meals in Cheap Restaurants.
Your COE is US$53 / day (100% of your total budget).
COST OF LIVING:
This leaves you nothing to LIVE on. You will need to deviate from GRANDPAcking Standard if you want to have enough spending money to have more fun (e.g. find an Hostal with a Kitchenette and eat some meals at home).
THE GRANDPAckingACID TEST: Can a retired couple with no assets live easily, comfortably, and happily here with their only source of income being a standard NZ Married Couple’s State Pension? SORT OF … You could LIVE here but, to be honest, you wouldn’t want to.
Puerto Lopez is a place that you come to as a ‘springboard’ to what else is around. You wouldn’t want to spend 1 month here … a few days to see the ‘sights’ is enough.