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224km (139 miles) NW of Guayaquil; 103km (64 miles) N of Santa Elena; 44km (27 miles) N of Montañita

Although it's little more than a small coastal fishing village, Puerto López is the largest town on this section of the Pacific coast as well as the gateway to Machalilla National Park. Scores of fishing and tour boats bob at anchor just off the shore, and many more are hauled up on the sands each day. The town itself is rather run-down and unappealing, but this is the best place to come to book whale-watching cruises and trips out to Isla de la Plata, as well as tours to the land-based attractions of the popular park.