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From late June through early October, the ocean off Ecuador's Pacific coast is the breeding area for hundreds of humpback whales, which migrate there from the icy waters around Antarctica. Boat tours out of Salinas, Puerto López, and other ports offer an opportunity to observe those amazing creatures, the largest of which are 15m (49 ft.) long and can weigh as much as 50 tons. Whale-watching tours may include a stop at Isla de la Plata, an offshore island where thousands of seabirds nest.

Whale-Watching Outfitters

Exploramar Diving (tel. 02/2564-342 or 05/2300-123; www.exploradiving.com), in Puerto López, offers whale-watching tours on its dive boats during the whale-watching season.

Guacamayo Tours (tel. 05/2691-107; www.guacamayotours.com) runs inexpensive whale-watching tours out of Bahía de Caráquez.

Guayatur (tel. 04/2322-441; www.guayatur.com), a Guayaquil-based tour operator, organizes whale-watching tours that head to sea from Salinas.

Machalilla Tours (tel. 05/2300-234 or 09/6109-185; machalillatours@yahoo.com) is my favorite operator in Puerto López; they offer whale-watching excursions throughout the whale-watching season.

Pesca Tours (tel. 04/2402-504) is the best operator to contact if you are staying in Salinas and want to head out to spot a whale.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.