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Getting There

By Plane -- The nearest airport with regular service is in Manta, some 122km (76 miles) away, although many folks also fly into Guayaquil.

By Bus -- Cooperativo Carlos Aray (tel. 02/2283-080 in Quito, or 05/2300-178 in Puerto López) and Cooperativo Reina del Camino (tel. 02/2572-673 in Quito, or 05/2300-207 in Puerto López) both have two direct buses daily between Quito and Puerto López, one leaving in each direction very early in the morning and the other leaving close to midnight. The ride takes 10 to 12 hours, and fares run between $8 and $12 (£5.35-£8).

Libertad Peninsular (CLP; tel. 04/2140-975) buses leave Guayaquil's main bus terminal three times daily for Puerto López, at 5am, and at 1 and 4:30pm. The ride, which takes around 4 hours, costs $7.50 (£5).

Turismo Manta (tel. 05/2600-311) operates bus service between Puerto López and Manta roughly every hour between 7:30am and 5:30pm. The fare is $3.80 (£2.55), and the ride takes 3 hours. If you're traveling to or from Quito, you should head first to Manta and then take an onward bus.

Local buses run between Santa Elena and Puerto López roughly every 15 to 20 minutes throughout the day. If you're coming from Puerto López, pick one up at the main bus stop in town, or anywhere along the highway heading south. If you're in Salinas, grab a taxi to Santa Elena and ask them to drop you off at the bus stop for Puerto López. The fare is around $3 (£2).

By Car -- To reach Puerto López by car from Quito, start off heading south on the Pan-American Highway (E35) until the intersection at Aloag. From here, head west on E30 toward Santo Domingo de los Colorados. In Santo Domingo, take the well-marked exit for E25 south to Quevedo. From Quevedo you will head west again on E40 to Puerto Viejo, where you will take E9 south to Jipijapa. In Jipijapa, there is an exit for the coastal highway, E15, which runs south from Puerto Cayo, through Machalilla, and on to Puerto López. The drive should take between 9 and 10 hours.

If you're driving from Guayaquil, you can either take Hwy. E9 to Jipijapa and then jog down the coast on E15, or take E70 west out of Guayaquil to Santa Elena, where you will join E15, which follows the coast north all the way to Puerto López. Either one of these routes should take between 3 1/2 and 4 hours.

Getting Around

Puerto López is compact and you can easily walk anywhere in town. That said, there's an abundance of motorcycle-powered "ecotaxis" that will take you anywhere in town for $1.50 (£1). A round-trip ride to Los Frailes should cost around $12 (£8), but be sure to coordinate your return pickup very well. If you can't flag down a taxi, call tel. 09/4865-361 or 09/4195-725.

Orientation

Puerto López sits along the shores of a long, gently curving beach, with a seaside street, officially called Malecón Julio Izurieta, running the length of the town. The main coastal highway, E15, passes right through the center of town, where it is called Avenida Machalilla. This is where you'll find the town's Catholic church, its main market, and, just off of the market, its bus terminal. The ocean and the Malecón are 3 blocks east of here. Most of the town's hotels, restaurants, tour agencies, and Internet cafes are located on the Malecón, Avenida Machalilla, or one the few cross streets connecting them.

Fast Facts -- The police station (tel. 05/2300-101) is located on Avenida Machalilla, 1 block north of the market. In an emergency, call tel. 911. There's a branch of Banco Pichincha (tel. 05/2300-140) on Avenida Machalilla and Calle Córdova. The post office (tel. 05/2300-236) is on the Malecón between calles Sucre and Córdova. You'll find a couple of Internet cafes along the Malecón and on the cross streets heading towards Avenida Machalilla.

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.