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Los Frailes Beach
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12 km from Puerto Lopez, Playa Los Frailes is one of the most beautiful beaches in Ecuador. It is an exclusive beach set within the Machalilla National Park only accessible via gated access. Since it is not near a major town, and requires a car or taxi to reach it, it is rarely crowded.
Los Frailes Beach is a crescent shaped beach with cliffs on both sides providing good shelter from the wind. The water is crystal clear and very warm. Snorkeling around the rocks at the base of the cliffs you will see a variety small colorful fish. You can also dive the reefs near Los Frailes by taking a boat out of Puerto Lopez.
On calm days the waves are very small, otherwise it has small to medium sized waves which are fun for jumping and boogie boarding for teens and adults. The waves are strongest at the center of the crescent and taper out toward the edges, making it suitable for all ages and swimming abilities.
The fine white sand beach has a gradual gradient into the water so small kids can play in the shallows without getting knocked over by bigger waves. There are no rocks in the water at all, occasionally you step on a small piece of broken coral, that’s it, otherwise it is only delicious soft sand underfoot.
Set back from the beach are free public bathrooms and changing rooms, and a few kiosks for beach gear and ice creams. But there are no restaurants. There are no umbrellas or canopies on the beach either, so be sure to bring your own food and shade if you plan to stay more than a few hours.
There is a fun hiking trail to the top of the northern cliff to several lookout posts where you can see other secluded Los Frailes beaches and spectacular ocean views. During whale season the lookouts are a superb spot to spend the day, whale watching.
To prevent fire risks, no smoking is permitted in Machalilla park, including Los Friales beach. Unlike most other beaches, no camping is permitted.
The beach is 2.6 km from the Ruta del Spondylus, at the end of a dirt lane. If you don’t come by car or taxi, buses from Puerto Lopez will drop you at the beginning of the lane. From there you can walk to the beach in about 40 mins. It will be hot and dusty, be sure to bring water. Come early, the beach opens at 8:00 am and closes at 4:00 pm. They are very strict about it.
Beach activities include:
|Type of beach||White sand|
|Length of beach||1.1 mi / 1.7 km|
|Wind Direction||light on-shore|
|Restaurants and Cafes||None|
|Distance to Salinas||78 mi / 125 km|
|Distance to Guayaquil||111 mi / 179 km|
|Distance to Manta||58 mi / 93 km|
|Distance to Quito||303 mi / 487 km|