Los Frailes is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches on the Pacific Coast of Ecuador. Located in the Manchalilla National Park, Los Frailes is reminiscent of Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda with its crescent-shaped bay and its fine white sand. The turquoise-blue waters and warm temperatures keep beach lovers coming back for more of its tranquil waves and unspoiled coastline despite the cost of admission. Although there are few waves at Los Frailes, the undertow is significant and deceiving to those who are less familiar with its waters.
The popularity of the frailes can be gauged from the fact that it has surpassed even Miami and Seychelles in a survey of the best beach destination in the world while there has been a new haul down the line as snorkeling has become a known sport, resulting in a gradual increase in tourist attraction and providing an excellent platform for expert swimmers to try their hand out in snorkeling and all that they carry along is the Top 10 Best Full Face Snorkeling Masks with them as that alone would suffice due to their expertise in snorkeling.
With craggy cliffs to climb, an abundance of seashells to gather, and a snorkeler’s paradise to discover, you may be tempted to stay out all day. Be forewarned that there is little shelter from the sun’s harsh rays, so be sure to wear a large brimmed hat, bring a beach umbrella and reapply sunscreen often.
How to Get There
If you are arriving from outside of Ecuador, you will want to fly into the Guayaquil International Airport and take a van or bus to Puerto Lopez which is located in the Manabi Province along the Ruta del Sol (Spondylus Route). Los Frailes is located approximately 10 kilometers north of Puerto Lopez which is a delightful fishing village that comes alive during the tourist months of June through September when the humpback whales migrate to the warmer waters of Ecuador’s coast to mate and give birth.
From Puerto Lopez, you can take a mototaxi for $5.00 (one way) or $10.00 (roundtrip). Be sure to tell your driver what time you want to be picked up and they will comply. You can also take one of the buses that go to Jipijapa for 40 cents and let the bus driver know that you want to be dropped off at Los Frailes. The beach is located approximately three kilometers from the park entrance, so you can either walk or pick up a mototaxi to take you down the rather dusty trail to the beach entrance. If you decide to walk, there are two trails which lead you on a scenic route with spectacular views. Be sure to stock up on water and other supplies at the park entrance as you won’t have another opportunity once you arrive at the beach entrance. The park fee to Los Frailes is $2.00 for Ecuadorian citizens and $12.00 for non-residents.
What to See
Once you reach the crescent-shaped beach of Los Frailes you will certainly want to jump into the crystal-blue waters and cool off from your hike or dusty walk. Whether you decide to snorkel, explore the islets and caves or swim in the ocean, be sure to make time to hike up to “El Mirador,” which is a look-out tower that gives you a panoramic view of the Ecuadorian coastline. The 20-30 minute walk which is moderately difficult will allow you an opportunity to enjoy the sheer beauty of the dry tropical forest that makes up the Machalilla National Park. Be sure not to venture too far from the trail as there are various forms of cacti and absolutely no retaining walls to prevent you from falling from the rocky cliffs. Once at the top, you will enjoy breathtaking vistas of the Ecuadorian coastline. Be on the lookout for frigate birds, a variety of lizards, monkeys and deer that inhabit this unique ecosystem.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to arrive at Los Frailes, which is probably the secret to its pristine beauty. However, your efforts will be rewarded with memories of a lifetime when you visit this “pearl” along the Ecuadorian coast.
“Los Frailes: One of the Best Beaches in Ecuador,” SiSePuedeEcuador.com
“Humpback Whales of the Ecuadorian Coast,” ExploringEcuador.com
“Los Frailes Beach, Puerto Lopez,” VivaTravelGuides.com
“Best Beaches in Latin America,” Volunteer In America.com