Beach + Island

Hidden Beaches

by Bob Payne

Rugged Good Looks

Spread Your Towel: Los Frailes, Ecuador

Shore lines: Lovely and lonely, Los Frailes is the image Ecuadorians hold up when they want to match their beaches against some of the most beautiful in South America. Pacific rollers pile onto a forest-backed crescent of sand guarded at either end by high cliffs. Part of undeveloped Machalilla National Park, the beach is often deserted, especially during the Ecuadoran winter in June and July, when locals tend to stay away but the skies are clearest and there's a chance to see whales. Get there by flying from Quito to Portoviejo via Tame airlines, then rent a car or take a taxi to Puerto Lopez, where you can find a room and make arrangements for visiting the park, a few miles north of town. Best to visit with a small group, which can be arranged through tour agencies in Puerto Lopez, in case local entrepreneurs add to your adventure by relieving you of your valuables.

Best Bunk: Brightly colored and many roofed, in a style loosely referred to as "Mediterranean," the 15-room Mantaraya Lodge is without air-conditioning, but it does have private bathrooms and a swimming pool, which is more than enough to qualify it as the best place to stay in the area. Another plus is its location, about 10 minutes to Puerto Lopez in one direction and to the park entrance in the other.

Mantaraya Lodge
Tel: 593 2 244 8985
Doubles from $85

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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