Isla Salango Boat Tour in Parque Nacional Machalilla
If you want to take a boat trip from Puerto Lopez and don’t have the time for the all-day Isla de la Plata tour you can always hop on one of the boats going to Isla Salango.
The tour lasts around 3 hours and is around $20 USD, including water, a glass of soda and snack plus your snorkeling gear.
Boats depart on the waterfront next to the fish market, in front of Mar Azul Hostal. At Mar Azul Hostal is one and next door another tour operator, lovely families who give the best prices in town with Isla de la Plata trips too (9:30 a.m. departure). Take a tuk tuk from the bus terminal to the hostal and you are right where you need to be. There are morning (10:30 a.m.) and afternoon departures (2 p.m).
It takes just 40 minutes or so to reach the spot where the boats moor off-shore and tourists snorkel for an hour, take turns with a kayak and do cannonballs into the ocean off the top of the boats (at least on ours!). On the way you pass large rock formations jutting out of the sea (“King Kong Rock” and “Turtle Rock”) and have lovely views of Salango Bay
The snorkeling is not great, the reefs are mostly dead with little to no colorful coral; the result of years of unregulated longline and net fishing in Ecuador. There is, however, a variety of tropical fish species that still enjoy swimming around in the area such as: surgeonfish, anglefish, clownfish and many other characters.
Isla Salango – along with Isla de la Plata and other islands – is a part of the over 136,000 acre Parque Nacional Machalilla , a protected national park on the Pacific coast near Puerto Lopez in Manabi province. The waters in the area are a breeding ground for humpback whales and habitat for sea turtles. You may see sea turtles in the water, but more often they will be seen on tours to Isla de la Plata. Another attraction in Parque Nacional Machililla near Puerto Lopez is Playa Los Frailes – just an hour from town.
If you are in Puerto Lopez during June to September, don’t miss seeing the humpback whales. They will have a variety of tours available, some half-day others longer full-day adventures that usually include Isla de la Plata, not Isla Salango.
Birdlife you will see on the tour includes the Blue-footed Booby and other species of seabirds such as waved albatross (found in Ecuador only here and in the Galapagos Islands), soaring overhead or sitting on the cliffside in a mosaic of white-grey splattered guano (bird poop).
If you want to walk on land and observe wildlife up-close you need to take the longer Isla de la Plata tour that includes hikes on the ilsand. The Isla Salango tour is water-based only, other than the stop off the beach where you can swim into shore and lay on the tiny strip of sandy beach (see photo below).
Photographs by Molly McHugh, all rights reserved.