Isla de la Plata
Isla de la Plata
4.5
About
Located only 17 miles off the coast of Ecuador, this island is encircled by many reefs that make it a popular destination for scuba divers and snorkelers.
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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles345 reviews
Excellent
215
Very good
95
Average
25
Poor
9
Terrible
1

Darlene H
Halifax, Canada15 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2023 • Friends
If you can't go to the Galapagos this is the best way to see blue footed boobies nesting. Tour includes snorkeling. If you go May to October you might see whale's on the way.Very interesting.
Written April 20, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

limeyl8e
Laconia, NH106 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2012 • Friends
If you can't make it to the Galapagos, the Isla de la Plata will make up for your disappointment.
About 20 miles by boat from Puerto Lopez, Ecuador, the island gets its name from the bird guano that shrouds much of the island and looks silver in bright sunlight or full moonlight. It is a bird sanctuary for blue-footed boobies and frigate birds and is also home to two varieties of rare lizards. Several tour operators in Puerto Lopez offer trips - we got ours at a discounted price through the manager of the hostal where we stayed (Hostal Yemaya) paying $35 each rather than the $50 originally asked. The boat took only eight guests in addition to the tour guide, captain and cabin boy who were all very helpful, so it was a very intimate friendly experience. Landing on the island we used the restrooms, got bottled water and then set out on the hike up to the top of the island. It was very hot and dry (so no smoking anywhere on the island!) but there are shelters at various locations to allow you to cool down. At the first one, we encountered a booby preening her feathers. While we took photos, at no more than three or four feet away from her, she gave us a nonchalant glance and continued cleaning and straightening and then gave us another look as if to say, "enough, already. Can't I have a little privacy?" Frigate birds abound. The males have red throat pouches which they expand to attract females, and again, they will allow humans within fairly close proximity. As we returned to the bay I spotted one of the rare, endangered lizards. There are fabulous views from all parts of the island. After the hike, which was about three hours from start to finish, we reboarded the boat and sailed to a cove where giant sea turtles congregate. Snorkeling is available here - I can't snorkel but I did swim in the beautiful clear Pacific with these gentle giants. Below me, clown fish and angel fish swarmed in the warm ocean. It was an amazing experience and worth every penny. No, it's not the Galapagos but it is still a wonderful place.
Written March 5, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

jjsteich
Ann Arbor, MI28 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2015 • Family
A major part of our planning for this trip to Ecuador was to arrive during whale (ballenas) season. We stayed in Ayampe, where several hostals said they could arrange a trip, but we weren't actually able to do so--probably communication on our part. So, knowing that the trips leave somewhere between 9 and 10 AM, we got on the green, 8 AM "Manglaralto" bus to Puerto Lopez. There was no shortage of 'tuk tuk' cabs, the three wheeler motorized carts, selling maps, hawking tour connections, coconut water. We ignored them all to walk down to the malecon. Finding a good tour operator blindly would not be a problem. All the tours charge the same price for the same tours. For Isla de la Plata, the complete package is $40. This includes the trip to and from the island, the Machalilla Park day pass ($15), guided tour of the island, as well as sandwiches and snacks on the boat.

We wanted to find better than good, though, and had the names of a couple of operators provided us by shop owners in Ayampe. The malecon has DOZENS of operators, and we must have looked confused (or maybe like marks?) when a young man asked us if we were looking for a whale sight seeing tour. He was from "Millon Service" which is just a door or two off the malecon. His English was very good, and he explained the tours well. Basically it breaks into hiking & bird watching + snorkeling and whale watching ($40) or just whale watching & snorkeling off of Isla Solango ($30). He didn't have the full tour available and so asked us to wait while he checked with other operators. He came back after only a minute or two to let us know that Aventura La Plata Tours had openings. What Luck! We had read good things about Aventura here on TripAdvisor and on other sites. The only problem we had with Aventura was not their problem, but rather some people who signed up for the tour but who figured that 9:45 was just as good of a time to show up as 9:15. Then, despite every bit of literature from EVERY operator and EVERY website warning people that you need sturdy shoes, suitable for the rocky island, they showed up wearing flip-flops. The dad "ran" (sauntered) back to their hotel, while the rest of us walked down to the dock, about a 4 block walk. The boat departures are staggered so that the island and snorkeling areas don't get overcrowded. The operators work very well together to ensure a good trip for everyone. Flip-Flop Dad showed up at the dock at 10:00 am. His selfishness nearly cost our boat our departure slot. Fortunately, our guide, Gela, is well liked by all, and so the other operators allowed us to keep our spot in line. A few words about the island tour itself. A lot of tours promise English speaking guides. In reality, because of the mix of tourists from South America and around the world, there is usually one guide who does speak English and one who doesn't. But the island itself has four main trails, ranging from "Easy" to "Oh My Gosh You're Kidding, Right?" and among the roughly 14-16 passengers, you will be asked to pick between one of TWO paths. Of our two guides, Gela spoke English and Dunec did not. However, Dunec enunciated clearly and articulately, so even with my rudimentary Spanish I could understand him. So no matter which guide you get, you should have a good time bird watching.
One question seemed to be very hard for most guides or tour operators to answer: how long does the trip to the island take? Aventuras had NO problem explaining the variables. It's about 50km to the Isla, and the boats (comfortable, clean ocean speedboats) top out at about 60km/h. The captain's bridge is above the main seating, and he and his mate keep a good eye out for whales. When they spot a whale blowing, or the distinctive dorsal fins, they slow for a good look. So, the trip to the island can take as little as an hour, or as much as two. The chances are better to see the whales on the trip back according to the guides, and that IS when we saw them. About the hike itself: The first 1-2km are STRENUOUS. I consider myself in good health, and I walk my dogs about 5km every day. I was conscious that Gela was slowing the whole group to make sure that the last two of us were not left behind. Gela makes this walk 6 days a week, and then he & the other guide (in this case Dunec) split duties between the easy walk, and then either the medium or one of the two difficult paths. The younger people, surprisingly, took the easy trail, and the two families plus my wife & I took the medium. We saw blue footed boobies and frigate birds, many nesting, many engaged in the elaborate mating rituals. The guide was thorough, informative, and witty. After the hike, it was back to the boat for snorkeling. My wife is an adventurous, accomplished swimmer. I am more the type who is challenged by the bathtub. She enjoyed the snorkeling, I did not. Your mileage may vary. But some people saw Manta Rays, and we all saw giant tortoises. We stopped on the way back at least four times to watch several single and two family pods of Humpback Whales. All in all it was a delightful tour, with great guides. Last word--bring at LEAST 2 liters of water PER PERSON for hiking on the island. Water is at a premium on the boat--and that doesn't mean "for sale at a premium" it means BRING YOUR OWN. It is hot, it is sunny. Sunscreen, water and a hat are a must. And NO FLIP FLOPS.
Written July 15, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

T-SGlobetrotters
Preston, UK3,504 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2017 • Couples
We booked a day tip through Rosita Tours located opposite the pier. Cost was $35, at this time of year (January) there are no whales to observe. There were 14 people on the trip.

The crossing to Isla de la Plata takes around one hour by boat from the pier. Although the sea was relatively calm, the trip is quite bumpy and a couple of people suffered from a little sea sickness, it was ok for us but something to note if prone to travel sickness.
On arrival there is a wet landing onto the beach where there are toilets facilities before the walk. There is a short steep assent to a shaded area via steps and at this stage we were given a choice between a coastal walk where blue footed boobies were raising their young and opportunities to see frigate birds, Nazca boobies and red billed tropic birds flying around the cliffs. The other option was to climb a little higher into the interior. We chose the first option, it is a walk of around one and a half hours and the chance to see blue footed boobies with their young was a real treat.

On return to the boat, we saw three turtles swing around us - delightful. There is a light lunch of melon, pineapple and sandwiches before sailing to the other side of the island for a hours snorkelling. The water temperature was warm, note the tour does not provide wet suits or flippers, just mask and snorkels or you can bring your own. Life jackets are available if required. Plenty of tropical fish to see in the water.

We returned back to the pier for 4pm.

A worthwhile day out. Although the time of year meant no whales, it was a lovely calm day and so we were both glad we made the trip.
Written January 5, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

GBoom
London, England, United Kingdom25 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2014 • Family
You can hitch a day trip to the Isla de la Plata. It is a fascinating ride 40 km out on to high Pacific seas to the 'poor man's Galapagos’. There are plenty of boat operators that offer this trip from Puerto Lopez. It can be a bit rough in high seas but operators are skilled and can ride swells. Just check that you ask how long it takes, as some boats are faster than others and one hour is the maximum that you should allow.

Once you arrive a local guide shows you around the desert island with complete nesting colonies of blue footed boobies and Frigate birds. The walk is fascinating but do take enough water (1l per person). You are offered lunch and drinks later but it is rarely enough.

After lunch they get the snorkelling kit out and that’s what my ten year old liked a lot. The area is full of fish you only know from ‘Finding Nemo’.  On the way back to Puerto Lopez, we saw a humpback whale, a splatter from a manta and a dead bright orange whale buoying along the surface pointing the way home. If you want to evaluate if this is for you have a look at our two minute video that we shot and edited in October 2014. (http://vimeo.com/111486523)
Written January 23, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

H Matt S
Naples, FL149 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2014 • Friends
We arranged the tour out of Porto Lopez. We were out at 9:30 for the 1:30 min 42 Kilometer journey to Isla de la Plata. Our guide Andy and his assistants were very helpful. Arriving at the beach at Isla de la Plata we disembarked to the covered shelter which had clean restrooms to prepare for our hike and tour. We had to climb about 100 steps. I would not say it was strenuous but it was a good climb. Upon reaching the summit we took in the amazing view and then our party had two choices of three available trails. The fourth trail was closed due to baby albatross along the path. So our entire group chose the RED 4.5 mile trail. This was a pretty easy walk except for the final ascent, it was hot and several had to take it slow. Don't forget to bring, head cover, sun screen, water, hiking shoes and insect repellent. The boat ride can be rough with 8 to 12 foot swells common.

To see the birds so close up was interesting. They had no fear of humans, we were advised to respect a two meter limit. We saw a magnitude of birds including blue footed, red footed and nazca boobies along with several other species including the red breasted frigate.

We stopped for lunch and snorkeling on the shoreline, there were sea turtles and colorful fish. Not the most impressive snorkel spot but there were things to see but not much in terms of colorful coral.

On the trip back we saw several manta rays jumping in the water. Apparently this area is active with whales during the season.

The pier that we returned to had very clean restrooms.

It is known to some as a poor mans Galapagos and from talking with friends who have been I would have to agree. But we haven't yet taken the Galapagos off our bucket list.
Written November 16, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Alex_de_Schutter
Brussels, Belgium33 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2016 • Family
La Isla de la Plata is a protected natural area which is part of the Machalilla National Park. The island is reachable within two hours by boat from Puerto Lopez.
It is called the poor man's Galapagos because of it's similar tropical dry vegetation but mostly because the island is home to the famous Blue-footed booby (marine bird) which can also be found in the Galapagos Island.
Written January 10, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ruth C
Amsterdam, The Netherlands17 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2016
We went on the trip in early May when the island was just reopened after the earthquake. We were with only 9 people and the only group of the day. On our way to the island we saw two humpback whales, awesome! On the island we did the long walk and saw blue footed boobies, Nasca boobies, fregat birds and tropical birds. When we went snorkeling we were lucky since it was pretty clear. And then we saw the most awesome creature yet: a manta ray. Just 'flying' in the water only a few meters below us. Wow. The guide was friendly too.
Written May 8, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Hannah C
London, UK57 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2014 • Couples
We booked this excursion through our hostel, Hostería Itapoá, for $35 per person. We left at 9:30am in a boat with a total of 16 passengers. The journey to the island takes just over an hour. Once docked, we were able to choose one of 2 routes to walk. We chose the walk by the cliffs. There we saw lots of blue footed boobies, including chicks! I never expected to see so many and certainly not so close up. I was pleasantly surprised. The views from the walk were great and our guide was very knowledgeable about the plants and birds.

After the walk we returned to the boat where we were able to see sea turtles, which was great! From there we sailed around a headland where we stopped for snorkelling. I was a bit sceptical about the snorkelling, rightly it turned out - the water was quite choppy and too rough to see anything. Still, I enjoyed the swim to cool down and it was nice to relax in the water.

For this trip you need a lot of water, a lot of suncream, sunglasses and a hat. When we went, the heat was really intense and I was glad we had been prepared for it. I would also bring some snacks - lunch is included but it is just two small sandwiches and we ended up tucking into some crisps that we had brought as we were still hungry.

Last thing - the crossing is actually quite choppy, much more so than I was expecting, especially on the way back at 3pm. So if you haven't got great sea legs, it might be an idea to take a motion sickness pill, or the hour journey could feel very long.
Written January 5, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Roxzanne Thewanderer
Kansas City, MO193 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2013 • Friends
I was able to take the tour to the Isla de la Plata in September. It was an overcast day and even though I didn't feel like I was burning, I burned QUITE a bit!! I am very pale and know better honestly- so just as a reminder... take sunblock and water!! It seemed like it was also too sunny to not wear sunglasses, but not sunny enough- so when you put them on it was too dark. I had two others make this same remark- so I would recommend a hat.

It's not the Galapagos, obviously- so don't expect to see quite as much. That's also why it's only $40 vs. thousands... so I don't know why people are comparing it to the Galapagos.

The whales were amazing! We saw so many!! They were breaching, jumping, tail slapping... I used to live in Alaska and we have a lot of whales there- and I never saw as many as I did on my trip out there. AND... we saw a huge pod of dolphins! I had never seen anything like it- we were surrounded on all sides... it was so wonderful!

It was quite hot out on the island with the hiking even though it was cold by the shore line. The boat ride can be VERY cold though- so dress in layers! If you have been drinking the night before I would recommend sea sickness pills- it's about a 60-90 minute boat ride and depending on the weather, it can be VERY choppy.

At first everyone was busy snapping away at the blue footed boobies- but after about 15 minutes you're kinda sick of taking photos of them, haha. I would recommend waiting til' you at least 15-25 minutes into your walk, that way everyone else is sick of taking photos (we all pretty much quit after a bit) and then you can get better photos without getting elbowed. They are practically on the pathway, and they don't run off when you're around... so don't worry about that.

With the tour we took (It should be $40 everywhere- if it's less or more, it's cutting something out or overcharging you) you do a hike, you go scuba diving and you get lunch. The problem is that the diving companies feed the turtles to get them to come over so you can take photos- which is NOT good for the wildlife :( I went on a dive and they specifically pointed that out. OH- make sure you bring a towel!!! If you go scuba diving it's necessary to dry off- and depending on the time of year, it's quite cold.

Have fun though!

By the way- if you're thinking of going to the Gallapagos... I heard from several people that if you book the trip at the last moment-as in walking up to the airport, booking a flight, booking a boat trip or dive when you get there... you save a TON of money! If you book ahead of time then you'll pay a ton more. The boats need to fill up- so all you have to do is find one with space and they'll charge you considerably less in order to get another body on the boat- money is money to them.

Good luck! OH- and make sure you have some change for the park admission- I think that's $2.
Written October 19, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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