I came across the name Los Frailes while traveling along Ecuador’s coast. Playa Los Frailes is basically a beach located in Machalilla National Park, and it is said to be one of the best beaches in Ecuador. This beach, however, seems to be very much underrated. So, I’m here to basically give you more information on Playa Los Frailes and how to get there.
Things to remember before going
- The park opens at 8AM until around 4PM. Go early to avoid the heat and the crowd!
- Bring water, sunscreen, a hat, and some snacks. Don’t forget your camera!
- More people visit on the weekends.
- There is no shade at the beach but you can rent some umbrellas on the parking lot. There are bathrooms and ice cream stands as well there.
Starting point: Puerto Lopez
Puerto Lopez was the small town that I stayed in. Beautiful is not the word I would use to describe this town, but it is a nice place to see a local fisherman town. Anyways, if you stay in Puerto Lopez like I did and want to get to Playa Los Frailes, you will need to take a motor taxi (tuk-tuk) to the terminal. It will cost $1. Once you get there, you can ask which buses pass through Los Frailes. If you don’t speak Spanish, just say “a Los Frailes”, and people will point which bus you need to take. The bus ride will cost 50 cents and it is a 10-15 minute ride.
The bus will drop you off at the entrance of the park. However, in my case, it kinda dropped me off a bit far from the entrance that I had to take another motor taxi. To be fair, I was kinda early and maybe since the park wasn’t open yet (opens at 8am), I was dropped in town instead.
Getting to Playa Los Frailes
Once you are already at the park, you will need to enter your information (name, origin, etc.), but there is no entrance fee. There are 2 ways to get to Playa Los Frailes: take a tuk-tuk directly there from the entrance or hike. I talked to one of the staff and he recommended that I hike my way there and take a tuk-tuk back. So that’s what I did.
The hiking trail is not so bad if you are used to hiking. Note that even if you are going to the beach, it is better to use shoes if you are going to hike rather than flip flops. During your hike, you will pass 2 beaches: La Prieta and La Tortuguita. I wasn’t recommended to swim there, so I won’t encourage you here. You will also pass a few miradores (viewpoints) where you can get a really beautiful shot from the top of the cliffs.
Note: When I reached Tortuguita, I didn’t turn back to the original road. I just walked along the beach to the other side until I reached the sign that said “sendero natural” (natural trail) and mirador, like the photo above.
Read also: A Guide to Hiking Acatenango
Swim in Playa Los Frailes
When you get to Playa Los Frailes, you will understand why this beach is a really worth-it beach to visit, especially if you got there in morning. I was there around 8 and I finished my hike an hour after, so I basically had the beach to myself. Once you get there, feel free to read a book, swim, take pictures, etc. When you are ready to leave, head to the other side where the other entrance is and simply wait for a motor taxi to come by. You can ask them to take you to the entrance for cheap as well (bargain if you need).
Playa Los Frailes is definitely budget-friendly
So, there you have it! Now that you know how to get there, it’s time to head to Playa Los Frailes. Honestly, I really enjoyed my time here; it was definitely one of the highlights of my trip and it was super budget-friendly, which is important for a student traveler like me! I hope you make it there and of course, happy travels