Isla de la Plata – poor man’s Galapagos

Oh Galapagos, should we or shouldn’t we? In the end taking into consideration time, money and Vida, George and I decided to save Galapagos for a standalone trip when we are again employed. As a consolation prize, we heard about a day trip from Puerto López to Isla de la Plata (silver island) in Machalilla National Park that would set us back $40 USD per person plus a few dollars for the park entrance. Thank the cheap gas in Ecuador for keeping the prices down.

On the way to the island we spotted a handful of humpback whales. I felt a little guilty as our boats and a few others combed the water for the whales, but our first sighting had me as giddy as a school girl. They are remarkable animals.


The tour then took us to the island which is chock-full of birds including the blue-footed bobbies. When we first laid eyes on the bird, I wondered if we had somehow fallen into Toontown. Our entire group was transfixed watching them act out their mating rituals including a foot to foot dance number performed by the males. After the bobby sightings, we hiked past hundreds of frigatebirds. Also found on the island are red-footed bobbies, albatrosses, pelicans and other seabirds. Since the Waved Albatross found there is critically endangered the hike near their nesting area is closed, so we were unable to get a glimpse of the elusive bird.

Five turtles turned up around our boat as we were getting ready to leave the island. A fitting farewell to a wonderful few hours spent appreciating the island wildlife.

We wrapped up the day with some snorkeling. No one in the group lasted longer than 30 minutes in the water because of the cool weather. The snorkeling was pretty decent though. If you take the tour which I highly recommend, definitely take layers. It’s pretty chilly on the crossing from the mainland to the island. We went with Machalilla Tours which worked out well for us.