If you are exploring the pacific coast of Ecuador, your feet need to stumble on Los Frailes beach.
Playa de Los Frailes definitely belongs to one of the most beautiful beaches in Ecuador. So if you are missing beach days after you explore Quito, head there. You will love it.
We also added Los Frailes to our list of the 15 most beautiful places in South America. No joke. If you think that the Ecuadorian coast is boring and there is nothing to see except for Galapagos, come here.
In this beach guide, we will mention all you need to know about Playa de Los Frailes, and how to visit it on your own.
ABOUT PLAYA DE LOS FRAILES
Los Frailes (Friars Beach) is located in Machalilla National Park on the western coast of Ecuador. White sand beaches, dramatic cliffs, and blue water is a true magnet for every beach lover. Despite the fact that it is a national park, there is no entrance fee.
HOW DO YOU GET TO LOS FRAILES FROM PUERTO LOPEZ
Playa de Los Frailes is located only 10 km north of Puerto Lopez, and definitely a perfect day trip once you visit Ecuador.
Also, getting to Los Frailes from Puerto Lopez is easy. You need to take a “tuk-tuk” to the bus station, which is located a bit outside of Puerto Lopez. From there, you need to take a bus in the direction of Manta. You can also get some snacks there, if you haven’t bought any in Puerto Lopez.
The buses go frequently and the journey is only 15 minutes. Just make sure to let the bus driver know that you are getting off at El Parque Nacional Machalilla.
From the bus station, you will pass by a little hut, where you need to write your names down.
Then you can either hike to Los Frailes beach. The hike is about 2.5 km and lasts around 1 hour, or you can take a tuk-tuk.
The hike is well marked, but mostly you are walking in the heat and we wanted to avoid that. We shared a ride with another couple and paid US$2 per person.
However, if you have lizard features, definitely do a hike for some spectacular views.
EXTRA TIP: Bring little cash with you to pay for the bus tickets. One way is about US$0.5 per person.
WHEN DOES LOS FRAILES CLOSE?
Even though it is a public beach, you can’t stay here the whole day until sunset. The Machalilla National Park closes at 4.30 PM.
It would be good if you start walking back to the car park around 4 PM. There are not so many tuk-tuks so you can still have time to grab some last seats. Otherwise, you need to walk back to the main road.
If there are no tuk-tuks left, you can also ask locals if they can give you a ride from Los Frailes. Ecuadorians are super helpful and ready to help gringos in need.
You can definitely try asking something like: “Disculpe, puedes llevarme a la entrada, por favor?”
EXTRA TIP: Because the park closes at 4.30 PM start your day early, so you can enjoy as much time as possible on Playa de los Frailes.
WHAT TO PACK FOR PLAYA DE LOS FRAILES?
BEACH UMBRELLA: We normally do not take a beach umbrella with us as we always look for shades, but there is no shade on Los Frailes. We wished so much to have an umbrella with us. You can ask your hotel if they have some or you can rent one for US$4 per day from vendors in the parking lot. We created a makeshift one with wooden sticks and a blanket.
WATER: We brought 2 liters with us, but it wasn’t enough. It is so hot that we drunk those 2 liters within 2 hours like two thirsty camels.
SNACKS: There are some small stores on the parking lot with little snacks, but as you can imagine they are overpriced.
BEACH TOWEL: We use sand-free beach towels from Tesalate and we love them.
SWIMWEAR: Its a beach day, so naturally, you need to bring swimwear. There are a few changing rooms and bathrooms in the parking lot if you need to change.
SUN LOTION: The sun is really strong and a good lotion is a must. We use Raw Elements, which do not harm marine life as they are using only natural products (use a promo code Gigi10 for 10% off )
HAT & SUNGLASSES
TRAINERS: If you decide to walk from the bus station to Playa de Los Frailes, trainers would be better than flip flops, as the path is uneven and you might trip or slip.
LOS FRAILES BEACH
We were stunned to see white sand, high cliffs with green bushes and clear blue waters.
This is such a lovely beach and once you get to the parking lot turn left. Los Frailes is home to crabs. Milion of them. And they are literally everywhere and sometimes I was scared not to step on one.
Just sit tight, and you will slowly see a lot of movement around you. Tiny crabs digging out of the sand like mummies. You can also spot pelicans and other sea birds.
PLAYA PRIETA & PLAYA TORTUGUITA
Accept of beautiful Los Frailes there are two other beaches located next to Los Frailes. And if you decide to hike from the bus station, then you will first pass by Playa Prieta, which has also many crabs. It is not advisable to swim here due to strong currents. And then you will get to Playa la Tortuguita.
IS LOS FRAILES WORTH A VISIT?
Absolutely. We loved our day trip to Los Frailes and enjoyed our time on the beach, and we are sure that you will like it too. It is super easy to get there and the white sand beaches with scenic cliffs really surprised us.
MORE TRIPS ALONG THE ECUADORIAN COAST
If you are staying in Puerto Lopez there are a couple of places you need to visit. That still holds true if you are visiting Galapagos or not, there are many other beach towns you can visit.
ISLA DE LA PLATA
Isla de la Plata also knowns as Poor Men’s Galapagos is a perfect place for travelers who are not going to the Galapagos Islands but still want to see unique blue-footed boobies, frigates, whales, turtles, and more.
It’s a beautiful day trip and we highly recommend it. We wrote a full guide on what to expect when visiting Isla de la Plata, what to see and how to get there.
If you would like to explore more beach towns along the Ecuadorian coast take the bus from Puerto Lopez and in one hour you are in the surfer’s paradise.
Montanita Beach is really nice place to relax, do some yoga, or even learn Spanish. Check our full guide on Playa Montanita.
WHERE TO STAY IN PUERTO LOPEZ?
There are several hotels in Puerto Lopez, and if you are looking for something more affordable then check Hostal Alcazaba. We stayed here for three nights and we liked it. We had a simple breakfast, a comfy room with a private bathroom and the hotel organizes day tours to Isla de la Plata. If you want to stay a bit more central check out Hosteria Itapoa.
Have a wonderful time on Los Frailes and one of the most beautiful beaches in Ecuador.
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