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Location: Machalilla National Park - Isla de la Plata (Ecuador)
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This interesting and rich national park is located in continental Ecuador, in the coastal province of Manabi between the counties of Puerto Lopez and Jipijapa. It has an extension of 55,000 hectares and includes the islands of La Plata and Salango, besides islets, rocks, cliffs, bays and beaches; these, together with its beautiful views and untouched areas constitute the major attraction of the park. The most important beaches are Los Frailes, Salaite, La Playita, Los Balsamos, La Tortuguita, etc. Among the islets and rocks we have Pedernales, La Viuda, Sucre, Horno de Pan, Punta Mala, etc. De la Plata Island has an extension of 12km2 and a maximum of 167meters above sea level, and is located 22 nautical miles to the northwest of Puerto Lopez. Its main features are rocky cliffs, beaches, bays, and rocks.

The land area features the only primary tropical dry forest along the Ecuadorian coast, with an important transition towards tropical humid forest in the San Sebastian area. The land area counts with many archaeological sites, due to settlements during the Ecuadorian prehistoric era, starting from the Machalilla to the Manteño-Huancavilca cultures. The most significant cultural resource is found in the Buena Vista River Valley, and includes the Agua Blanca ruins, besides other places with ceramics. The outstanding feature of the Mantena culture is the “U” shaped chair that meant power.

In ancient times De la Plata Island was a center for religious worship of the Ecuadorian prehistoric cultures. It is further believed that many years later the island was used as refuge for pirates, among them the famous Sir Francis Drake, who brought terror with his visits to the Spanish colonies from the years 1570 to 1596. Legends say that Drake captured a Spanish galley full of silver from Peru and that he buried it in the island; thus the name of De la Plata Island.

The abundant vegetation of the land area includes species such as Algarrobo, Palo Santo, Ceibo (Kapok), Muyuyo, Tuna, Barbasco, Fernan Sanchez, Matapalo, Guayacan, Balsa, Laurel, among others. De la Plata Island has flora similar to that of the continent. The great fauna bio-diversity from the coast to the highest part of the island includes deer, guantas, guatusas (a kind of agouti), howler monkeys, squirrels, ant bears, land iguanas, snakes, parakeets, Umbrella Birds, parrots, sparrows, swallows, cocubes, humming birds, land pigeons, sparrow hawks, pelicans, etc. The land area is considered one of the most important sites for bird watching in the world. De la Plata Island is important for eco-tourism as it counts with marine birds such as Blue, Red Footed and Masked Boobies, Frigate Birds, Pelicans, Tropical birds and Albatross.

Between the months of June to October the Ecuadorian Coast is under the strong influence of the South Major Current (Humbolt Current). This influence brings to the Machalilla National Park area an Up welling, due to this we have great diving conditions. We can find either in the Machalilla National Park Coast and the La Plata Island rocky bottoms combined with soft corals and massive coral reef patches with great visibility. During the dives we can see Green Marine Turtles, Sea Lions, Lobsters, Crabs, shells, octopus, and fishes like: white tip reef sharks, scallop hammerhead sharks, Manta Rays, Sting Rays, Guitar Rays, Trigger fish, Parrot fish, King Angel Fish, Cortez Angel Fish, Butterfly Fish, Trumpet fish, Flute fish, Pacific Creole fish, Leather Basses, Damselfishes, Scorpion fish, and thousands of reef fishes and colors.

This paradise becomes a fantastic backdrop for the spectacular visit of our giant friends from the deep: the Humpback Whales. These gentle giants are the last of the great mammals to inhabit the oceans of the world. They come every year along with the cold Humboldt Stream from their feeding grounds in the freezing Antarctic Ocean. The whales visit the Machalilla National Park area from June to September, using the warm waters for breeding and giving birth to their calves. The Humpback whale's courtship display includes spectacular breaching, tail and fin slapping, and spy hopping. This is displayed by animals weighing up to 30 tons, with agility of gymnasts and the strength of 10 elephants. Many of their habits, such as their songs, are still a mystery for science. Theirs is the longest and most complex song of the animal kingdom. Performed under the sea without the use of vocal cords, it can be heard hundreds of miles away.

Puerto Lopez, a fishing village within the Machalilla Natural Park, is the starting point of tourist operations in the area. Here begins the unique adventure of observing the marine-land eco-system offered by the pacific coast of Ecuador.
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Climate Data:
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Most visitors thought
Machalilla National Park - Isla de la Plata was:
Ranked as Fantastic by independant reviews Ranked as Fantastic by independant reviews Ranked as Fantastic by independant reviews Ranked as Fantastic by independant reviews Ranked as Fantastic by independant reviews
Non diving activities: Lots to see and do!
Language: Spanish
Money: USD
Stability: Active travel warnings exist for this location (see Lonely Planet)!
More Information: Country Bio from Lonely Planet

Rating: Ranked as Excellant by independant reviewsRanked as Excellant by independant reviewsRanked as Excellant by independant reviewsRanked as Excellant by independant reviewsRanked as Excellant by independant reviews95%
Highest ranked My Blue Planet photo shared by Sushi.
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Basking Shark
No Some Always
Bat Ray
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Bottlenose Dolphin
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California Sea Lion
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Common Dolphin
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Emperor Angelfish
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Gray Whale
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Great Hammerhead
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Green Sea Turtle
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Hawksbill Sea Turtle
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Leatherback Sea Turtle
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Leopard Shark
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Loggerhead Sea Turtle
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Longspine Porcupine Fish
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Manta Ray
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Marbled Ray
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Nurse Shark
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Orca (Killer Whale)
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Pacific Barracuda
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Pacific Cownose Ray
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Pacific Seahorse
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Pilot Whale
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Scorpion Fish
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Sea Otter
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Sixgill Shark
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Spotted Eagle Ray
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No Some Always
No Some Always
Whale Shark
No Some Always
Whitetip Reef Shark
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