Puerto Lopez at first glance is a bit “ramshackle”, as my guidebook called it. The main road that runs along the ocean is made of dirt, and currently there is a lot of construction as they are building a Malecón. You have to walk through a construction site to move around town. Based on the part that is finished, it will look very nice some day.
I had been told there was no reason to go to Puerto Lopez during my brief stay in Montañita, but after the experience with Guayaquil, I decided to give is a shot anyway. I arrived without a place to stay, so my taxi driver suggested Mandala at the far end of town. We pulled off the highway onto a dirt road and a few minutes later I was at the front desk in a building made mostly of bamboo, asking if they had any availability. They had both single rooms and cabañas.
“What’s a cabaña?” I asked.
“It’s independent,” he replied, and offered to show me both options. I was blown away when we walked into the back garden. Big trees, beautiful flowers, hummingbirds, and lots of live iguanas greeted me as we walked through the maze of vegetation. Posted signs had pictures of star fish, sea horses, langostina, and other indigenous sea creatures.
The room was big with two beds and a private bath, but the cabana, for $5 more, was an independent hut hidden in the garden. It didn’t take me long to decide that I deserved a bit of a splurge. My key ring was a larger than life starfish, which I eventually realized I could match to the signs to find my cabana. I had a couple hammocks on the front porch, and a some cushioned wicker chairs. Inside was a bed covered with mosquito netting, an electric fan!!, and I could hear the waves fall on the beach from inside or out.
My one night stay became a two night stay before I checked in. I would extend my time at Mandala to 4 days before I grudgingly left.
Photos of Mandala in Puerto Lopez are here.