Ecuador’s protected island – Isla de la Plata

I booked a tour to the island off the coast of Puerto Lopez. My daughter wasn’t interested. Unbeknown to her, she was going to the Galapagos Islands in a couple of weeks so just as well she didn’t waste money touring this island. I, on the other hand, wasn’t. Instead I headed to what was coined the poor man’s Galapagos.

Humpback whales on the way to Isla de la Plata
Humpback whales on the way to Isla de la Plata

We sailed past humpback whales to arrive on the northeastern side of the island sanctuary. No one is permitted to visit without a guide, and it was clear why from the abundance of birds that didn’t flinch as we walked by. The island was teaming with squawking birds: frigates, blue footed boobies, red boobies, Nazca boobies, completely ignoring our close proximity.

Frigates, Isla de la Plata
Frigates, Isla de la Plata

We crossed to the other side of the small island, where more humpbacks sprouted offshore and the wind cooled the hot air.

Blue footed boobies, Isla de la Plata
Blue footed boobies, Isla de la Plata
Baby blue footed boogie, Isla de la Plata
Baby blue footed boobie, Isla de la Plata

I was surprised by a group of women I guessed from Guayaquil on the tour. When we got half way up the hill heading towards the birds, they said they weren’t going any further. In the afternoon, when we anchored near a beautiful lagoon to swim, they stayed on the boat. I couldn’t see the point of their day.

Red boogie, Isla de la Plata
Red boobie, Isla de la Plata

This was one of the best days of my entire Ecuador tour. We had a friendly and knowledgeable guide, Carlos, who took us within centimetres of wild birds and then snorkeled in pristine water peering at underwater rock formations and colourful fish. Who would want to just sit in a boat? I had to be practically dragged from the water when it was time to head back to Puerto Lopez.

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