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  1. Geology

  2. Hydrology

  3. Conservation status

  4. Things to do at Isla de la Plata

  5. Submarine ecosystems

  6. Vegetation

  7. Mammals

  8. Birds

  9. Other critters

  10. How to get there

  11. Best Isla de la Plata Tours



Isla de la Plata and its surrounding sea is part of Machalillas National Park


The North and East face of Isla de La Plata are cliffs which are important roosts for oceanic birds.

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During most of the year, the dominating cold Humboldt current from the South causes very low rainfall, while the warm current from the North, makes the relative humidity rise, resulting in increased rainfall during the rainy season. There are no fresh water open water bodies on the island.

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Conservation status

As Isla de la Plata is part of Machalilla National Park, its conservation is part of the legislation that protects the entire park. The latter is made up of two parts: the mainland of 56,184 ha and the marine area o 14,430 ha. Decreed on July 26, 1979, by Interministerial Resolution A-322 and 376, it was published in the Official Registry of November 20, 1979 R. O. No. 069. The park and the island are administered from its headquarters in Puerto López.

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Things to do at Isla de la Plata

Isla de la Plata: Located at a distance of 37 km from Puerto Lopez. According to legend, the name refers to the famous sailor of the sixteenth century, Sir Francis Drake, who supposedly left his treasure, conquered from Spanish ships, somewhere hidden on the island.


During the trip to the island you can watch dolphins and with some luck, Stingrays. From June to September the Humpback Whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, come to the region  to reproduce.


Just like Galapagos, Isla de La Plata has a very interesting birdlife, which includes nesting colonies of Blue-footed, Red-footed and Masqued Boobies as well as of Frigate Birds. The organized excursions include a visit to the islands as well as snorkeling. Small beaches and cliffs are roosts for oceanic birds. Whale-watching and scuba-diving excursions are organized seperately.


A covered picnic open picnic building / visitor center (no exposition) at Drake's Bay offers shade. From this center you begin the excursions to the colonies of birds, and see the natural vegetation.


ISLA DE LA PLATA TOURS: Boat to Isla de la Plata.ISLA DE LA PLATA TOURS: Arrival at the beach at the island at Drake's Bay.

Boat to Isla de la Plata.

Arrival at the beach at the island at Drake's Bay.


Boarding the boat to Puerto Lopez




ISLA DE LA PLATA TOURS: Harbor Isla de la Plata.ISLA DE LA PLATA TOURS: Picnic building.

Harbor Isla de la Plata.

Covered picnic area at the harbor of Drake's Bay.


ISLA DE LA PLATA TOURS: Brown Pelicans on the rocks.ISLA DE LA PLATA TOURS: Watching the Blue-footed Boobies.

Brown Pelicans on the rocks.

Watching the Blue-footed Boobies.


There are a number of trails crossing the island, but they can only be taken with a guide. The tours all provide bottled water, which is a must to bring along on the trail.


ISLA DE LA PLATA THINGS TO DO: Blue-footed Booby on the coastal cliff. ISLA DE LA PLATA TOURS: Blue-footed Booby with young.

Blue-footed Booby on the coastal cliff.

Blue-footed Booby with young.


ISLA DE LA PLATA THINGS TO DO: Guided excursion at the island.ISLA DE LA PLATA TOURS: Seals resting at a rocky shore at the foot of a cliff.

Guided excursion at the island.

Seals resting at a rocky shore at the foot of a cliff.

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ISLA DE LA PLATA THINGS TO DO: Snorkeling at Isla de la Plata.ISLA DE LA PLATA TOURS: Parents can safely take along their little children.

Snorkeling at Isla de la Plata.

Parents can safely take along their little children.


Marine ecosystems

The marine area is divided into:

  • Intertidal zone;

  • The coastal zone;

  • The Pelarctic or oceanic zone.

Each has a different fauna.


There are two different rocky ecosystems in the coastal zone:
Rocky and coral reefs down to a depth of 25 m.


Additionally, there is a shallow reef, between the mainland and Isla de la Plata, the Bajo de Cantagallo, which is a rocky submarine plain. Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, mates near the Bajo de Cantagallo and it also appears to be on a migration route of other marine mammals. These reefs have a great diverse ichthyofauna, as well as a rich invertebrates fauna and macroalgae flora.

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The following vegetation formations are recognized on the island:


Dry coastal srubland 0 - 20 masl: The coastal vegetation from the beaches up to 20 masl. Characteristic are associations of species such as the seaweed, Maytenus octogona and salt marsh, Cryptocarpus pyriformis, while on cliffs above sea level, Galvezia leucantha can be observed.


ISLA DE LA PLATA THINGS TO DO: Dry coastal scrubland. ISLA DE LA PLATA TOURS: Matorral seco de tierras bajas.

Dry coastal scrubland.

Matorral seco de tierras bajas.


Dry lowland shrubland (20 - 150 masl): The shrubs are dry, spiny and low (1 - 6 m high), such as Monvillea diffusa, Manzanillo, Hyppomane mancinella, Palosanto, Bursera graveolens, Muyuyo Cordia Lutea, Barbasco Jacquinia sprucei, intermixed with tall cacti.

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The marine area of the park is frequented by 12 species of cetaceans (whales and dolphins): Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus, Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, Common Dolphin, Delphinus delphis, Pilot Whale, Globice phalamacrorhynchus, Pantropical Spotted Dolphin, Stenella attenuata.


Occasionally Galapagos Seals are seen on Isla de la Plata.

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Seabirds are divided into three groups: shore birds, coastal birds and oceanic birds. In the first two groups: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Blue-footed booby, Sula nebouxii, Great Ffrigate Bird, Fregata magnifcens, Osprey, Pandion haliaetus.


Pelicans and boobies feed mainly on fish and squid at sea for which you see them often diving into the water from considerable heights. Both species form large colonies. Birds of the order Procellariformes are exclusively pelagic or oceanic birds that they feed in the ocean and only fly to land to nest. A good example is the Galapagos Albatrosses, Diomedea irrorata, which live in small colonies at Isla de la Plata.


ISLA DE LA PLATA THINGS TO DO: Blue-footed Boobies, Sula nebouxii, breed on Isla de la Plata.ISLA DE LA PLATA TOURS: Brown Pelicans, Pelecanus occidentalis, are common along the entire Pacific coast.

Blue-footed Boobies, Sula nebouxii, breed on Isla de la Plata.

Brown Pelicans, Pelecanus occidentalis, are common along the entire Pacific coast.

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Other fauna

Of the four species of marine turtles occurring in Ecuador the Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas agassizii; is always see in the harbor of the island, where they are fed by the tour operators for which they come to the surface. The Olive Ridley Turtle has is known from the island.


The other species occurring in Ecuador, Carey Turtle, Eretmochelys imbricata, and Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea  live in the sea surrounding the island.


ISLA DE LA PLATA THINGS TO DO: Green turtles, Chelonia mydas, submerge at Isla de la Plata as operators feed them.ISLA DE LA PLATA TOURS: The Green, Iguana Iguana, is very common along the Pacific coast, including on the island.

Green turtles, Chelonia mydas, submerge at Isla de la Plata as operators feed them.

The Green, Iguana Iguana, is very common along the Pacific coast, including on the island.


The ichthyofauna of the park can be divided into: reef, pelagic and demersal (bottom) fish. 143 reef fish species have been recorded, 94% were bony fish and the rest were cartilaginous (spine, mainly sharks) fish.

There is a large variety of invertebrates in the sandy and rocky intertidal zones which is a different ecosystem with many species that only occur in that zone.

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Getting there

The park is located at a distance of 435km (8 hours) from Quito, (185 km) (3.5 hours) from Guayaquil  and 90 km (1,5 hours) from Manta. The most convenient way to get there from Quito, is to fly to Manta and from travel to Puerto Lopez in private transport.


Main access is by the roads connecting Puerto López - Jipijapa to the north and La Libertad to the south.


Many tour operators in Puerto Lopez sell excursions to the island, leaving between 9:30 and 10:00, to return around 16:00.

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Best Isla de la Plata Tours

Dear visitor, our website gives you info about our National Parks Tours, our Galapagos programs, the Cuyabeno Loop, as well as our Cuyabeno  and Cofan Lodges in the Amazon.   For those who want to combine the Exuberant Nature of Ecuador with the Famous culture of Peru, we even have a 7 days Highlights of Peru extension! Our website gives you the best information on the internet, because we are the only tour operator run by professional biologists. Take a look:



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Indians take you in their agile dug-out canoes along winding rivers.


Start your Cuyabeno journey on Ecuador's most scenic wide Amazon tributary, the Aguarico River. Spend 3 nights in the Cofan Lodge, exploring the lower Cuyabeno and Zábalo Rivers.



Price: $ 499

 4 days

Children learning about the rainforest.


The Cuyabeno Loop explores the breathtaking scenery of lower Cuyabeno and Zábalo Rivers and the Cuyabeno Lake. Watch the amazing birds and wildlife. Pass 2 nights with the amazing Cofan Indians in the Cofan Lodge and enjoy 2 nights of comfort in the famous Cuyabeno Lodge.

Price: $ 799

5 days


Birdwatching by visitors of the Amazon in Ecuador


The Lagarto Cocha Expedition on hidden creeks and lakes is the best Amazon journey in Ecuador! Discover Indian tribes in Ecuador, Monkeys, Sloths, Dolphins. No other Amazon rainforest in any of the Amazon-Andean countries can match the wildlife viewing of Cuyabeno and it is far better than Yasuní!


Price: $ 1099

7 days

excursion on Lake Cuyabeno


The Cuyabeno Lake Program explores all the wild places surrounding the Cuyabeno Lake. Bonsai-shaped Macrolobia trees with the whispering of the mysterious prehistoric Hoatzin birds and the noisy Blue and Yellow Macaws. Our Cuyabeno Lodge is on the best location, because we were the first and chose the best location on a seasonal island in the Cuyabeno Lake itself.

Price: from $ 410

4 - 5 days


Alpacas in Chimborazo Wildlife Reserve are the domesticated form of the vicuñas.


Our Northern Andes Tour lets you get a taste of some of the best Andean National Parks, visiting the highest groves in the world: the Polylepis trees, the highest mountain in the world calculated from the center of the Earth, the Chimborazo with Vecuñas and Lamas, the highest active volcano in the world, the Cotopaxi.


Price: from $1149

5 days

San Rafael Falls


Our National Parks Tours take you on a fantastic journey along the best possible sample of Andean and coastal parks. They have been designed to complement Galapagos and/or Amazon cruises. They can start from different places, particularly Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca. While the full program lasts 9 days, it is possible to make a limited selection of parks, like the 6 days' "Andes and Coast" module.

Price: $ 1999

9 days


Bartelome Island at Galapagos National Park


We have a fabulous selection of Galapagos programs, including cruises, island hopping, scuba diving or relaxing on one of the many different hotels varying from modest inns to deluxe resorts.


Price: from $ 550

from 3 days

Inca wall in Cusco.


A fabulous program for visiting the most famous cultural highlights Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. At the same time it serves as the Lima hub for the Peru National Parks Tour. This module is an extension to our National Parks Tour Ecuador and/or Galapagos National Park and/or Amazon Cruises.

Price: $ 1199

7 days

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PARKS & TRIBES and the COFAN LODGE have their sales office in:

Calle Mariano Cardenal N74-153 & Calle Joaquín Mancheno Carcelen, Alto Quito


[email protected]

Skype: ecotravelworldwide