Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Los Frailes

Also in Parque de Machalilla is Los Frailes, both the town and the set of beaches. Los Frailes has three beaches. One is the main beach. It's the one that most people go to. If you take a bus or mototaxi, you have to walk down the dirt road to get to the beach. We drove. There are bathroom facilities up by the main beach, and you can purchase drinks and local crafts, like jewelry, but there are no food concessions. You can rent beach umbrellas, but not chairs.

The main beach is horseshoe shaped and tends to be a little calmer than most of the beaches on this part of the coast. It is a swimmable beach, but I have yet to see it anything close to crowded. The best views are from the mirador, but I haven't made it up there yet. For some reason, it appears that I have never taken a picture of the main beach. Maybe I was waiting until we could make it up to the mirador.

If you walk to the far north side of the main beach, you'll encounter a trail. About halfway up the trail, the path to the mirador will branch off and head straight uphill. Only take that branch if you want to go to the mirador. The path to the other beaches will start sloping downhill. The next beach you come to is Playa Tortugita, or little turtle, because from the air, the cove looks like a little turtle. This beach is really much prettier, but you are not supposed to swim in it. I believe it is because of coral growth in certain parts of the water, but I'm not certain. Parts of broken coral do wash up on the beach. This beach (and the next one) have large rocky areas. On Tortugita, these rocks definitely show the black from the volcanic ash.

Bruce and I sat on some of these rocks, ate lunch, and watched the crabs play on the shore one day.

If you want to go to the third beach, I suggest you time your trip so that you reach Playa Tortugita at low tide. Playa Tortugita has a rocky area with no real path that you must climb up and down to get across. At high tide, this area is covered, but not so deep that you can't cross. Once on the other side, at low tide, there are tide pools with lots of neat critters in them, like this nudibranch. I had never seen these before.

The last beach is Playa Prieta. I was expecting the sand and rocks to be darker, but they weren't as dark as the ones on Playa Tortugita. Lots of wonderful critters in the tide pools again, and I believe I saw a ray at one point, but it was gone by the time I got the camera out.

An urchin in a tide pool

The view from Playa Prieta to the town of Los Frailes

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