I booked the tour to Isla de La Plata through the hotel where I stayed, Hotel Pacifico. The full day tour was $40 (July 2012). I was picked up by someone at the hotel just after nine in the morning and we walked on to a travel agency further down the Malecón. There we waited for everyone to arrive, 16 tourists and two guides altogether, before we walked on to the boat Palo Santo.
The boat tour to Isla de La Plata usually takes one hour, but during whale season it might take longer if you see whales and make stops. On our way to Isla de La Plata we only saw one whale, but we were much luckier on the way back.
Just before arriving to Isla de La Plata we got a muffin, a banana and a water bottle. I ate the muffin and banana before we started the hike to get some energy, as we were not getting anything else to eat until we were coming back to the boat. We all hiked together up to a view point where several trails began. One group was taking the west loop which is 5 km and the other group the east loop which is 3.5 km. We all enjoyed the trail we chose. Coming back to the boat we went aboard and got our lunch there, as the boat took off.
For lunch we got two sandwiches, one with tuna and the other with cheese and ham. We also got watermelon and pineapple to eat and coca-cola to drink. There was more water on board so we could refill our water bottles.
We didn’t go very far but stopped in a small bay so that the people who wanted to could snorkel. I had recently had an operation and could not snorkel, which was a disappointment for me. Not many people were interested in snorkeling though, and if I had gone snorkeling I might have been disappointed anyway, as they only snorkeled for 20 minutes and they didn’t see very much (we were not very close to the shore and the water was several metres deep). We saw a big turtle swimming under the boat though. When it is not whale season they usually do more snorkeling during the tour, but now we were going to look for whales on the way back.
We were very lucky on the way back and saw many big Humpback Whales. The first ones we saw we saw the back or tail of, some near the boat and others further away. Closer to Puerto Lopes we saw a group of whales jumping, coming up with their nose first, turning and landing with a big splash. It was a spectacular sight. It was really impressive and I’m happy to have seen this show!
We came back to Puerto Lopes around 18.00.
The only way to get there is by joining a group in one of Puerto Lopez travel agencies (+/- $30 per person, no tax included). Prefer the ones with all required permissions and a boat in good condition since it's a quite long trip. Ask them if they have enough food and water because there is no place to get them at the island.
Before going there, you need to register in Machalilla National Park office in Puerto Lopez and buy some tax-ticket (I think it was $15 for foreigners). If you plan to visit other interesting places around, you better buy a ticket for several days and activities, since it can be used to go to other places as well, like Agua Blanca and Salango museums, and beautiful Los Frailes beach.