La Loberia & La Chocolatera were two wonders to see when we decided to take a trip to an Ecuador beach. Living inland for a year, we decided we wanted to experience the beach. Friends were here from the states and our time was limited, so we drove over to the closest beach, Salinas. We didn't know we were going in off season. During the high season (November-January), people told us the weather is beautiful, and the beaches are full of people similar to something you'd find in Miami. However, offseason is entirely different. The beaches were deserted, and very few shops & restaurants were open. The weather was cool and overcast most of the time. Lucky for us, we weren't planning on going swimming or lounging around on the beach but rather took to exploring the area including some long walks along a gorgeous albeit not so warm and deserted beach.
Two Main Attractions
A couple of the main attractions in Salinas are just a 5-minute drive from the beach. There you will find the picturesque destinations, La Loberia and La Chocolatera. The peninsula is home to both places and considered by locals to be paradise. The beach is located to the East of Salinas, inside the Naval base of the Santa Elena province. We drove by car, approached the Naval base gate, and asked to see Loberia and Chocolatera. They looked at our passports, and Ecuadorian ID's and they waved us in. Although the entrance is close to the beach, once inside, the park is huge. If you are thinking about walking, it will take you a long time. Just the driving seemed long.
La Chocolatera is a large cliff and the most dominant point of South America in the Pacific Ocean. Here the north and south moving currents collide creating some very turbulent water. The rising sand gives the water a rich brown color reminiscent of chocolate. Hence the name La Chocolatera. There's a very cool blowhole formation that you can get near but be ready to get wet when the waves come in the right way. Also, note the hundreds of small crabs crawling around the craggy rocks.
The main attraction of La Loberia is to see the sea lions or Lobos Marinos (literally means sea wolves). The sea lions are a different species of sea lions than those that inhabit the rocking shores of the Pacific coast of North America. Unlike in parts of California, the sea lions here are a bit hard to see from the observation deck so bring binoculars. These sea lions are not here permanently but rather just passing through. They come here mostly to rest and eat. The turbulent waters keep fisherman away from the area leaving more food like anchovies and squid for the large animals.
The entire peninsula is always windy, and the air coming off the Pacific can be quite cold, so I recommend taking a jacket.
We visited both areas late in the afternoon and got to watch the sunset. It was beautiful! Other than the beaches, these two sites are about all there is to see in Salinas. So if Salinas is in you travel plans, think “relaxation.” There will be plenty of time for it.
For another vacation spot in Ecuador, check out Vilcabamba.
Here's a short 1-minute video of La Chocolatera and La Loboria
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