Machalilla Overview

Machalilla National Park, established in 1979, is a diverse and ecologically rich protected area located on the central coast of Ecuador, in the Manabí Province. Encompassing approximately 750 square kilometers (about 290 square miles) of land and marine area, the park is a blend of pristine beaches, arid scrub forest, cloud forests, and tropical dry forests, alongside a significant stretch of the Pacific Ocean. This variety of ecosystems makes Machalilla National Park a vital haven for a wide range of biodiversity and offers a unique glimpse into the ecological complexity of Ecuador’s coastal regions.

The park includes two major islands, Isla de la Plata and Isla Salango, which are often referred to as the mini Galápagos because of their similar flora and fauna, including several bird species that are also found in the Galápagos Islands. Isla de la Plata is particularly famous for its populations of blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, and other seabirds, making it a popular destination for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

One of the park’s terrestrial highlights is the Agua Blanca community, nestled within the remains of an ancient Manteño civilization. This site offers visitors the chance to explore archaeological ruins and a natural sulfur lagoon known for its medicinal properties.

Machalilla National Park’s marine area is equally impressive, encompassing coral reefs, rocky shores, and the warm waters of the Ecuadorian current, which attract a variety of marine life, including humpback whales that migrate to the area between June and September to mate and give birth.

The park provides opportunities for numerous recreational activities, including hiking, bird watching, snorkeling, and whale watching, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in its natural beauty and cultural heritage. Machalilla National Park is not just a biodiversity hotspot; it’s also a critical area for conservation efforts and sustainable tourism, showcasing the importance of protecting Ecuador’s unique ecosystems for future generations.

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Park Map
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Machalilla National Park Pictures