37 km from Puerto Lopez, Isla de la Plata is a small island of just 8 square kilometers. Its name comes from the legend that the English explorer Sir Francis Drake buried a chestful of silver here in the sixteenth century – never discovered, of course. Today, the island’s fame derives from its large population of marine birds, and beautiful cliffs. Commonly known to Ecuadorians and visitors as Poor man’s Galapagos, because of its resemblance with the Enchanted Islands and how close it is to mainland Ecuador. But this hackneyed phrase doesn’t do the island justice; it’s the only place in Ecuador –including the Galapagos – where blue-footed, red-footed and masked boobies are living together, as well as sea lions. Visits usually include snorkeling, which provides a glimpse of a fabulous array of colorful fish. You might also spot dolphins and manta rays on the boat ride. As for whale watching, you’ll have the chance to see them if between the months of June and September.