Go bananas in Machala, and we mean that literally. Welcome to the Banana capital of South America, if not the world. Not an overstatement, the city is the home of the World Banana Fair every September, attracting buyers from all over the planet, looking for the best “oro verde” (green gold, or in this case, banana plantations).
The city itself is quite small and easy to navigate on foot, which is surprising as Machala is the fourth-biggest city in Ecuador. Apart from all things banana (naturally the fruit features heavily in the gastronomy in everything from thick, sweet juices to fried, served with meat), Machala also boasts some stunning nature reserves. Local steppe weather of around 25˚C, low rainfall and acres of mangrove forests have proved perfect conditions for flora and fauna. An abundance of Pelicans, Frigatebirds, and Egrets nest nearby, while Blue-footed Boobies dive for fish further out to sea. Huge Petrified trees tower above you in the nearby 2,658 hectare Petrified Forest, which features fossil deposits from as far back as the Mesozoic era. Isla del Amour, just a five-minute boat ride from the port, is another sanctuary for nature lovers. Although beach lovers are welcome too – the island is ringed by wide, quiet, sandy beaches and lapped by warm seas. The island is yet to be discovered by tourists, so don’t be disappointed to discover that Isla del Amour is a quiet haven, made for discovering or rediscovering the love of your life.