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Dive Review of Exploramar Diving/Hosteria Mandala in
General Travel/Other Locations/Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Exploramar Diving/Hosteria Mandala: "Puerto Lopez, Ecuador, but alas no Isla de la Plata", Nov, 2015,

by Mark A. Magers, CA, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 20 reports with 23 Helpful votes). Report 8601.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 2 stars
Comments We signed up for a day of diving with Exploramar, hoping we would get to make the trip to Island de la Plata, the “poor man’s Galapagos”. Turned out they needed two more divers to make that trip, so we didn’t get to go. We were indeed disappointed, but when you have only one day to dive in a specific spot, you take what you can get. The upside of that is that we were the only divers on the boat, so got plenty of attention, and some good local intel from the divemaster, Alessandro.

First dive was to a spot maybe 15 minutes from the shop called Whale Rock at Isla Salanga – we cannot verify the rock looks like a whale. The vis was not very good, alas, and though we saw several small stingrays, a guitarfish or two, several porcupinefish and a goodly number of butterfly and surgeonfish, it was not much of a dive, and a lot of work, with current and surge, for the limited “content”. And having just seen, a few days before, dozens of hammerheads off the Galapagos, maybe our expectations were too high.

We did a leisurely surface interval, and learned from the DM about the sharks we had seen in the “artisanal fishers” pangas as we left the dock that morning. One boat had 5-6 thresher shark tails sticking out of it. We saw a dead and finned hammerhead on the beach (they are supposed to be protected). The net (no pun intended) seems to be there are rules but no teeth or resources to enforce them. So fishermen, perched on the edge of a national park, more or less do what they want. Not a big surprise we saw no sharks on either of the dives.

Dive two – we were given the option to return to Whale Rock, or spend our time more or less where we spent the surface interval, just off La Playita, in calm water 20-30 feet deep. The cost/benefit of dive one decided for us – stay put and do a calmer dive in better vis. It was a good decision. We saw numerous morays, brown spotted, blue spotted, a spotted sea snake eel, and a number of octopus dens (and 1 octopus in one). There were a lot of the usual reef fish, sergeant majors valiantly defending their nests, surgeonfish, burrfish, wrasse, hogfish, hawkfish. And a very large green nudibranch – 6-7” long. We suggested they name the site Safety Stop, since in fact our computers rarely even switched into “No Dec Time” mode.

We wish we could be reporting on Isla de la Plata, but at a minimum we felt the service we got was very good. We were told to come back in July to be guaranteed mantas. Might have to do that sometime.

We spent a couple of nights at Hosteria Mandala, and must say it is a very interesting place, full of interesting surprises, mostly good ones. The hosts are European, and of an artistic bent, and something like 5 languages are spoken by the staff. The impact of art is everywhere – fiberglass molded manta ray light fixtures, a rainbow colored whale tail garden sculpture, an illuminated dolphin tower across the street on the beach, and a cool humpback whale skeleton, cleaned, preserved and mounted, along with story boards (in several languages) about humpbacks and their preservation. Fun place.

The restaurant was fine, and the service quite good.

Websites Exploramar Diving   Hosteria Mandala

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving GBR, Saba, Montserrat, Dominica, Barbados, Cuba, USVI, Belize, Honduras, Mexico, HI, WA, CA, RI
Closest Airport Getting There Drive from Guayaquil

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 73-75°F / 23-24°C Wetsuit Thickness 7
Water Visibility 10-50 Ft/ 3-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions Followed DM
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 1 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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