If you find yourself lucky enough to be touring coastal Ecuador near the town of Puerto Lopez, please take the time to visit the natural spa and sulfur spring of the ancestral community of Agua Blanca! Even if you don’t want to visit the small museum or hike the local trails, a trip to the sulfur spring is well worth it. This is especially true if you managed to sunburn yourself on the boat trip out to Isla de la Plata or while enjoying the sand and surf at Playa de Los Frailes.

A Sulfur Spring in a Natural Spa Setting

This part of Ecuador is a unique habitat of dry, coastal forests. The landscape can look dry, dusty, and barren during the dry season. However, after the rains come, usually in late December through early February, the land turns a brilliant green as bushes and trees send out new growth.

Fortunately, the trees around the largest lagoon keep their leaves year-round, providing the coolest shade even on the hottest of days.

Locals enjoying the water | Agua Blanca, Machalilla National Park, Ecuador | ©Angela Drake

Although there are many small, private sulfur springs dotting the property, they are used only by resident families. The community invites tourists, local and international, to use the largest and most developed lagoon for the small fee of $1 a person. This fee is on top of the $5 entrance fee per car to enter the community.

While there are changing areas and bathrooms, it might be easier to arrive in swim gear so that you can start your spa experience right away. Bring a change of clothes for the ride home! We highly recommend bringing a pair of sandals or flip-flops that can be left at the water edge so that you don’t have to walk barefoot from the benches to the edge of the pool. And definitely bring your own towel.

New Amenities at Agua Blanca

In 2015, there were no lockers to hold your valuables. Fortunately, that has changed! We’re lucky to have a reader who recently visited let us know in the comments below that lockers are now available! Also added are opportunities to book a massage on site or to purchase food from a small cafe. In our experience, these kinds of amenities tend to be open on weekends and holidays but not during the slower seasons.

Ecuador Por Mis Ojos

My Spa Experience Step by Step

Before jumping into the cloudy pond, you should first cover yourself with the local, dark, odiferous mud found in small ceramic cups placed throughout the seating areas around the lagoon. Your nose will slowly become accustomed to the slightly eggy smell.

This mud is supposed to have healing properties and is good to cure many ills, including relieving the pain of sunburn. 

Plaster the clay-like substance on any exposed body parts. Plan on sitting for twenty minutes or more while it dries. Then enter the cool pool to wash off the now dry, cracking mask.

Step 1 - Mud Up | Agua Blanca, Machalilla National Park, Ecuador | ©Ernest Scott Drake
Step 2 - Let it Dry | Agua Blanca, Machalilla National Park, Ecuador | ©Ernest Scott Drake

Float for as long as you like. Or try to touch the bottom of the deep pool (only do this if you are not freaked out by algae covered surfaces or slick slippery mud). Even the most crowded day we visited, on the Easter holiday weekend, there was plenty of space in the water. Whatever else, just relax and enjoy!

Step 3 - Wash it Off | Agua Blanca, Machalilla National Park, Ecuador | ©Ernest Scott Drake

This article was first published on June 20, 2015. It has been updated with more recent facts provided by our readers!

Information For Your Trip

Agua Blanca is found on Machalilla National Park. The road starts off paved but turns to dirt. It is dusty and slightly rutted but most cars can travel this road with no problems. The community charges $5 for each car entering the property. That includes a tour of the museum and a guided walk with a local guide although additional tipping is encouraged. Entrance to the lagoon is charged separately. Bring small bills or coins for your purchases. A $20 is a LARGE bill. 

  • Direction by Car, use WAZE and look for Agua Blanca, Ecuador or Museo Agua Blanca, Ecuador.
  • Direction by Public Transportation There are no public buses to Agua Blanca. It is possible to hire a taxi in Puerto Lopez but you will need to pay for them to wait and return you to town. If they leave and offer to return, make sure to pay them after the entire round trip is completed.

Agua Blanca, Ecuador