Surrounded by banana plantations – oro verde (green gold), the region’s moniker – Machala is the commercial and administrative capital of El Oro province. This dusty city is a transport hub and there's not much to see, but it's a convenient stop south from Guayaquil on the way to the Peruvian border to refuel and recharge, or for those making journeys further into the mountains directly to the east. Puerto Bolívar, only 7km away, is the local international port and seafood center.
Parque Juan Montalvo is the main plaza at Machala's epicenter. The bus stations, most hotels and restaurants are within six blocks of here. The World Banana Fair, held the third week in September, is when Machala celebrates all things banana. Its most telling public art: Monumento al Bananero (the banana picker), naturally.