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Beautiful Bahia de Caraquez: New Bridge and New Opportunities

Our tour of the Ecuador coast and beaches from Manta to Pedernales continued.  After another short wait in another bus station, this time in Bahia de Caraquez, friends from Cotacachi pulled into the station.  We almost didn’t recognize Rene and Merci.

They both look so relaxed and well, so beachy.  I’ve never seen them in shorts because Cotacachi is usually too chilly for bearing the knees.

Rene and Merci love Bahia.  They sold their big house in Cotacachi and are making Bahia their home before possibly migrating to Spain.

They’ve been very busy, buying and selling real estate in Bahia.  They purchased four condos in one beach-front building and say that real estate opportunities can be found if you are willing to do the legwork. That’s because there isn’t much for sale.

Since Bahia is such a popular vacation spot for wealthy Ecuadorians, they don’t often part with their condos and vacation homes.  And the area is attracting its fair share of foreigners, too.

As a result, our friends have already found buyers for two of the condos they purchased.

This is the view from one of their condos.

If you want to see more pictures and contact information for their two remaining condos for sale in Bahia de Caraquez, click here.

The Bahia bus station is a fair distance from town. As we cruised toward the city center, I took this beautiful cityscape.

Bahia street view.

Some buildings  still show evidence of damage inflicted by the 1998 earthquake.
We checked into a hotel, La Herradura, a quaint old edifice that looks small from the outside but whose numerous maze-like hallways and steps can lead to disorientation.  We chose it because of it’s quirky charm but also because of its proximity to our friend’s condo.

One website describes La Herradura as aged and atmospheric.  It’s a rambling affair with a large restaurant and small dining porch facing the ocean.

The hotel is stuffed with interesting artifacts and antique furniture.  The air conditioner in our room was wheezy and barely functioning, but we had a room on the ocean side.

It was once a private home and is located in the area of the city known as Ciudadela Norte, next to the waterfront street “Virgilio Ratti”.

Rene and Merci took us to Gary’s favorite restaurant, Puerto Amistad, which is the area yacht club.  You can dock your boat there, for a fee, and you are likely to run into some interesting sea-faring characters.

We found Gary Swenson piling up boxes of his personal belongings, pots and pans, in front of the restaurant.  Gary and his brother Larry are the co-owners and developers of Coco Beach near Jama, which is further north up the coast.
Gary told us he was clearing out his 4-bedroom catamaran in order to get it ship-shape for a trip to Mexico.  Some people really know how to live the good life in Ecuador.

Puerto Amistad sits out over the water and is open to the ocean breezes, so dining is a delight.  The menu is in English and the food is delicious.

Click here for more about Bahia de Caraquez restaurants and specialty foods, including some of Rene and Merci’s favorites.

They rent an apartment in another building along the same section of beach, with panoramic views of water on both sides of it.  They are thrilled with this find and with the balmy weather and lifestyle that Bahia has to offer.

We only spent one night in Bahia.  The next morning we woke early and took a bicycle taxi to the waterfront on the bay side.

We had fruit juice at a juice bar next to an extremely popular outdoor restaurant named Maria Emilia. All 4 or 5 tables remained packed the entire time we were there.

Vacated chairs were immediately filled with hungry customers who set about devouring big bowls of encebollado de piscado, fish soup, served with bread and juice.

As we watched, each customer would crush small plastic bags of fried banana chips into their soup and then liberally squirt assorted condiments over the entire concoction–what could have been mustard, red sauce and lemon juice.

We spied a very wide-eyed baby girl enjoying the beach scene with her mother.

This area of town is pleasant for strolling, eating, shopping and meandering.  Restaurants of all sorts abound and there’s a lovely park.

Water taxis take off from this spot.  They used to be the major mode of transportation across the bay to Canoa.

Now motorists can zip across the new bridge that cuts travel time significantly.

We ran into other friends  from Cotacachi and had breakfast with them.  The Donnellys, along with their partner Remington, are franchising their very popular and tasty restaurant chain in Ecuador.  It’s called Clippers Chicken and they have opened eateries in Cotacachi, Ibarra and Atuntaqui.

Bahia is an eco-city and one of the most beautiful cities in Ecuador.  Situated on a Pacific Ocean peninsula, it is also bordered by the Chone River which empties there, almost giving the impression that Bahia is an island.