Bahía de Caráquez is a little town in Ecuador with beaches and friendly people. It is situated on a pointy peninsula between the Chone River and the Pacific Ocean. While during the weekends many people head off to Canoa for their partying, around Bahía you can find activities such as bird-watching in the Isla Corazon, Paragliding near the Cliffs of Canoa, surfing, and volunteer experiences also abound. The town still shows damages from the 2016 earthquake and is recovering (2018).
About a 5 mile beach walk outside of Bahia de Caraquez is Punta Gorda Reserve where volunteers can work on the last bit of the Tropical Dry Forest while getting away from the gringo trail, busy bus lines, always on the go travel style. The Cabin Tortuguita “Small Turtle” is perched high on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean to the west. In the reserve you can discover many old pottery laden fields from thousands of years ago, hike, maintain the trails, fish with the only subsistence fishing family for miles, try out some surfing on the board provided, and just relax on the hammocks with the cool breeze.
You can get to Bahia de Caraquez by bus from Quito (eight hours) or Guayaquil (six hours). Coming from Guayaquil there is a five-hour ride offered by at least two bus companies (Reina del Camino and Coactur included) that stops in Jipijapa (a good point to get on/off to go to Puerto Lopez) and Portoviejo, the capital of the Manabi state.
From Quito it is 7-8 hours to Bahía. You can do it during the day or night, by regular or executive service. The executive service is more comfortable and safer than the regular services. (total in 2018 ca. 12USD p.P.). Security is very high on these buses and you might be frisked before getting on. Remember to take a sweater (and a blanket) with you on the bus as the air conditioning can get very cold => if it is too cold tell the driver, mostly they will adjust the temperature!.
There are two executive services per day. The executives leave Quito at 12.50PM and 11.45PM, the regular services are at 10.30AM and 11.30PM.
In Quito the busoperator "Reina del Camino" has 2 offices:
1. Terminal Terrestre
2. 18 de Septiembre and Av. Patria close to the junction of Av. Patria and 10 de Agosto. You can buy tickets for all services at 18 de Septiembre but the only service that actually leaves from there is the executive night bus at 11.pm (this is the 11.45PM service mentioned earlier, but it leaves from here at 11.pm then travels to the main bus station, picks up passengers and leaves from there at 11.45PM).
Be careful with your belongings in the main bus station … don’t be distracted! If you come from Quito on the day bus make sure you get a seat on the right hand side for great views.
Information on bus schedules can found at AndesTransit
As a small beach-side town, there are few places in Bahia that cannot be reached in under 15 minutes on foot. The hospital is an exception, but may be reached by cab or the local bus.
If you walk lonely streets watch out for dogs and carry some stones with you. Some pavements need still repair from the earthquake 2016 (2018).
As an "eco-friendly city," Bahia has numerous bicycle taxis (Pedicap) that will ferry you for short distances (0,50 to 1 USD (2018)).
Normal taxis are common (do not have meters) and typically will charge for a short ride 1,25 USD, Bahia to Leonidas Plaza 1,50 to 2,00 USD, to San Vicente on the other side of the Rio Chone 2,00 USD (a bit more at night).
There are two city-bus lines from the Terminal Terreste in Leonidas Plaza. A bus can be flagged down anywhere. Shout when you want to have a stop, some are going farther than the busterminal, so tell the ticketguy where you want to get out, when you get in!
- Bus with green stripes goes to Bahia [0.30 USD (2018)]
- Bus with red stripes goes to San Vincente and turn on to the Bridge before the Paseo Shopping Mall! [0.50 USD (2018)]
Bus to Canoa-Beach ca 25m in for 1,00 USD (2018) : Watch for the sign in the windscreen! You can stop the bus going from Leonidas Plaza before it will take a leftturn to go onto the bridge to San Vincente (wait ca. 4 lampposts before the crossing upriver of the shoppingmall on the side of the river)
Busterminal for long distances at the E end of town (Leonidas Plaza) - In a Bus to Quito take a seat left on the drivers side for best views; 10-12USD (2018)
There is a great little museum in the old Banco Central building. A number of interesting artifacts from indigenous societies are on display and have been well documented. Entrance fee is free and a multi-lingual guide will accompany you at no additional cost (if available - spanish speaking guides will be there for sure).
Closed due to the damage through the earthquake 2016 (2018).
Chirije Archaeological SiteEdit
Chirije (chee-ree-hey) is the newest and most attractive ecological and archaeological park along the Ecuadorian coast. Completed in 1996, Chirije is surrounded by 238 hectares of Dry Tropical Forest and miles of unspoiled beaches. This valley was the home of many consecutive pre-Columbian settlements.
Chirije is one of the many interesting archaeological sites of coastal Ecuador. The archaeologist Emilio Estrada discovered the site in the 1950s, and named a new culture called the Chirije Culture here. Chirije, an ancient seaport, was the site of the great settlement of the Bahia culture (500 B.C.- 500 A.D.). These seafaring merchants traded skillfully crafted ornaments or whole shells as far north as Mexico and as far south as Chile, for gold, copper and other precious items.
Chirije Onsite museum, is built over an excavation in a hill. Here you find 3 sources of archaeological pieces. The first being all the pieces found by the Archaeologists in scientific controlled excavations. The second, being the pieces found by the staff on site and on the surface of the ground, and the third being the pieces found by all the travelers combing the beach...There are still many mysteries of the ancient past to be found in Chirije.
Come and explore the preincan cultures of Ecuador.
- Chirije, 15 Km south of Bahia (Arrive to CasaGrande in Bahia then a short drive on the beach to Chirije, you can only get there on low tide), ☎ +593 99171935, . edit
Chirije pre-Columbian PortEdit
They were the most maritime of all cultures on the western coast of South America. They used the Ecuadorian Balsa and for thousands of years traded the mythical and sacred Red Thorny Oyster, the Spondylus shell. The most demanded shell of all the Pacific was this bivalve that existed mostly in Ecuadorian waters. The sailors traded this shell in their routes from the actual territory of Ecuador all the way up to the lands that comprise Mexico in the north and Chile to the south, for gold, turquoise, lapilazuli. The first contact of one of these sailing vessels was made when Francisco Pizarros exploratory ships (Bartolomeo Ruiz was the captain) to the land of the gold, in 1526, and the design was drawn to the most perfect detail.
“This ship…seems to hold up to 30 tonnes, and the bottom is made of canes, as thick as posts. All tied up with rope made from something like hemp. And in the high parts, thinner canes, tied with this rope, where the people where in. All the items of trade were also on the higher part, because of it probably getting wet if it went on the bottom. There masts and antennas were made of very fine wood, and Sails as large as the ones we use on our ships. “
Samano Account, 1526 (The first manuscripts of Accounts of the Conquest led by Francisco Pizarro)
Balsawood vessel replica of first contact found in local Bahia de Caraquez museum.
Chirije is an ecolodge located on a secluded beach atop an ancient archaeological site. Bahía de Caráquez is the nearest town to the resort, located 15km North of the site. On the coast of Ecuador, Chirije lies just 90 km south of the Equator line. The only way to access this piece of ancient paradise is to drive with us on the beach, while enjoying an incredible view. Come and enjoy this unique and authentic experience! Cabins at great prices with hot water and super comfortable.
Isla Corazon ToursEdit
Isla Corazon (Heart Island) is a naturally heart-shaped mangrove island in the Chone River estuary. It is a nesting site for one of the Pacific's largest frigatebird colonies. During mating season, male frigatebirds inflate a red sac on their throats and make loud, clicking calls. Local fishermen expanded the island through their mangrove restoration efforts and have since begun to offer canoe-led tours of the mangrove ecosystem. The island is now recognized as a National Wildlife Refuge and National Heritage Site.
Tours are offered directly through the local fishermen or can be arranged through E Ceibos Tours, Bahia Dolphin Tours (in Bahia) or Guacamayo Tours, with offices in Bahia and Canoa. Tours depart from Puerto Portovelo, a small village on the north side of the Chone River. To arrive from Bahia de Caraquez, take a boat taxi across the estuary to San Vicente. Then, catch a bus or taxi on the "via Chone" (route to Chone). Puerto Portovelo is just 7km up the road. Bus rates average about 30 cents.
Rio Muchacho Organic FarmEdit
They offer 1-3 day tours with activities including horse treck to howler monkey forest and waterfall, making chocolate and coffee from the bean, making necklaces, bowls, and rings from natural materials, and lots more. They also offer volunteer programs for the farm and ecoschools. You can get more information on Rio Muchacho or other tours in Ecuador at their office in Canoa which also sells fair trade items(their Bahia office was closed some time ago).
- Anto's Pizza and Pasta, custom-made wood-fired oven pizza and more (makes also good bread for takeaway);
open Thursdays to Sundays from 18:00; call Doug in advance: +593 (0)98 962 4039 ([email protected]);
Directions: Leonidas Plaza, Calle Principal on the right hand side, Bario San Jorge, (Landmark: 20m al frente Hostal Spondylus => 60m after you have passed the big red and white antenna-tower on the left hand side. Big painted sign on the door)
- Arena Bar Pizzeria - More than just pizza, on Avenue Bolivar near Hotel Italia. The pizza is good, and is popular for take out. There are many other things on the menu. The shrimp in fresh sauce is fantastic at US$ 4.79. The fish in asparagus sauce is also excellent at about the same price. One may dine inside, or sit on the sidewalk and watch the passing people. The owner, Elizabeth, is very friendly and takes great pride in the quality of the food.
- Breakfastplace, Local breakfast - good value for money (2-3USD): fishsoup - on the mainstreet, the first foodstall on the shoreside between Puerto Amistad and the ferryjetty, open 06:00 to 11:30.
- D`Camaron, Delightful al fresco restaurant. D`Camaron is located at the end of Avenue Bolivar, where it intersects the Malacon at the tip of the peninsula. As the name implies, there are many shrimp dishes on the menu, along with some fish and chicken as well. Most menu items are between $3 and $4.
- El Rey del Burrito, 206 Daniel Hidalgo,. "+5" 269-0736. This lovely Mexican Restaurant is located two streets from the bayside at the streets Daniel Hidalgo and Carlos Hurtado (corner). Excellent Mexican food: burritos, fajitas, echilladas, flautas, tacos, quesadillas and much more. The most popular dish is the "Rey de Burrito" which is quite big and very delicious. The owner, Maria Elena de Dueñas, looks forward for high quality food and is very friendly. Home delivery service. Meals between $3 and $10.
- Henrys Sports Bar Nice location and service, good food, good and cheap almuerzo (3,50 USD lunch), good TV's, excellent waffles!!!)
- Puerto Amistad, Malecon Santos, Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador (200m south of the Water Taxi Jetty, Overlooking the Bahia), . Terrific restaurant built on a pier overlooking the bahia; a Gringo Restaurant that attracts locals.
Puerto Amistad serves fine Ecuadorian (soup style) ceviches, cheeseburgers, langostinos (large shrimp - careful, they come heads-attached unless requested otherwise) and, if properly pulled, the best espresso in the area - sadly for coffee lovers, they aren't open until the PM. One of only a couple establishments in Bahia/SV/Canoa that accept credit cards.
Monday to thursday 12-15:00 big menue, 18:00 till late grill menu, Friday and Saturday same hours big menu; normally closed on sundays. edit
- Restaurant Row: Four barbeques adjacent to the ferry landing:. There are four, almost identical, barbeque restaurants next to the ferry landing. Each features charcoal broiled beef or chicken and fried fish or shrimp. Meals from USD 3,00.
- El Rey del Burrito - In this this lovely Mexican Restaurant where you can eat excellent Mexican food (burritos, fajitas, echilladas, flautas, tacos, quesadillas...) you get also good drinks like Margaritas, Tequila and more.
- Saiananda, Av. Sixto Duran Ballen | km 6, Bahia de Caraquez 13020604 (Five minute drive out of town). noon-6. Saiananda is a serene marina and resort just five minutes from Bahia. They have beautiful gardens with a large and diverse collection of birds including peacocks and parrots. They only serve a delicious three course vegetarian meal for $12, but both the food and setting are wonderful. $12. edit
- La Piedra. Severely damaged in the 2016 earthquake. It has been repaired and the lobby and pool area are quite nice. There are several residents in the pool area. It is on the beach and is a beautiful setting. Rooms were quoted at $97-106.
- Hotel Italia. This collapsed after the 2016 earthquake
- Hostel Coco Bongo. Very friendly hostel. The ground floor is devoted to a bar and breakfast room in a garden setting. Up one flight, there is one very nice room with private bath and AC for US$ 30.00. There are several communal rooms with bunk beds and shared bath that cost much less. A very nice balcony overlooks the park. There is a TV in the sitting room. The owner, Susy, is from Australia.
- Ecohostal Bahia. Actualy a bed and breakfast, this place is a slightly upscale little hostal with an enviromental decore. A cool mural is painted on the front of the building as well as in each of the rooms. Prices range from $20 single to $25-35 a couple and includes a gourmet breakfast. Only hostal to include free internet as well as cocktail service in the evenings. Great location next to La Herradura.
- CasaGrande Boutique Hotel (Oceanfront) (CasaGrande), Avda. Circunvalacion 606 and Virgilio Ratti (Oceanfront diagonal to the small lighthouse, great gardens.), ☎ 011 593 99171935 dialing from US, 099171935 in Ecuador, . checkout: 2pm. When visiting and enjoying Bahía de Caráquez and it's magical landscapes, stay at CasaGrande, in comfy and beautiful rooms with a Pacific Ocean view, where you will asset our hospitality and the quality of our service. CasaGrande is the starting point for the trips to all the touristic places Bahía de Caráquez has to offer. A place for a quiet stay, to taste the delicious sea food, to ease your senses at the endless beaches, to learn about archeological sites that speak about a splendorous past and of ancient cultures, to observe fauna and flora with a great biodiversity and to walk through a Tropical dry forest; are some of the activities you'll be able to do in one of Ecuador's most attractive and quiet cities. 6 Rooms, AC, Cable TV, WiFi, Pool, Tour Office, Breakfast included. 60. edit