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Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador: The Paradise Peninsula

By Dean LaCoursiere

Summary: After years of exploring Central and South America, LaCoursiere found his paradise - Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador.

Paradise Found - Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

After years of travelling and exploring in Central and South America searching for a retirement location that is warm, friendly, safe, economical, naturally beautiful and above all... a little off the beaten track, I've done it!

I have found such a place -- Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador! It is located just 40 miles South of the equator on the estuary of the Rio Chone. 'Bahia' as it is know to Ecuadorians is a quiet tourist town that primarily caters to the middle and upper class of Quito and Guayaquil that have vacation condos here. The area population is only about 30,000. Don't let the photos of the mid-rise condos fool you, the place has a small town feel. This area is almost completely undiscovered by the rest of the world. Bahia has the lowest crime rate in all of Ecuador, and may be the cleanest as well with daily garbage service.

One may be thinking that because you're on the equator that the weather is hot, sticky, and buggy. But, nothing could be further from the truth -- a pleasant surprise awaits you! Here in Bahia, there has never been a hurricane or tropical storm -- and lightning is extremely rare. Bahia is in a dry tropical belt only about 60 miles wide, there is even cactus growing near here! During what they call the rainy season, we average an hour or two of light rain in the evening per week! The average daytime temperature during these months of December through April is about 85 degrees with moderate humidity. May through November we have very low humidity and daytime temps near 80 degrees. In addition, the daily sea/land breeze pattern means that there's almost always a pleasant breeze. In this area there is a special micro climate caused by the north and south currents meeting. In the off season it is cloudy most mornings and then after a few hours of sunshine the clouds and comfort return. You might even find yourself reaching for a light blanket at night, it's great sleeping weather!

Nowhere else in my travels of 11 Latin countries have I found people so open, friendly, and willing to help. Although they are mostly from very humble backgrounds, you won't be panhandled or hustled like you may have experienced in other more popular destinations. You'll feel safe and welcome walking the streets of Bahia day or night. You'll likely have people trying out their few words of English as you visit. Tour the city on foot in an hour or take one of the tricycle taxis that are a nice alternative to cars. Things to do include going to the local beaches that slope gently into the water, safe for children and the elderly in most conditions with usually only small waves, or beaches with flat water on the bay side of the malecon. Go water skiing in the bay side, sail boarding in gentle steady wind, and of course fishing! 15 miles up the coast in the rustic surfer-town of Canoa there are hang-gliding and surfing lessons available. At times here in Bahia the waves are perfect for long boarding, low and slow! For the ecology minded there are many eco-projects to view or become involved with. Some say this place is 'for the birds' and this is true, there are many eco-tours including a trip to the Isla Corazon bird sanctuary. Not far away seasonal whale-watching excursions are waiting for the adventurous. In all my travel, I have found Ecuador to be the most inexpensive travel destination where you would actually want to live -- plus we use the U.S. dollar here as currency. The prices in the local restaurants, and also the rest of Ecuador, are very low. You can order an almuerzo (set menu lunch) which includes soup, salad, rice, beans, with fish, meat, or chicken, and a fresh juice for $1.50. A large beer (600 ml) only costs $1 in most places. Ecuador is world famous for inexpensive Spanish schools and there is one here as well.

Here I feel it is especially attractive for those on a limited budget or those who what to retire early and enjoy a tranquil life by the ocean. For less than people pay for an RV you could own a house or condominium by or near the ocean. What kind of life can you have in the USA, Canada or Europe on $1,000 a month? Here you would have to think of ways to spend that much! An $800 a month pension or a $25,000 investment in a bank CD or real estate qualifies you for residency -- it's easy! A lot of people become tired with hot tropical weather. Here it is near perfect with air conditioning seldom needed depending on the location and construction of the building you are in. I found in the higher elevations of Ecuador like Cuenca, most older people find the altitude makes them uncomfortable doing even light exercise -- even climbing stairs is dreaded. In Bahia, there are no noisy polluting buses like Quito and very few cars. The land is almost completely flat, which is great for bicycling. You can walk anywhere, too. The majority of people here, like elsewhere in Ecuador, earn low wages even at the professional level. This will insure you a low cost of living for basic things like rent, food, health care and domestic help. To get someone to work for you, expect to pay $6-10/day for laborers/domestic help, and $20-30/day for journeymen level. Ecuador is a county that exports oil -- this is where you want to be! The government subsidizes the price of gasoline -- currently for the last two years at $1.48 a gal.

Bahia was a boomtown in the early 90's until a disastrous El Nino and then an earthquake occurred in 1998. With some foreign help they reconstructed and decided to make Bahia an 'Eco-City'. Now those problems are behind and with the new bridge project I feel the time is right to get in before real estate prices start going up again. Europeans won't believe how cheap it is here with the strength of the Euro vs. the dollar. Ecuador being such a diverse country in such a small area the variety of things to see and do will insure that you will not become bored like many island inhabitants. We are less than 90 mins. from the provincial capital of Puerto Viejo where there are US-style supermarkets and most everything you need including jet service to Quito. Almost the same amount of time takes you to the bustling port city of Manta, the tuna capital of Ecuador and their famous malecon with superb seafood! You can travel here in 8 hours from Quito on the Reina de Camino bus line or fly to Puerto Viejo or Manta in 30 mins. and take a taxi or bus from there. There is a seasonally operated airport across the bay in San Vicente that handles commercial jets. Because of the distance to get here and the lack of luxury infrastructure (sorry, no golf) there is not much international tourism -- just surfers and the backpack set. If your dreams of retirement include budget living by the ocean in a foreign land, this small part of the world merits your consideration.

Drawbacks (or a plus) for some is the fact that there aren't many foreigners living here yet. Cultural activities exist, but are limited. One Australian woman started a hostel and an American with his Colombian wife have a restaurant-bar combined with a yacht moorage. There are a number of 'yachties' that hang out and enjoy what is probably one of the cheapest and safest moorages to be found. For myself, I started a little bed and breakfast to keep busy and meet new and interesting people. I welcome correspondence to answer any questions. I have knowledge of and have seen almost all of Ecuador, ecuadordean@gmail.com.

Please visit my website ecohostalbahia.com.

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About the Author

Dean LaCoursiere has lived in or visited 12 Latin Countries. Fluent in Spanish and familiar with the cultures he is constantly seeking out places less or undiscovered with expats in mind. Finding low-budget retirement locations is his mission. ecuadordean@gmail.com.

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Comments about this Article

Oct 1, 2010 14:52

Checking into a move from US to Bahia Interested in apt. rental, at least for now. Any Idea of prices? E-mail to dbenhart1@comcast.net Thanks

Oct 20, 2010 15:23

Like Guest, I'm also checking coastal areas in Ecuador (Salinas, Puerto Lopez, Manta and Bahia) as my retirement place. I'll visit these places in 2011 for only two weeks and later decide which place I would rent an apt. Please email me the current rate for a furnished apt in Bahia at rmg1115@verizon.net. If this article was posted one or more years ago, please include the current cost of living especially food prices in Mercado and restaurants. Thanks!

Oct 20, 2010 15:37

Like Guest, I'm planning to check the coastal areas in Ecuador specifically Salinas, Puerto Lopez, Manta and Bahia in 2011. I'll visit these places for only two weeks and decide which place I would rent a fully furnished apt. Please let me know how much the current monthly rent and if this article was written one or more years ago, please give me an updated cost of living (2010) especially on food items if you buy it from the mercado or if you eat in restaurants. I'm retired and looking for a retirement place with friendly and peace loving people. Thanks so much!

Oct 25, 2010 12:06

Not sure if Dean is still in Bahia. I have trabelled there as well as Salinas, Quito, Cuenca and Banos. I loved all but Quito due to higher poulation, smog/pollution caused by the city being in a 'bowl' between the mountains, etc.

Nov 11, 2010 11:48

The author has moved from Bahai and the site is not kept current.....

Jan 19, 2011 12:56

Apparently "Dean" no longer lives in "Paradise". Does anyone out there have first hand infco on Bahia de Caraquez? or about the pro's and con's of retiring in Ecuador. If Bahia is anything like what Dean claims, then I am intereted. I am currently living in Cali, Colombia.. don

Mar 3, 2011 22:16

LaCoursiere, I am interested in buying some beachfront property in Bahia, do you know if there is any beachfront property for sale in Bahia. Thanks, Peg pegw28@yahoo.com

Apr 2, 2011 14:39

Hi Dean I am planning to visit Ecuador in October of this year for a month. I am planning on going to cuenca and surrounding areas and then off to the coastal areas, looking for a fit for me to buy property and start my new life. Thank you for the info. val

Apr 17, 2011 11:27

Why was living in Ecuador a huge mistake for Mr. LaCourdiere?

Apr 17, 2011 11:28

Why did he leave?

Sep 21, 2011 10:55

We are looking to retire in Ecuador and strongly looking at the Bahia area. What are the current rental rates for a small home and are the prices you mentioned in the article from 2008 still along the same lines. Thanks Ernie & Marty

Dec 20, 2011 07:24

Great article. appreciate your well thought out words. very helpful. will add to my list of visits for sure. happy holidays.

May 25, 2012 15:34

I am intrested in ecuador for relocating .How do you find the B&B business.

Sep 15, 2012 19:52

Bahias nice More like 4000 populates then 30,000. , the 30,000 would be including all the surrounding areas over a 10 km stretch Its very quiet here, a nice place to settle down.

Dec 5, 2012 17:15

Bahia is a still locale yet it can get utltrey bustling as well depending upon a time of a year. Overall yet it's quiet. It used to have a lot some-more beach a integrate of decades back? yet a goods of El Nif1o a 1998 trembler altered a shape. In Ecuador, distinct alternative places similar to Brazil there aren't which most grown cities by a beach alternative than Manta. I'd contend Manta is a greatest city right upon a seaside as well as which substantially usually has 300,000 people.

Dec 5, 2012 21:20

We are a family of four (children ages 4 & 6) and will be anivrirg in Cuenca about October 26. We'd like to have a furnished rental for just 1 to 2 months within 10 minutes walk of city center for $700/month or less. Available Internet is desirable, of course. We'll be looking for a longer-term rental while there. (We may also be interested in purchasing property but aren't sure of that yet.)How do you charge for helping us find a rental?Thank you.Matt Scherr

Dec 8, 2012 02:28

This is the only way to adapt to living in aoethnr culture go with the flow. I've encountered so many administrative hurdles over the last 3 years living in Paris, but it builds your resilience and you naturally become more resourceful, finding ways to master the system which is meant to cause problems.Connecting with others who have been through similar battles is also essential because they're always willing to help and give their insight which could prevent you from having to encounter the same obstacles.I've also learned that the expat community in Paris is strong and supportive much more supportive than the same group might be if we were all in the States.No matter where you are abroad, things are bound to be different. But the people that STAY abroad and thrive on living outside of their comfort zone end up learning so much more about life and about themselves than those who choose to stay in one place forever.

Dec 8, 2012 13:00

Hello Landys and Gentleman,we are German-Citizen and life in USA.Now we are retired and we want move for Lifetime of a Retirement-Visa to Ecuador.In the beinnnigg we want rent a hous in the near from the the coast or in the near from cuenza.Our idea is a house, unfurnished be couse, we want bring our Furniture over to Ecuador.We think over a house with 3 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom, nice Kitchen, Living, Diningroom and Launfryroom. Also connection for TV-Email and Phone.We like a property witha backyard.We will pay per month between $ 500- up to $ 650.00 per month.Can you send us per Email spezial Offer, then our son's coming over and inspect some property's.We want rent for 5 years with the option for maybe another 3 or 5 years.Thank you for your cooperation.Best regards Christel and Werner Doehre

Dec 8, 2012 15:05

I will not answer any requests for rent prices etc on this forum, quit wasting your and my time and just come there are places in all price ranges.

Dec 10, 2012 17:09

What Dean has written about Bahia de Curaquez is true today as when he wrote it a couple yeras ago. We have lived here for aqlmost 4 years and while costs have gone up a bit, where havent they gone up, we still live on $900 a month. Yes food has increased with lunch now $2 to $3 and dinners from $5 to $8. We still buy a weeks groceries at the fresh food market for under $12 , staples at $20 and meat and fish at $20. We eat well and mostly vegetable and fruits with enough meat and fish to maintain our health. We rented the first year for $150 a month unfurnished, second and third year for $220 a month and now have built our own home. Utilities including internet runs less than $70 a month. I have been away from the forum for a year while building the house but have maintained my book sales , retire Cheap in Ecuador on $30 a day. For information email me at drdonsandersatgmail.com. Glad to be back.

Apr 7, 2013 02:35

Thank you for a great article. Bahia looks like a perfect place for me and my husband. We are living now in USA on the West coast on our sailboat and planing to sail to Ecuador to find a new home. Iva Talacko italacko@yagoo.com

Sep 28, 2016 11:27

What type of fishing may I expect

Feb 17, 2018 21:11

Does anyone have info on kids' activities in Bahia, or more specifically Canoa?

First Published: Jun 14, 2008

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