Fellow expat Gary Scott has an intriguing article about investing in the excellent beach area known as Bahia, just north of huge port town of Manta.
Unfortunately, AFAIK right now Bahia is pretty much the farthest beach area to reach in Ecuador from Cuenca. It should be soon remedied when neighboring Manta gets improved airport connections…. but untill then, it takes two flights from Cuenca to Manta and the peak travel time (aka weekend flights) cannot really be considered “connecting” flights in that you have to stay overnight in Guayaquil or Quito. A drive to Bahia by private car is about 7-10 hours depending on roads and traffic, add a few hours if going by bus. For fellow North Carolinians, its analogous to driving to The Outer Banks from Asheville along HWY 64 in 1960.
That being said, Bahia ROCKS! Its clean, calm and picture perfect. Its the first coastal city that is more or less “environmentally aware” with hosts of sustainable horticulture, agriculture, and other ecolodge / projects going on in that region. Across the bay in neighboring and burgeoning Canoa, the surf and sun is right for a tranquil getaway that’s hip with the backpackers and surfer crowd. Its much more low key than Montañita to the south.
I truly hope the purported growth of nearby Manta and the new bridge being built across the bay are not too detrimental to the pristine environment in the Bahia de Caraquez, but continual pollution as Ecuador grows is almost inevitable.