This route crosses the River Chone from Bahía and continues north, along a beautiful coastline and through some pleasant countryside, crossing the equator just before the beach town of Pedernales.
Bahia de Caráquez is on the south shore of the mouth of the River Chone, which empties out into the Pacific Ocean here. It used to be necessary to take the ferry (gavara) across the river to San Vicente on the north bank but at the end of 2010 a new bridge was opened, the longest in Ecuador and pride of the locals. Bus companies don´t cross the bridge so if you are on foot you have to take a taxi or the canoe (panga) which can hold about 10 passengers and runs into the night.
Getting your car on and off the ferry was an adventure which involved plunging down a steep concrete ramp towards the water and then up onto the ferry in Bahia and plunging down onto the beach 20 minutes later in San Vicente. In holiday periods you could be waiting for over an hour to get on board, on a strictly first come first served basis.
San Vicente is a smaller and more laidback/ disorganised town depending on what you want to do there. An earthquake hit in the late 90s and the town has not yet rebuilt its malecon. It has a nice beach and the potential to be an attractive town for tourists, but is not at this moment. There are a few cool bamboo bars on the edge of the beach that can keep you entertained at night. Otherwise there is not much going on in town apart from the trade in fish. The people are somewhat isolated from the country, as the roads north and east along the river are not in good condition and therefore eager to get a bridge built over the River Chone to provide closer links to Bahia. It’s not finished yet.
The real beauty of the area is evident once you leave San Vicente. Following the coast line to where it turns and heads north, you can see a beautiful expansive sandbank which can be accessed by vehicles when the tide is out (spoiling the scene somewhat). You can choose to swim in warm, calm waters protected by the sandbank or on the other side, in the waves that sweep in from the Pacific. Continuing along the coast you pass the tiny settlement of Briceño which also provides access, over a dry riverbed, to a beach, where sunbeds and food are available from a cabaña restaurant.