This beachfront port town—everyone calls it Bahía for short—built by the Spaniards in 1624, has a delightful small-town resort vibe, with waterfront restaurants that serve delicious meals of organically grown
shrimp and fresh crab. The Spaniards were not the first, however, to find this peninsula. Members of the Caras people arrived aboard balsa-wood sailing rafts around 1500 BC, and it's believed that Bahía de
Caráquez originally existed as a trading center for shells and crafted ornaments, which were exchanged for gold, copper, and other goods from places as far away as Mexico and Chile.