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“Beautiful setting, might need an infrastructure upgrade”
Review of Balsa Surf Camp

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Balsa Surf Camp
Ranked #1 of 43 Montanita B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
18 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Beautiful setting, might need an infrastructure upgrade”
Reviewed 27 June 2012

Balsa Surf Camp is absolutely beautiful. The grounds are lusciously-planted and well-maintained and our room (#4) was like living in a beautiful, hardwood treehouse with a lovely balcony with two hammocks and a decent view of the ocean. The breakfast (included in your stay) was delicious--a choice of five various combinations of fruit, eggs, and other sides--and usually lasted us until dinner time. The rooms are clean and equipped with a ceiling fan, which was enough circulation and cooling to keep us comfortable. The hotel is just across a little dirt lane from the beach and very easy to get back and forth (though you might just sink into your hammock and stay there instead). It's an easy walk along the beach into town during the day and a $1.50 or so taxi ride back at night.

My main problem here was with infrastructure. We had several brief power outages, which weren't a big deal at all. However, we were repeatedly without water in the sink, toilet, or shower, including the better part of one night. I will say that because it was sporadic and happened at inconvenient times (late at night, in the morning when we were rushing to catch our bus back to Guayaquil), we didn't really bring it up with Julie as we should have, and I feel confident she would've addressed our concerns as the customer service was generally helpful and responsive, if not entirely warm. I know they are very environmentally-aware and I appreciate that, but there are apparently still some things to be ironed out.

Also of note, the location (decently far outside town but still an easy walk along the beach into the heart of things) is quiet for Montanita, but not actually quiet. You'll still hear music most of the day from the beachfront hotel next door which is somewhat loud in the evening--heck, even the garbage trucks in Montanita broadcast music. It didn't bother me personally, but if you want true quiet, Montanita might not be the place for it.

  • Stayed June 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank babycobalt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (15)
Date | Rating
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English first
Montreal, Quebec
Level Contributor
9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 June 2012

My husband and I stayed at this hotel for 5 days and it was just perfect for our stay in Montanita. One thing we really liked was the location, not directly on the beach but close enough that it would take only 2-3 minutes to walk there. Balsa is also located in a more quiet part of town, the center of the town can get very loud because of the music from the clubs, restaurants, and festivals.

We loved the design/look of Balsa, we really felt like we were in the "surf meca" of Ecuador.

The best part about this place it definitely the service. Friendly, accommodating, and very helpful for suggestions on what to do in and around Montanita.

The only draw back is the price, this is the more expensive accommodations in Montanita. However, the price did include breakfast and lunch or dinner, which was very good!

We really enjoyed our stay!

  • Stayed May 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank TWDCanada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Anchorage, Alaska
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 June 2012

-Stayed at the Balsa Surf Camp for 3 weeks on a package deal. I traveled alone and stayed alone. First time surfing and first time traveling in Ecuador.

-Julie, Rasty, and the entire staff are all amazingly helpful, polite, respectful, and trustworthy. Felt like I was at home the entire time. The overall design of the camp is simply amazing, so much attention to detail and structured with bamboo and many other natural elements, while still being extremely efficient. The architectural design and landscape will blow your mind. It's a 25 second walk to the beach and a short 8-10 minute walk down the beach to town, since you're on "the point" ("la punta").

-Rooms are spacious and comfortable, linens are good, wifi internet, hot water (if you need it) and great water pressure, space to hang and put clothes away. Didn't have any problems with mosquitoes or flies (never even used the bug net, included with the room). If you like a fan to fall asleep to, there's a fan in the room. AND the best part...you should sleep like a baby cuz you're away from all the loud music and clubs in town.

- Balsa Surf Cafe surprisingly had the best food that I had tasted during my 3 week stay in Montanita. Simply put: fresh and homemade (from scratch) food was never bland, and was very filling too. My favorite dish was the Espagueti de camarones en salsa roja (spaghetti with shrimp in the best-ever marinara sauce) I ate this meal lunch and dinner for probably a week straight.

-Surf lessons: First time surfer. I took 8 lessons and my instructor (Eusebio) had me up and surfing in know time. He made the steps simple and easy to understand and his critiquing was very helpful. I've been a snowboarder for yrs and surfing was much more difficult to learn but the reward of riding a wave was just as great as riding down the backcountry or jumpin a huge kicker, on a mountain.

-Expeditions: Julie and Rasty will make accommodations for you to go on expeditions (i.e. a trek in the jungle, fishing, snorkeling, etc) and they'll work around your schedule, or you can "go with the flow" like I did and when Julie, or Rasty, asked if I wanted to do this or that, I just said "Yes, that sounds awesome, lets do it!". If you go spearfishing on the skiff(boat) and you forgot you're sea legs, or dont have any, bring something for motion sickness. I found that out the hard way, but honestly it was still a great time.

-Final Notes: met some great people, made new friends, snoozed in the hammocks, watch movies and relaxed up in the cinema, walked the huge tropical garden, ate some of the best food that I've ever had in my life, accomplished a lifelong dream (surfing).

IN THE END, I WANTED TO MOVE IN AND MAKE IT MY NEW HOME.

Room Tip: Recommend a top floor room. Point being, less noise! From the guests who may be rooming above you.
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  • Stayed May 2012, travelled solo
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Helpful?
2 Thank Jake-Koz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Durham, New Hampshire
Level Contributor
14 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 May 2012

This place is excellent! I decided to go here with relaxation and learning to surf as my primary objectives, and it turned out to be an excellent decision. The hotel itself is great. Super relaxing atmosphere, great food in the cafe, and a wonderful and extremely friendly staff. Julie and Rasty (the owners) were incredibly friendly and made the whole experience of staying there so great. I was traveling solo, but managed to meet some great people who were also there to learn to surf. The location is pretty quiet, since it is a short walk down the beach from the all of the noisy clubs etc in town. Those are easy to get to from Balsa if you are into that kind of thing though. As for the surfing, you are literally less than a 2 minute walk from a great break. The Instructor was awesome in terms of being both a great instructor and a fun guy to hang out with. The Balsa boards are the icing on the cake, functional works of art that it are a pleasure to ride (or try to ride in my case :). Even if you have no interest in surfing, the owners can set up a number of local excursions for fishing, hiking, etc. Great food, great surf, great people, great place to stay. Go there!!!!!

Room Tip: Maybe look for a room upstairs if footsteps above bother you while trying to sleep. Not the fault o...
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  • Stayed May 2012, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank fred-locks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Isla Holbox Quintana Roo
Level Contributor
120 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 April 2012

We took our daughter here over Easter so she could learn to Surf! She was NOT Dissapointed! The Instructors were EXCELLENT..........Caring & very personable. Julie The owner took care of everything! The Restaurant onsite served some Great Food! (Tryu the Shrimp Spageheti) Mummm good &a HUGE Plate w/ mounds of Fresh Succulent Shrimp! Rooms are outstanding Fresh & Airy! We'll BE BACK!!!!

  • Stayed April 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Whale Shark D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Level Contributor
354 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 143 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 April 2012

The best place to stay in Montañitas. It' s located to few meters from the surf spot en La Punta. The rooms are nice and clean, the breakfasts delicious, the staff helpful and also you can eat there and also the food is excellent. I super recommend it!!

  • Stayed April 2012, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Chivi G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Prague, Czech Republic
Level Contributor
19 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 March 2012

First of all one thing that I was not satisfied with - I tried to book a room about 3 months in advance, sent 3 e-mails but never received an answer. So maybe some IT bug? But we did not give up and after our arrival to Montanita we tried to find out if Balsa has some available room and voila - one last room was available for 5 nights.
And now only positives - the owners, Julie and Rasty - are really nice and helpful, smiling all the time and caring about our comfort. The complex looks and feels like a piece of eden - beautiful garden with spacious bamboo buildings and very well ventilated rooms. Our room was the top (well it also cost 90USD per night so it had to be). 2 balconies, one with an ocean view and one with a hammock, open roof for a good ventilation, king size bed, a lot of space. Hot water and wi-fi all day. Great place to relax after a surf session.
Food (both breakfast and dinners) in a hotel reastaurant was delicious and food portions were huge (breakfast was often enough for a lunch as well).
Surf point was less than one minute walking, u do not have to take anything else than your surfboard and go to the beach. Also u can rent one of Rasta's boards, which are soooo beautiful and a great quality. We also took one surf lesson provided by Balsa and the intructor (Eusebio) was awesome. The lesson gave us so much.
Walking to village along the beach takes about 10 minutes, so you are close enough but still far from all the noise.
The only problem we had was that 2 nights out of 5 there was a party in a beach bar nearby and the music, that u can hear easily through bamboo walls was on loud untill early morning. Otherwise we slept like babies in our comfortable bed (mosquito nets provided).
I woud definitely recommend Balsa to everyone who want to stay in Montanita to enjoy great surf but not to party every night until dusk. The best place to relax.

  • Stayed March 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Nikaot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Balsa Surf Camp

Property: Balsa Surf Camp
Address: at the Point (En la Punta), Montanita, Ecuador
Region: Ecuador > Santa Elena Province > Montanita
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 43 B&Bs / Inns in Montanita
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:3 star — Balsa Surf Camp 3*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Discover our BALSA SURF CAMP in Montanita, Ecuador, made by and for surfers! The perfect place to discover a country and its waves, its culture and the wonderful art of balsa wood boards shaped by César Moreira, owner of the camp. It is a reconciliation, a union with nature. Imagine! Surfing a tree! Discover our beautiful style of Ecological bungalows only 30 meters from the surf! There are handcraft built by local carpenters using bamboo and wood. In a friendly environment you will enjoy the Montanita surf! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Balsa Surf Camp Hotel Montanita

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