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“Enjoy your time at Balsa”
Review of Balsa Surf Camp

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Balsa Surf Camp
Ranked #1 of 43 Montanita B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Rio de Janeiro, RJ
Level Contributor
17 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Enjoy your time at Balsa”
Reviewed 12 June 2014

Wake up early in the morning and open the door of your room. You have at your disposal a quiver, ranging from 5'2" up to long boards. All of them balsa wood made. The surf break is meters away, with warm and clear water. La Punta has waves from 2 up to 10 feet, with some crowd, but without localism. Just choose your board and go have fun.

Once in the sea you will end up finding Cesar "Rasty" Moreira, surfing with one of his boards. Rasty is a shaper and owner of Balsa Surf Camp. He was born in a village up north and has made already almost 1000 balsa wood boards (#960 is mine). In his surf camp there are 14 rooms, surrounded by an inside garden. It is hard to believe that about 5 years before that place was a garbage dump.

When you've had enough of surfing, you better come back to Balsa and restore your energy. Breakfast is served at 8:30 AM, with 5 menu options. Then you will probably meet Julie, Rasty's french wife. She moved away from Paris, planning travel around the world, teaching french and learning other languages. I can understand why she settled down at the first destination.

Together they built this surf camp in front of La Punta surf break, at Montañita, a famous surfing and partying destination in Ecuador. In the vicinity of their place there is a small expatriate community running their bussiness. The hostel next door offers yoga classes (US$ 8/class) with a Californian instructor. Her husband is responsible for a small craft brewery (Montañita Brewing company) just in front, at the beach, and just besides a sushi restaurant. It is the best point for a beer and sushi in the late afternoon, after the last surf session of the day.

Balsa Surf Camp is located not much more than 600 meters from the center of Montañita, but it seems kilometers away. In the city center, full of hostels, loud music plays non-stop, with young people coming and going and lots of booze. It is the antithesis of what is found in La Punta, where the quality of the musical selection is worth of notice.

For those who do not want to spend all day in this hard life of surfing, sunbathing, eating and drinking, there are several tour options to other beaches and islands in the region. Just ask Julie for help. She fosters a good relationship with local community, in a way they can also profit from tourism, which is now a significant industry for the region. Some years ago they had fewer options to employ themselves, as shrimp farms and fishing. From december until the beginning of may, chileans, argentinians and, obviously, ecuadorians, are the most frequent visitors. In may and june, there are less tourists, but from july to september, it is when europeans come more often. During the national holidays in october and november, ecuadorians, especially from Guayaquil, enjoy the party scene of Montañita.

Rasty witnessed the growth of Montañita along the years, and when drunk boys started to appear more frequently to take surfing lessons early in the morning, he moved away from the city center and built his own paradise. Pragmatic, he knows that the fiesta will end up growing and maybe one day disturb the peace that reigns in his space. Everything in life has an end, including itself. The important is to enjoy it while lasts. Don't loose your time.

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with family
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Helpful?
3 Thank marcioas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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201 reviews from our community

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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (15)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Paris, France
1 review
Reviewed 24 May 2014

We have to say that the place looks just amazing! The garden is wild and decorated with sculptures, the rooms are clean and spacious, and the owner Juju is very welcoming and always looking to improve your stay! A perfect place to stay in family, quiet in comparison to the pueblo (amazingly noisy at night!) and if you like surfing, you are just at the right place!
A must go

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank StephDSebM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Montreal, Canada
1 review
Reviewed 3 May 2014

Love it!

Julie, Rasty, Jonathan made me feel like at home and part of the family; they are amazing!! All the staff is very Professional and friendly. The property is awesome (beautiful garden/balinese style); very clean and beautiful; so unique and inviting; the rooms are nice and colorful, and the food fantastic! Great place to learn surfing.

Fortunately, the place is only a few steps from the beach but a bit further (walking distance) from 'downtown'; wich is very noisy.

I highly recommend Balsa. Can't wait to go back; pretty shortly :)

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled solo
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Helpful?
Thank Joanne G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 April 2014

As three families with 7 teenagers between 13-17, we weren't sure where to stay in Montanita. We found the perfect spot. Booking was fast and easy with Julie and Jonathan, and they were so welcoming when we arrived, we felt right at home. The rooms are clean and the grounds are beautiful. There are two nice common sitting areas, and a movie room for guests to use too. The only tough part was the heat - the rooms were hot when we hit a stretch of 35 degree weather as they only have a fan. The included breakfasts were amazing, and any food we ordered off the menus for lunch were delicious. The location was perfect - out of town so it was quiet, and only a nice short walk to head into town for dinner each night. We really were just steps off the beach, down a little lane way that was easy to access. What a beautiful stretch of beach! The kids surfed for 4 days - the instructors were good and the waves just right. We didn't feel they were in any danger and it was great that they could walk the surf boards out to catch a wave rather than having to paddle out each time.

All in all we couldn't have asked for friendlier, more hospitable hosts than we found at Balsa. It was one of our favorite stops and a great place to wrap up our three week trip. Highly recommend it!!

Room Tip: The rooms up top have more natural light than the ones on the bottom, but the top ones were hotter...
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  • Stayed March 2014, travelled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank Allison F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 April 2014

Hi,

I stayed here March 21-28, 2014.

Julie the host is amazing, probably one of the most involved and caring staff I have come across. Always a smile on her face. The staff is also very polite and helpful as much as possible. I highly recommend their accommodations and services.

* The reason I didn't give 5 star is because I thought the food was a bit dry and considering the closeness to fresh fruits and seafood, I expected a bit more. Regardless, there is a lot of selection around the camp and I know Balsa is updating their menus regularly.

** Bring mosquito spray or some mosquito coils. The camp can't help that they are surrounded by forest. This is a beautiful setting and I wouldn't want it any other way, so not holding that against them. The mosquito's aren't terrible but in the evening, it'd be a good idea to spray a little on you.

*** The van accommodation is really neat. Highly recommended for a single traveler, its super tranquil.

**** Bring ear plugs. This camp is some 15 minutes walk from the town, which is perfect considering how loud the town gets (I would never stay in the "pueblo"). However, towards the weekend, the town pumps their music so loud that you can sometimes hear a beat. Again, its nothing against Balsa, they have no control over a club 10-15 minutes away, its not "crazy loud", but some earplugs is recommended for yourself if you like silence when you sleep.

Bueno, go and enjoy!
Barry

Room Tip: Upper terrace rooms offer a little more solitude thanks to the surrounding "forest"
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  • Stayed March 2014, travelled solo
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Helpful?
4 Thank Bazza416
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Harrison Hot Springs, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 24 March 2014

this Camp/ Hostal is a work of art, the rooms and the gardens are incredible along with a very laid back atmosphere.barely a walk to the best surfing that Montanita has to offer at the north point,very close to all amenities and more and far enough away from the downtown core for restful nights
A la Prochain Julie!!
Marc F

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank Marc F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
York, Pennsylvania
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 February 2014

Julia, Rasty, and Jonathan are the absolute best host! The property was awesome, the food fantastic and the people that work there are the best. If you are looking for an unforgettable surf experience I would highly recommend this place. I can not wait to go back!!!!

SurfinCEO

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank SurfinCEO
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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