Our idea of a near-perfect vacation!
Submitted: January 15, 2013
Stayed: January 2013
My girlfriend and I spent one week at Casa Arbol and loved it. This was our second stay in the Balcones de Majagual development, and we’re already planning the third.
When we arrived in San Juan del Sur, Gabby the concierge gave us a tour of town. We bought groceries at Pali supermarket and a corner store. She then guided us to the property, about 20 min. from San Juan. You do need a 4WD vehicle, since the dirt roads in the Balcones property are steep in places. Also, if you want to visit other beaches around San Juan (Maderas, Hermosa), many of the dirt roads down to the ocean are a little rough.
The house itself is architecturally stunning, and uses local hardwoods in the construction. The open-concept design and extensive windows let you enjoy the beauty of the property. Because the windows are nylon screening, rather than glass, you really feel part of your natural environment - this also keeps the house cool with cross-breezes, even in the heat of the day. At night you hear the cicadas in the trees, and in the morning you will likely be woken up by howler monkeys.
As another reviewer said, with so much open space it feels like you have an iMax screen playing a nature channel day and night. From the house we saw great sunsets over the Pacific, four simultaneous rainbows one morning, exotic birds and hawks, monkeys and two large iguanas.
The plunge pool right outside the front door is great for cooling off after an excursion. The beach is a short drive down the hill - or a 20 min. hike - on a private road through the forested property. (Walking up the hill from the beach could be a challenge for those who are not very active.) The beach is great, and has never been crowded during our two stays at Balcones.
Aside from Pali and the corner stores, you can buy fresh seafood at the public docks in town. We often made breakfast at the Casa and ate dinner at restaurants in San Juan - and would recommend eating at the Pelican Eyes hotel, the Bambu Beach Club, El Colibri, El Mesón, the Hotel Victoriano, and Maurizio’s San Juan Pizzeria (across from the church).
Balcones is not a super-social resort setting - it’s about seclusion and natural beauty, coupled with fantastic architecture. We prefer staying out of town: San Juan is fun to visit, but because it is touristy, it can be a little noisy at night.
We really enjoyed both of our stays at Balcones, and Casa Arbol in particular. We’ll definitely be coming back.
Families with Teenagers,
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