We’ve had our eye on Pelican Eyes in Nicaragua for a while, but felt like some improvements needed to come into play to make this a true upscale travel lodging option. Also known as Piedras y Olas (Rocks and Waves), this is a San Juan del Sur institution that started out modestly and grew along with the destination.

With an expanding number of villas in the mix as nightly room choices, Pelican Eyes now offers reason enough to stay in San Juan del Sur rather than venturing on to Morgan’s Rock. There are still some obvious rough spots, especially when it comes to service and shuttles, but there are enough other positives to make up for it.

All of the two-floor, two-bedroom casas (houses) and smaller casitas (townhouses) are constructed with the same smooth, whitewashed style as the original hotel. They are airy and expansive, luxuriously outfitted with hand-carved furnishings, locally sewn linens, salto ceramic tiles, skylights, and delightful bedrooms overarched with adobe brick ceilings reminiscent of a Spanish wine cellar. All the units open onto marvelous private patios and porches; the casas have two.

Full gourmet kitchens, with hand-painted tiles, professional cookware, and an assortment of appliances (mixers, blenders, and more) are complimented with tasteful dining areas. Enormous, modern marble and glazed-cement bathrooms have rainforest showerheads and thoughtful amenities.

With two restaurants with a view, pools, and a great panorama of the bay throughout, this is the best place in town to kick back and take it all in.

See our detailed review of Pelican Eyes in San Juan del Sur.

See more luxury hotels in Nicaragua.