Moon El Salvador (Moon Handbooks) - Jaime Jacques (2014)
Discover El Salvador
The Best of El Salvador
If you have two weeks, you have enough time to get in all the best that El Salvador has to offer. The western beaches of the Pacific Coast are the perfect way to kick off your vacation, enjoying the famous sun, surf, ceviche, and cerveza. The ruins, volcanoes, and quaint, colorful towns of Ruta de Las Flores in Western El Salvador are not to be missed. Although San Salvador gets a bad rap, there are plenty of hidden gems in and around this heavily populated city. The northern part of El Salvador is a welcome respite from the heat, with cool cloud forests and a peaceful hike to the highest point in the country. The wild east is the least frequented part of El Salvador, but an absolute must for anyone interested in the history of the civil war. Finally, the eastern beaches offer raucous surf or quiet untouched estuaries—you choose.
The Pacific Coast: Western Beaches
Fly into Comalapa airport and head straight for the beaches near La Libertad. Go to Playa El Tunco if you want action, or Playa El Zonte if you want a more laid-back vibe. Take a surf lesson or hike to Tamanique Waterfalls. Enjoy the spectacular sunset over a seafood dinner.
Playa El Zonte
Western El Salvador
Take the bus to Juayúa via Sonsonate. This route, known as Ruta de Las Flores, is a pretty, winding road with wonderful views of the surrounding coffee fields and volcanoes. When you get to Juayúa, drop your luggage off at your hotel and then hop on the bus and head to Concepción de Ataco for the afternoon. Stroll the cobblestone streets, pick up some arts and crafts, and enjoy dinner in one of Ataco’s unique restaurants. Come back to Juayúa to get a good night’s sleep before tomorrow’s hike.
Get up early and hike the Siete Cascadas Tour. If it is the weekend, stay in Juayúa for the Feria Gastronómica, the food fair around parque central. If not, catch the afternoon bus to Santa Ana. When you get to Santa Ana, walk around the center of the city and take in the impressive architecture built during the coffee boom of the late 19th century. Don’t miss the beautiful El Teatro Nacional and the Catedral de Santa Ana.
Take the bus to Lago Coatepeque in the morning. Have lunch, enjoy the view of the shimmering emerald green lake, and return to Santa Ana. If you have more time in the afternoon, hop on another bus and head to the Mayan ruins at Tazumal in Chalchuapa.
Get up early and go to Parque Nacional Los Volcanes, home to three of the country’s most noteworthy volcanoes. Climb Volcán Santa Ana, an intermediate hike that ends with the iconic view of a striking green sulfur lake. Come back to Santa Ana to sleep.
view of the crater lake from the top of Volcán Santa Ana in Parque Nacional Los Volcanes
Take the bus to San Salvador. Tour the Centro Histórico in the morning and Parque Nacional El Boquerón, a volcanic complex that opens up into a massive crater, in the afternoon. Have dinner at one of the restaurants on the road that heads toward the park, enjoying an unrivalled view of the city.
Northern El Salvador
Take the bus to Suchitoto. Take a bird-watching tour or hike to Cascada Los Tercios, then check out the Casa Museo de los Recuerdos Alejandro Cotto, an eclectic museum in the home of El Salvador’s most iconic patron of the arts. In the afternoon take the bus to La Palma. Explore the tiny town and buy souvenirs. Sleep in La Palma.
Get up early and take the bus to the trailhead for Cerro El Pital, the highest point in El Salvador. Hike El Pital and return to Suchitoto for dinner and sleep.
Eastern El Salvador
Take the bus to San Salvador first, and from there to San Miguel. Check out parque central and the Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Paz with its red steeples and pretty stained glass. Spend the night in San Miguel.
Get up early to catch the bus to Perquín. Once in Perquín, take the afternoon to check out the Museo de la Revolución Salvadoreña, which documents the history of the country’s civil war. Sleep in Perquín.
Get up early and take the bus to El Mozote and visit the El Mozote memorial, dedicated to the victims of one of Latin America’s most brutal massacres. Then walk to Río Sapo and spend an hour or two in the cool, clean water. Take the bus back to Perquín to sleep.
The Pacific Coast: Eastern Beaches
Take the bus back to San Miguel and then take the bus to the beaches in El Cuco. Check out Playa Esterón for a relaxing day, or Playa Las Flores for a surf day. If you are feeling adventurous, take a boat trip around the Golfo de Fonseca, a relatively untouched area showcasing the country’s natural beauty. Sleep at the beach.
Back to San Salvador
Take a bus back to San Salvador, head to the ruin of Joya de Cerén, or do last-minute shopping at the artisanal market before catching your flight home.