Central America

 - El Salvador

El Salvador – calling all surfers!

El Salvador is the most densely-populated country in Central America with 6,377,195 inhabitants who live in an area of approx. 21,000 km². The country borders on Honduras and Guatemala, and has a 307 km-long coastline along the Pacific Ocean. Talking of which, this is one of the world´s top surfing destinations, with its white and black sand beaches. One of the most popular spots on the coast is La Libertad. Al Tunco and El Suzal are suitable for both beginners and pros alike, and you can take classes (at all levels) if you´ve always wanted to try this sport. There are plenty of other water-sport activities as well to choose from such as water-skiing, sailing, kayaking, windsurfing or plain old swimming if you´re not feeling that energetic. There is a wide range of accommodation ranging from chic boutiques directly on the beach where you can chill out by the infinity pool, to more modest pensions and hostels. For divers, there are also a number of options. In addition to the Pacific Ocean, you might like to try something different and scuba explore the volcanic lakes – Lake Coatepeque or Lake Ilopango.

If that´s not your thing, then perhaps trekking is. Known as “The Land of Volcanoes”, one of the best places to hike is in the Carro Verde National Park. The closest crater to San Salvador is Cerro Verde, a relatively easy 15-20 minute walk, a good one for beginners. If you are a little more ambitious, you can take a half day hike to the highest peak, Santa Ana, where you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the turquoise lake in the crater and the panoramic vistas over the breathtaking scenery around you. Here, in the national park, you may be lucky enough to see the giant agave orchids, or catch a glimpse of one of the 15 species of humming birds. Prefer to drive? You can rent an all-terrain buggy and explore the cloud forests of Apaneca, the local villages or drive out to Laguna Verde (the Green Lagoon).

Some parts of the country are not safe to visit, but an increasing number of travellers are reporting back positively on their experiences. You have to ask yourself whether you have a high or low”security” threshold and plan your trip accordingly.  So how much of an adventure you are looking for?

Capital: San Salvador
Area: 21.041 km²
Currency: American dollar
Population: 6.127 million (2015)
Official language: Spanish

Is it safe to travel in El Salvador?

The country has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, and there is a high level of organised crime due to the country´s location, a transit route for narcotics smuggling. A great deal of the violence in this country originates from streets gangs, despite the fact that a truce was declared in 2012. Petty crime is also a serious problem across the country. Although the risk of rebel groups has fallen markedly, a number of former rebels have joined the street gangs who often use guerrilla tactics. The risk of natural disasters, including hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are not insignificant in El Salvador.

Check with your country´s Department of Foreign Affairs, and travel insurance providers frequently to get the latest updates on the situation if you are considering travelling to El Salvador. The same goes for any other country if you have any concerns about the level of safety for travelers in that country.

Alternative destinations in Central America you might like to consider:

Costa Rica
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Travel inspiration from El Salvador

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