El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America and also the most densely populated. This makes it a vibrant and multi-ethnic community where the locals know how to relax and have fun!
El Salvador-able street in a local village
Just 270 km (168 miles) at its widest stretch, El Salvador is a petite-sized country with a huge diversity of spectacular views. It is bordered on the northeast by Honduras and on the northwest by Guatemala. To the south of the country is a beautiful stretch of the warm Pacific Ocean. Its capital is San Salvador where about half of the population of over six million live and work.
El Salvador is full of volcanos, with several of them still active! This makes the soil very fertile and my most vivid memory of the country is its beautiful, lush greenery as a result. The country is best known for its fantastically flavourful coffee but also produces many other tropical fruits, flowers and sugarcane. The volcanos and their foothills mean that there is very little flat territory. This means that almost every turn you take offers a breath-taking vista.
Do these keep the growers awake?
El Salvador is nicknamed “Land of Volcanoes”
San Salvador is in the centre of the country at the base of a majestic volcano. It is a modern city with world-class hotels and amenities. There are delicious restaurants catering to every taste. In addition to the Spanish settlers that first came to El Salvador five hundred years ago, there have been successive migrations of Italians, other Europeans and even Chinese!
In fact, my favourite food in San Salvador is Chinese food because it is wonderfully authentic while being made with the freshest local ingredients and just a hint of the relaxed El Salvadoran style. Make sure to try the fish and other seafood fresh from El Salvador’s beautiful Pacific coastline.
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My favourite place in El Salvador has to be Lake Coatepeque (pronounced ‘Coat-a-peck-A), a beautiful volcanic caldera about sixty kilometres from San Salvador. The ride up to Coatepeque winds through lush farmland as it proceeds up the steep side of the volcano. Once inside the caldera, however, the farmland gives way to luxurious weekend homes, hotels and restaurants. Water sports abound in Coatepeque but such efforts are just to build up your appetite for big lazy lunches with friends! When the food and drink are consumed, a customary late afternoon siesta is just the right treatment to remove the stresses from your life.
View of Coatepeque from the “peque”
Surfing is a swell time!
With over 200 km (125 miles) of the pristine Pacific coastline, El Salvador is becoming the
destination for surfers. Strong ocean currents, warm seas and steady winds produce perfect breakers and spectacular curls. The Pacific coast is unspoiled and relaxed. I like to watch the surfers from the beach, preferably with a cold beverage and fresh ceviche!
One note, in case you are surprised: The airport for El Salvador is on some of the only flatlands in the country on the Pacific coast to the south of San Salvador. This means a longish car ride into the city of up to forty-five minutes up and over steep hills.
Taxis and other transport are readily available right outside the door. The airport is modern and has great shopping! Most citizens of other countries will require a visa on arrival but this is easily and quickly obtained at the airport. The weather is warm all year with the average daytime temperature about 30C (86F) so pack light and don’t forget your swimsuit!
I hope you have a chance to visit this beautiful but off-the-beaten-path country. You won’t be disappointed!