Travelling to El Salvador

Posted on 06/23/2016 | About Port Hope, Ontario

I recently had the opportunity to visit Suchitoto in Northern El Salvador, Puerto Barillas on Jiquilisco Bay and the country’s sun coast. During my time there I saw nature preserves, heritage architecture and expansive beaches. In my opinion there are a lot of contrasts and while I felt intimidated by the razor wire and presence of guns many of the people in the hospitality industry were genuinely warm. El Salvador has a great potential for tourism in the next decade.

Suchitoto overlooks a man-made lake which carries the same name. Traditional Spanish homes mark the cobble stone streets of this colonial city. During the civil war of the 1980’s the town sustained heavy bombing and many people deserted their homes. The government is now working to revive the area as a
tourist destination by restoring and repurposing these abandoned buildings as hotels and restaurants. While walking the streets we visited the Iglesia Santa Lucia which is renowned for its interior woodwork and saw a woman selling bread from a large basket that was perched on her head. The area also hosts avian tourists: from my terrace at the La Posada de Suchitlán and I saw a variety of birds and insects then during our afternoon tour of Lake Suchitoto we went to a massive colony of egrets and cormorants.

In contrast Jiquilisco Bay is a mangrove wetland which offers protection to a diverse array of species. On my boat trip to the turtle conservation project I saw a crocodile, spoon bills and a tiger heron. Guests staying at Puerto Barillas have the opportunity to discover the bay’s wildlife through boat tours, fishing excursions and kayak rentals. Our group took part in a turtle conservation project that capture, measures and tags Hawksbill turtles. Part of the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative, this project offers visitors the opportunity to participate in their volunteer program .

The Costa del Sol Beach spans a distance of twelve kilometres and is popular with surfers. The evening I was there the water was warm and the waves were great for body surfing but also a little intimidating. This area is located thirty-five kilometres from San Salvador Airport making it a nice stopover point for passengers transiting the country.

Currently the destination has some infrastructure issues: with the exception of the Costa del Sol most tourist areas have poor road access and English is not well comprehended even within the hospitality industry. Personal security was always at the back of my mind: even though a recent customer got a local taxi at the airport I recommend that visitors pre arrange ground transportation before arrival.