El Salvador - Impressive

Written by  Michael Schoenberger

LATIN ELSALVIf you have clients who are looking for a destination that can provide sun, surf, nature, culture and great hotels; yet without the crowds of American tourists that despoil much of the Caribbean and Latin America - you can look no further than the lovely country of El Salvador. Your first reaction is probably along the lines of, “El Salvador? Isn’t that the place with the nasty civil war and gang problems?” The simple truth is that the civil war ended 24 years ago in 1992, and much like in U.S. tourist destinations, the gang situation affects the locals and not the tourists. After recently concluding an extensive journey through El Salvador, I can honestly say that I felt just as safe

Natural Beauty
El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, yet its big on natural wonders. First time visitors will be bowled over by the stunning landscapes, complete with smoking volcanoes, surf-pounded beaches, pristine cloud forests and crystalline lagoons.
The volcanoes lend themselves naturally to crowd-free national parks. Parks that include: Cerro Verde, Montecristo, and the irresistibly named El Imposible. Activities can include shooting the rapids on whitewater rafts or taking a lazy boat ride across volcanic crater lakes Ilopango and Coatepeque.
For surfers, Punta Roca is one of the busier places in El Salvador and attracts surfers from around the country, thanks to what the Lonely Planet describes as “one of the best right point breaks in the world.” Punta Roca Surf Resort ( describes the area as “un escondite en el tropico” -- a tropical hideaway. Whichever superlative you choose to describe the area, there’s no questioning its draw for surfers. Beginners can book lessons and rent boards from the resort or along the beach, and sunbathers can take pleasure in watching wipeouts from the gorgeous beach. Punta Roca is 40 minutes from San Salvador, making it an ideal spot for a few days, or just a day trip.
Other sun and surf attractions include stand-up paddleboarding at the famous Intipuca Beach; and water skiing, tubing, wake boarding, para sailing, jet skiing in Playa El Esteron - considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in El Salvador.

Culture and Cuisine
Besides nature and water sports, El Salvador offers an impressive array of cultural attractions. People who appreciate historical culture should visit the colonial towns of Apaneca, Juayua, Panchimalco, and Suchitoto as well as the Mayan sites of San Andrés, Joya de Cerén (The Pompeii of Central America and an UNESCO World Heritage Site). At the Mayan site of Tazumal, the main pyramid rises over 75 feet into the air. The on-site museum showcases artifacts from the Pipil culture (the builders of Tazumal), as well as paintings that illustrate life in pre-Hispanic El Salvador.
For foodies, the typical Salvadoran diet includes lots of rice and beans, seafood (particularly among those who live on the coast), and the most common Salvadoran dish, the famous Pupusa, a round corn tortilla filled with cheese and other elements, usually chicharon (shredded pork meat). Salvadorans also eat fried sliced plantains (platanos), usually with beans, sour cream, cheese and sometimes eggs; yuca con chicharron, pastelitos de carne, panes con pavo (turkey sandwiches), hand-made tortillas, among other very delicious Salvadoran foods. When visiting the coast you should make it a point to try the cóctel de conchas. It is a mix of black clams, lime juice, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and chiles in a spicy black sauce.
If the local cuisine is not to your taste, the restaurant scene in El Salvador is influenced by many different cultures. Food options include Italian, Korean, Japanese, French, Chilean, American, Peruvian, Mexican, Spanish, Middle Eastern, German, Chinese, Argentinian and others. In the larger cities of San Salvador, Santa Tecla and Santa Ana, you can easily find (if so inclined) American fast food chains.
When in San Salvador the trendiest place to find nightlife is the area known as La Zona Rosa, and although it doesn’t cover a large area, it’s home to many exclusive, upscale bars and nightclubs, and the best restaurants in town.

Helpful hints
El Salvador International Airport is in Comalapa, forty-five minutes outside of the capital. The official currency is the US Dollar (since 2001). I suggest that visitors carry only $1, $5, $10 or $20 dollar bills as many establishments are unable to break larger bills.
Hopefully I have whet your appetite to learn more about El Salvador and all it has to offer travelers. Sun, surf, culture, adventures and no crowds - without a doubt, it is an ideal place for you and your traveling clients.



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