Things to do
El Sunzal Walk to the ruin located in front of the surf spot with the endless righthander; El Sunzal. If you’re lucky, you’ll see an old man - also known as Ricardo ‘El Veterano Del Mar’ - busy with crafting shelves. He is a man who can show you some of his ocean treasures and tell you great stories about the history of El Tunco in the meanwhile. A great way to learn something about El Tunco or practise your Spanish skills.
El Tunco Go for a night out and try to move on the great reggaeton, which you'll definitely miss after your Central America experience. Also, drink some special cocktails at surfo's; the travel agency with a secret bar in the back that only opens at night.
Parvularia de la Libertad & pupusas Right in the centre of La Libertad there is a small school called 'Parvularia de la Libertad' full of sweet kiddo's. I've done my internship over here, so if you're interested in volunteering or just curious about education, then please pay them a visit. The sweetest people will open the door for you and give you a warm welcome. This is a great way to get to know more about the local culture. If you're lucky, they'll also teach you how to make pupusas and take you shopping in the main capital: San Salvador.
Ruta Las Flores (known from travel guides) Try to catch a lift to Sonsonate or somewhere close in a pick-up, sit in the back and enjoy the feeling of freedom you’ll get from it! Once you’ve arrived in the villages, enjoy the fresh air, different buildings, and visit the festival during the weekend. It's super cosy and for $3.- you can get a meal made for queens (or kings)!
Volcan Cerro Verde (known from travel guides) If you're interested in volcanoes, or even if you're not, I would definitely recommend this. This volcano is famous for its green lava, pretty amazing to look at if you’ve always seen photos of volcanoes with red lava in your books at school. On top of it, you'll have a great view of Lago de Coatepeque and the rest of the beautiful landscape that El Salvador has to offer. The +- 3 hour hike is not that bad. In the beginning, you'll be walking downstairs for an hour. Halfway, you’ll walk through fields, pass security gates, and begin your 1,5 hour volcano-climb. In my opinion it requires an average physical shape.
Tips for traveling
Experiences I've done some hitch-hiking, traveled at dark, and done a lot of other things that my surrounding told me not to do when I left the Netherlands. The only thing they knew about El Salvador was the news about 300 people being murdered in a month, so I can imagine that they were concerned.
Unfortunately, many prejudices about El Salvador have affected tourism in the country. Most travelers just pass through on their way from Guatamala to Nicaragua and vice versa, but don’t take the time to discover all that El Salvador has to offer. The internet, media, people, and other sources negatively representing the country are the main reason for this. To me, this didn’t matter, as I prefer being in local surroundings and I got to surf empty line-ups. However, it would be a shame for you to not visit the hidden gems of the country because of prejudices and bad media attention.
The news items are not just made up and I take them very seriously, but they might get over-exaggerated. I would like to share the mindset I’ve had while in El Salvador, because it might be useful for you. Basically, I’ve tried to use my knowledge and ability of assessing people in order to make the right decisions. My main advice to you is to stay aware and use your judgement of people to make the right choices.
For three months I stayed in El Balsamo. This is a hostel located in El Sunzal, owned by a Dutch El Salvadorian couple called Gijs & Véronica. For quietness and a long-term stay I would recommend staying in El Sunzal. If you're only planning on staying for a week, you don't mind the reggaeton, but do like to meet a lot of other backpackers and party, I'd recommend to find a hostel in El Tunco.
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