Why You Should Visit El Salvador

  • Date Published: January 25, 2020
  • Last Edited: March 22, 2020
  • Topic(s): El Salvador, Travel, Central America

Your next travel destination ✈️

“El pulgarcito de America” or “little thumb of America” (if you are looking for the exact translation) is how El Salvador is called by many. Our country is so little that it doesn’t even show in specific maps. If we compare El Salvador’s size to Texas, it is 32 times smaller. Texas is approximately 678,052 sq km, while El Salvador is 21,041 sq km. 

I can take my car, from Santa Ana, the west side of the country, and drive to La Union, the east side, in approximately four hours. Take a look at the image below; it will give you a visual representation of how much smaller El Salvador is from Texas.

Due to its size, El Salvador is not recognized by many. You hardly hear anything about our country, and the things that you do hear are mostly negative. Headlines about El Salvador include: 

  1. [icon name=”angle-right” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] El Salvador has one of the world’s highest homicide rates…
  2. [icon name=”angle-right” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Gangs continued in 2018 to exercise territorial control and extort residents in municipalities …
  3. [icon name=”angle-right” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Violent crime is rampant in El Salvador…
  4. [icon name=”angle-right” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] El Salvador continues to be one of the world’s most dangerous countries…

Even if you type in “El Salvador” in Google, some of the top search queries include:

  1. [icon name=”angle-right” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Is it safe to visit El Salvador?

I think that tells you a lot about how negatively positioned El Salvador is worldwide. For someone that was born and raised in El Salvador, it is hurtful to sense all the negativity that surrounds such a small piece of land. I’ve lived in El Salvador for 26 years, and I honestly don’t feel like I live in the most dangerous country in the world. Yes, you have to take precautions and avoid specific areas, but isn’t it like that everywhere else in the world? 

Now, I won’t take away the fact that there are high rates of criminal acts and violence. And yes, there are gangs throughout the entire territory, but let me tell you, that’s not El Salvador’s truth. I’ve worked for American companies since 2015, and throughout the years, I’ve come to meet people that don’t even know what El Salvador is or believe it as a third world country with nothing to offer. 

Under the world’s standards, yes, we might be considered a third world country. In my eyes, this third world country has nothing but the following:

  1. [icon name=”arrow-right” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Educated people with college degrees, most of whom are bilingual.
  2. [icon name=”arrow-right” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Hard-working people that wake up every day at 4 am and go to sleep at 11 pm just to make about $8 US dollars a day and still have a smile on their faces at the end of the day.
  3. [icon name=”arrow-right” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] It has talented professionals that excel in different industries around the world, like Frank Rubio, who was recently selected by NASA as an astronaut and Fernando Palomo, a well renowned ESPN commentator covering European soccer in Spanish. 
  4. [icon name=”arrow-right” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Talented athletes, like surfer Bryan Perez, who recently won the bronze medal in Lima, Peru in the Panamerican games. 
  5. [icon name=”arrow-right” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Beautiful undiscovered places that you can get to in less than two hours.
  6. [icon name=”arrow-right” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Fantastic food that will leave you craving for more every time (those of you who have tried pupusas know what I’m talking about).
  7. [icon name=”arrow-right” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] And above everything, it has happy people that are always willing to give a helping hand. 

With those mentioned above, I can only compare El Salvador to an iceberg; all that negative press is just the tip. Let me uncover what’s hiding beneath the surface with these 10 reasons why you should visit El Salvador.

  1. Its people

A young girl smiles into the camera. This picture was taken by Memo Carcamo in 2019.

Ask anyone who has visited El Salvador what they think about its people; I’m almost 100% certain that the majority of them will say that Salvadorans are warm, welcoming, and friendly people. No matter if you’re in the city or in the countryside you will always find a happy face smiling back at you. El Salvador’s people are happy, even though poverty and violence surround them.

It’s funny to think that every time I go to the bank, Starbucks, or gym, I leave having made two or three friends. Us, Salvadorans, we say hi to everyone, we can start a conversation with a plant. You can see our charming personality when you’re on a plane. Whenever I get on a flight within the United States or Europe, unless I’m traveling with someone, I’ll probably be silent throughout the entire trip. Still, when I hop on a plane to get back home, I have a full-on conversation with my neighbor… every time. 😅

We are not nosy; we are curious and talkative, we’re great listeners too. So visit El Salvador and say hi!

  1. World-renowned coffee ☕️

El Salvador is mostly known for two things, its fantastic surf scene, and it’s coffee. Words cannot express the combination of those two things. El Salvador has won many awards for the best coffee around the world, and most of our economy depends on the export of coffee. 

Next time you’re at your local Starbucks, ask if they have Salvadoran coffee. I promise you won’t regret it. 

  1. Warm and tropical weather 🏝

Unlike most countries, El Salvador has only two seasons, summer and winter, which means dry and rainy season, respectively. We have the same weather of warm temperatures all year long. It’s never too hot or too cold. It does become humid during some months, but it can’t all be perfect, right? 

Our tropical and sunny weather allows us to wear summer clothes all year long and maintain a flawless tan. Suns out buns out, am I right? So if you live in a place where you freeze your ass off, visit El Salvador! You can run away from the winter at any time of the year. If you love the weather of California, you’ll feel right at home in El Salvador.

  1. Amazing food 🍽

The traditional Salvadoran pupusa meal: the pupusa, curtido, tomato sauce and sebada (people also order horchata or soda Tropical). This photo has been provided courtesy of Típicos Margoth. 

When I think about Salvadoran food, all that comes to my mind is Pupusas. Pupusas are the traditional food from El Salvador. They are mostly made of corn and are very similar to a Colombian arepa, usually stuffed with fried beans and cheese, although there is a wide range of types to choose from. 

Pupusas are served with a special tomato sauce on top and ‘curtido’ to the side, which is a type of lightly fermented cabbage relish. I recommend pupusas from Olocuilta, which are on your way to or from the airport. You can even make a stop and take some to go. 

Another popular Salvadoran dish is the elote loco, which is corn topped with ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, cheese, and mayonnaise. We also have tamales, nuegados, horchata, sebada, yuca, I could probably write an entire blog just around food, so I’m going to stop myself here. Stay tuned for the blog on Salvadoran food, because it’s coming soon. 

  1. Rich Mayan culture 

For those of you who are more interested in culture and history, we have about six archaeological sites in our country. The majestic pyramids and ruins will take you back in time to the earlier Mayan, Pipil, and Lenca civilizations that inhabited our lands. 

Before the Spaniards colonized us, El Salvador was the land of respected Mayan kings and warriors. Besides the breathtaking ruins and underground graves, you can also learn from our history by visiting some of our museums. Here is a list of the top 10 museums for you to select. Whether you’re interested in art or history, we have them all. 

  1. Everything is less than 2 hours away 

Being that El Salvador is so small, we can travel anywhere within two hours. I can go surf at 6 am, be back at the office by 8 am, and get a glass of wine with my friends in San Salvador’s volcano by 7 pm (and that is including traffic).

I would say we have everything in the palm of our hands when it comes to distance from one location to another. If you want to stay here in the city, we have a variety of fantastic restaurants, bars, good quality gyms, and unique coffee shops to choose from — all within a 3-mile radius. 

I usually stay in the San Benito area. I can go work from a coffee shop (which we have plenty to choose from) during the morning, cross the street at noon, get to my gym and drive back home after exercising, taking me 10 minutes. 

  1. Surf all year long 🏄‍♀️

Waves and swell all year long, my friends. El Salvador is a world-renowned surf spot. We have some of the best waves in South and Central America. El Salvador is selected to host the 2020 ISA World Surfing Games at La Bocana/El Sunzal this upcoming May.  

Some of El Salvador’s sweet spots are El Sunzal, El Tunco, Tamanique, and Las Flores. Most tourists come to stay at El Tunco, La Libertad because there is a wide selection of restaurants, hotels, and bars to choose from within walking distance. 

Plus, the topical nightlife party scene is something you don’t want to miss. For those of you who have been to Bali, El Tunco has a similar vibe to it with all the beachfront bars and restaurants. It’s time to wake up and surf when you visit El Salvador!

  1. Surreal waterfalls 

Want to find the perfect waterfall for your Instagram picture? We have plenty found all around the country. They are usually a short walking distance from where you park your car, and they’re gorgeous. Some tours will even take you rappelling from the top of the waterfall.

I did it once in Juayua; it’s a safe and unforgettable experience. Some of my favorite waterfalls are El Salto de Malacatiupan in Chalchuapa, Tamanique which is close to El Tunco, Chorros de la Calera in Juayua, National Park El Imposible in Juayua and Cascada de Don Juan in Jujutla.

Don’t believe me? Check out this blog to see detailed information and photos from each of them. 

  1. It has more volcanoes than you can count with your two hands 🌋

El Salvador has around 14 active volcanoes; it’s an insane amount of volcanoes for such a small country. And let me tell you, most of them are busy, and yes, people still hike them. I’m ashamed to say I’ve only hiked the Santa Ana volcano, but it’s one of the most active and tallest ones.

It will take you about an hour to climb up and an hour to climb down, depending on how athletic you are, but it’s a pretty mellow hike. Everyone can climb to the top as long as you follow at your own pace. Don’t let the fact that there are 14 active volcanoes in our country stop you from paying a visit, that’s part of the fun. Besides, we haven’t had an eruption in many years!

  1.  Lakes that change color 


Coatepeque is the most well-known lake of El Salvador so when the water changed color, everyone on social media was going crazy.

Coatepeque is one of the prettiest and most visited lakes here in El Salvador. It used to be a crater that turned into a calderaTake a look at the photo below; it’s not photoshop, it’s real life!

This phenomenon has been happening for the past five years approximately. We still don’t know for sure what causes the color of the water to change, but when it does, it’s a breathtaking view.

Some say that it’s due to the sulfur from the crater, some say it’s the algae, who knows? Whenever the change of color occurs, make sure you bring your camera, and you’ll have an excellent Instagram post to show off to your friends back home.

We hope you decide to visit El Salvador 🌎

We have been named once as the happiest country in the world. I have been able to see why we Salvadorans are so joyful even when things are rough. 

We are surrounded by so much beauty that it is impossible not to be thankful. If you’re looking for reasons to visit a new place this year, make sure you have El Salvador on your list. 

I promise you won’t regret it. 

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