El Salvador is changing face. And its people are clamouring for peace and openness to international tourism.
The Central American country wants to get rid of the image of insecurity created in past years.
The government has recently taken strong measures against criminal gangs, dismantling the country’s main ones.
It is not strange to see the army in the streets guarding the most populated places in cities and neighbourhoods that were once considered “at risk”.
As reported by BBC, the so-called repression of Salvadoran gangs of 2022, named by the Régimen de Excepción of El Salvador, began last March as a result of an exponential increase in crime between the 25 and 27 of this same month, when 87 people were killed, murdered attributable to the MS-13 gang according to the government. Since then, 46,000 people have been arrested on suspicion of belonging to criminal gangs.
Is El Salvador safe today?
El Salvador continues to have one of the highest annual homicide rates in Latin America. However, it should be emphasized that the war between gangs has never targeted tourists. Furthermore, as mentioned, after the government has escalated the war on organized crime, the country feels so much safer. So the country for tourists is quite safe nowadays, but you still need to pay attention to which neighbourhood you go to.
My experience in El Salvador.
I arrived in the country at the beginning of the month (August). As usual, I did not have a huge plan. To be honest with you, I opted to travel to the country because the cost of the flight was low, and I was intrigued by this not so blazoned Central-American country.
As soon as I landed, I grabbed an Uber to the hotel in San Salvador. It was on a Thursday, so I thought to spend a couple of nights in the capital before then moving to the coast. I did not have a clue about distances. Well, it resulted that the airport is located like 45 minutes from the city. After crossing the hills of the countryside, we get to the city. You suddenly recognize you get into it for the traffic, something unbelievable; I personally never experimented with such a thing! Once my things were sorted out in the hotel, a small boutique hotel in Urbanizacion Universitaria, I headed to visit the city centre.
Check some travel tips 👉 Here
The centre is typically chaotic, with many people hanging around. Street performers, vendors of all kinds and people gathered in groups in the park singing and dancing. The army boys at the corner of the square are watching with a watchful eye. The pigeons fly over my head and the sun shines strongly on the marbles of the virtuous monuments that rise in Plaza Gerardo Barrio.
With earphones in my ears and a camera in my hand, I visit some of the most famous squares:
- Plaza Morazan
- Plaza Libertad
- Plaza Gerardo Barrio
After hanging around a bit, I stopped to try Pupusa the typical salvadoreño dish. Similar to a stuffed arepa. A little heavy but quite yummy I have to admit.
With my belly filled, I went to the hotel for some rest because the next day I had planned to head to the coast. The following morning, after a typical Salvadorenian breakfast of eggs, cheese and coffee, I went to take the bus towards La Libertad. The bus is Route 102 and costs $2. After a couple of hours, we reached the small fishers village on the coast of El Salvador.
I had planned to stay a couple of nights in La Libertad and then move to Surf City.
The pacific coast of El Salvador is characterized by dark sand and massive waves. The beach is mostly rocky with a few pieces of sand. One of them is El Majahual one of Salvadoran’s favourite beaches. Here you will find many restaurants, hotels and local shops. Another good place not to be missed for an evening stroll, an apéritif or a special dinner is the Libertad pier. Other less touristy and wilder beaches towards the south of Libertad are Playa Costa del Sol and Playa Flores.
After 3 days of visiting this part of the coast, I moved to Surf City a small “Surf Village” just 20 min from la Libertad towards the road re-called the “Road to Surf City”. The intention was to stop here and practice some surf, or better improve my mediocre surfer skills with a few lessons.
What is Surf City?
Surf City is a project led by President Nayib Bukele to attract international tourism by transforming the Salvadoran coast as a destination for surfing.
My time in Surf City.
The days spent here were marked by sun, seawater and heavy evening rains. I spent a week in complete relaxation between a bit of surfing, pc work at the cafe and multiple dives in the pool.
I stayed at the Tortuga Viajera hostal, they offer a private room with a shared bathroom for about $10 a night.
Some recommended places in Surf City include:
Check all the iconic places of the El Salvador coast 👉 Here
Tunco’s beach which is characterized by the gigantic semi-submerged rock overlooking the coast, together with Sunzal, are two of the favourite places for surfers of all nationalities. Here, the best surfers on the continent meet and gather every year, attracted by the majestic waves of the Salvadoran Pacific coast. At this time of year, the tide is high and eats up the beach, leaving only a strip of rocks to bump into the waves. Off the Sunzal the tide is strong and here only the most experienced surfers throw themselves offshore. Meanwhile, on the shore, the instructors explain the basics of the sport to beginners.
As the sun goes down, people sit on the rocks to greet the sun, which slowly hides northwest behind the cliff. The music begins to resonate from the beach clubs, and the day begins to turn into night.
My days here in Surf City went by fast and relaxing. And in general, I really enjoyed my stay in El Salvador. The locals are super lovely and kind and the country has so much to offer. I hope more and more people will visit here, and the country will finally be able to put its past bad reputation aside.