Saturday, December 20, 2008

Beach-bumming in El Salvador

We entered El Salvador with the plan to stay in the small town of La Palma near the border of Honduras. With very little information in our guide book, we drove through town looking for a place to stay. We saw a billboard on the way through town that said something in Spanish about cabins and camping. Sounding like an excellent option, we followed the sign and turned onto a bumpy dirt road. We arrived at the place, opened the gate, and asked a woman inside how much camping would cost. She looked a bit surprised, and led us down to a nice building to wait at a table. After a few minutes, a group of nuns dressed in brown robes entered the building and sat down with us. This is when we realized that we had completely misunderstood the sign. We were sitting with a group of sweet nuns who were trying to understand why two people from the United States were asking them how much it would cost to camp on their lawn. We apologized for our intrusion, but the nuns insisted that we stay for some food and drinks. While we ate we talked to them about our trip, and continued to repeat our apology for disturbing them.

Later we did find a place to stay, and the next morning left for the coast. We followed the poor advice of our Lonely Planet guidebook and drove to the highly touted 'undiscovered' area of El Salvador. They were definitely right about the undiscovered part. We spent hours driving through small villages lacking hotels or restaurants. The only hotel we did find looked abandoned and expected us to pay $70 a night, which was ridiculous. We were glad we had our own car, because anyone taking the bus would most likely be spending the night on a deserted beach enjoying pains of hunger as they prayed to baby Jesus that they would make it through the night without being robbed.
We finally came to El Tunco, luckily a 'discovered' small village with a cluster of hotels and restaurants on the beach. Looking out on the water we saw people surfing, and knew we found a perfect spot to kick back for a few days. Kristin found a simple but very nice room with a shared bathroom and kitchen for $15 a night, so we relaxed by the pool, surfed, and watched the sunset while drinking dollar beers at the beach front restaurant. Not a bad way to spend six days.


  1. Will you be passing through Ecuador? If you will we have a large yard where you could park your camper just outside of Quito. A very peaceful place. Let me know if you come through. We'd be happy to welcome you.

  2. Nice to meet you! We just checked out your website, and it looks like our paths will probably be crossing further down the road as well. We will likely be in Ecuador at the beginning to middle of March. The plan is to ship our cars from Panama City to somewhere in Ecuador at the beginning of March, and drive South from there. Given the weather situation in Tierra del Fuego, we hope to stay someplace (maybe Buenos Aires) for a couple of months while we wait for the weather to improve, and then continue our trip starting in November. We will definitely send you an email when we arrive in Ecuador, as we'd love to meet you and learn more about your plans. You might also be interested in some friends we have met on the road - their blog is at

  3. I am a long term ex pat, some 23 years in El Salvador and Guatemala, a bit in Mexico, Nicaragua, CR as well. Drove 800,000 km. in Central America over some 15 years, national plates.
    Nice to meet you on line, excellent bloq, great wiki information, for anyone traveling to Central America, specifically to El Salvador and Guatemala, with or without a vehicle, I add to comments my "Primer for Travel in Central America"
    Our Rain Forest project in El Salvador features camping. I add some websites that will take one off the beaten path.

    Click on

    to read the rest.

    A Primer for those traveling/volunteering/possibly relocating to El Salvador, Guatemala and the rest of Central america for the first time.

    by Donald Lee features photo gallery and travel tour information of every country in Latin America and a good section on El Salvador, in Spanish, English and French, click on El Salvador section

    Another good resource online is the Alfa Travel Guide (English, Spanish, Swedish) based in El Salvador for all 7 Central American Countries, click on

    also in español y Svenska.

    Finally refer them to Roberto's ('El Gringo' en Suchitoto) websites based in Suchitoto, El Salvador, both websites in perfect English and Spanish.

    Roberto s operates a cybercafe, tour operation and hostel in Suchitoto.

    Click on

    My article in English about Cinquera Rain Forest, The El Salvadorian Civil War (1979-1992) Memorials and Museum:

    "An article of mine on Cinquera, a village in Central America (one of

    our pilot projects on Rural Ecotourism/Cultural & Historic sites here

    in El Salvador)" enjoy.

    The 'Really Real' El Salvador we know and love!

    Don't miss this super travelouge!!!!!

    A bit of what you may need to know about traveling to El Salvador for the first time..

    "All The rest is showing up!"


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