Its a bold statement announcing that you have a new favorite destination but after 18 months of travel I feel qualified enough to say that yes El Salvador is my family friendly destination.
I basically loved El Salvador and I can’t wait to go back. What made El Salvador a family friendly destination for me were the people and how easy it was to get around. I met some of the warmest loveliest people in this Central American country. Once you add the fresh and delicious seafood, incredible nature and unspoiled miles of beach you basically have a perfect family destination. I started my journey into El Salvador by bus from Antigua, Guatemala. There is a very regular shuttle service to El Tunco a busy surf hub with a lively scene of restaurants, bars and cheap accommodation. From here I was picked up by a driver to take me to my absolutely unforgettable airbnb find.
FAMILY FRIENDLY EL SALVADOR, EL ZAPOTE
Staying on El Salvadors own Costa Del Sol and meeting Ana and her family at Bella Ciao in El Zapote was a high point in my adventures. Links are highlighted. I got a full insider guide to El Salvador and what its like to live in this country. Ana and her family run a French language school in the capital San Salvador and have traveled extensively. They taught me so much about the history, food and day to day life I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction. This is what a great airbnb is all about. Genuine human interaction. On top of that I had the most spectacular view of my entire trip. Thank you!
FAMILY FRIENDLY EL SALVADOR, EL ZONTE
Our second stop was the surf mecca El Zonte. A small and relatively quiet part of the coast line. I struck gold here too. El Salvador Surf House. Surfing accommodation has changed a lot since I bunked in a hut let me tell you. I was a little unsure how a solo mum and her toddler son were going to fit into this place but since the owners Dan and his wife Claudia have an (awesome) kid too I thought, well that will work. It did, the rooms are gorgeous, the pool pure luxury and the vibe of course relaxed. Dan has been in El Salvador running a business and surfing for almost 10 years now and he is a great source of local knowledge. His no BS attitude to life is refreshing and cuts through a lot of the “scary El Salvador stories” If you’re worried about where and when to go reach out to this guy.
Thanks to Dan’s connections I got this sweet ride for my next stop.
FAMILY FRIENDLY EL SALVADOR, RUTA DE LAS FLORES
The Ruta de las Flores. I am so glad I had my own vehicle for this. The route is super simple and the roads in my opinion some of the best in Central America. The bus connections are not that great around this mountainous area and there are so many amazing vistas, like this one below and great villages to visit a car is key. Reaching the town of of Juayua was an assault on the senses. I wanted to stop everywhere. Coffee plantations, inland lakes, villages with door to door craft shops. Heaven! The village of Juayua itself is very pictoresque with its fresh mountain air, brightly painted houses and of course the weekend food festival which breathes life into this quiet sleepy village.
The food festival in Juayua really does happens every weekend and is a must. If you aren’t stuffed to the gills then Restaurant R+ R is a must too. The meat here is famous and the food presentation has a lovely creative touch. Stay at the Hostel Casa Mazeta hands down one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in. The hosts here are all lovely from the night staff to the actual owners. The fact there welcome sign was also written in my first language Croatian was obviously a nice touch. We stayed in a private room which had a walled garden and outdoor shower. Magical. Like I said before El Salvador accommodation was awesome.
FAMILY FRIENDLY EL SALVADOR, LAGO COATEPEQUE
– This is a day out for a lot of El Salvadorian family, its close to the city of Santa Ana and is of course a stunning natural reserve.
FAMILY FRIENDLY EL SALVADOR, Termales de Santa Teresa
A fantastic family friendly spot in El Salvador. You can buy both a day pass complete with mud mask or stay here for a longer period of time. The accommodation looked fantastic although we didn’t spend the night. I so wish we had. The day we were there it was relatively quiet and very very relaxing. The pools are both hot and cold and spread out over a very large area so I imagine at its very busiest there is plenty of space for everyone. Oscar loved the submarine and all the landscaping with pebbles and bridges etc. He also loved the ice cream!
FAMILY FRIENDLY EL SALVADOR, NAHUIZALCO
– The village of wicker and tule. If only I had a bigger case I would have done even more damage. As it happens I did enough.
FAMILY FRIENDLY EL SALVADOR, ATLANTIS WATER PARK
– A right of passage I feel. El Salvadorian families love spending time together and this lively park was a great place to people watch and ride some water slides of course!
FAMILY FRIENDLY EL SALVADOR, OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION
I also found the most family friendly bus company in El Salvador Pullmantur. Fantastic air conditioned, double decker buses with wait for it….A child seat! If you have ever spent any more than 2 hours with a toddler climbing all over you on a bus you will love me for this tip. Oscar loved his little domain and I for once could sleep without clutching him on every sharp corner. They even showed Paddington bear. Better then some airline in my opinion.
El Salvador and especially San Salvador gets a lot of negative attention due to its high gang and gun crime rate. My advice is always to read the advice of your countries embassy and of course stay out of areas known to be dangerous. We did not drive in San Salvador alone as I just felt uneasy about getting lost and ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time. However most of the people in this lovely country live in peace and harmony and its a shame that a small minority ruin it for them in terms of reputation. I felt like El Salvador was a breath of fresh air no overdone resorts, no over priced locations and simple well done accommodation in a beautiful setting. My note of caution don’t drive a car low on gas, stations are not as frequent as you think and you may not have as gracious a host as I did who will drive it back to the garage on empty with his brother in tow to save your sorry ass. Thanks Dan, I have not forgotten this good deed although it has made a good story more than once!