Please take a moment to review Hachette Book Group's updated Privacy Policy: read the updated policy here.

El Salvador Adventure for Outdoors Enthusiasts

Puerta del Diablo offers short but steep hikes that lead to spectacular views.
Puerta del Diablo offers short but steep hikes that lead to spectacular views. Photo © Milosk/123rf.

The rugged, relatively unexplored landscape of El Salvador will keep outdoor enthusiasts happy with plenty of variety and adventure, from hiking through the steep tropical forest of Parque Nacional El Imposible to diving in crater lakes near the capital or surfing the warm waves on the coast.

San Salvador

One of the best things about visiting San Salvador is the outdoor activities that can be found on the outskirts of the city.

  • Parque Nacional El Boquerón offers easy walks around the crater, or tough hikes that go all the way down inside.
  • Puerta del Diablo offers short but steep hikes that lead to spectacular views.
  • Visit Lago Ilopango, where you can spend the day diving in the country’s largest crater lake.

Western El Salvador

The western part of the country is a hiker’s haven, with three national parks and much of the country’s only remaining virgin forest.

  • Parque Nacional El Imposible is the largest and most biologically diverse protected area in the country, with intermediate to very difficult hiking trails, excellent bird-watching, and well-maintained campsites.
  • Parque Nacional Montecristo-El Trifinio is another hub of biodiversity, with a cool cloud forest trail that ends at the highest point in the park, where the borders of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala converge.
  • Parque Nacional Los Volcanes is centrally located with three prominent volcanoes, two of which you can hike.
  • Lago Coatepeque offers water sports, diving, and hiking.

The Pacific Coast

El Salvador’s coastline offers world-class surf. Not into surfing? There are plenty of other activities to keep you busy.

  • The surfing along El Salvador’s coast draws thousands every year, and they are never disappointed with the warm water and right points. The beaches of La Libertad are the most popular, as well as Playa Las Flores and Punta Mango in the east.
  • Hike through the forests of Parque Nacional Walter Thilo Deininger. Its two main nature trails both end at a spectacular mirador.
  • Go fishing around El Sunzal. If you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at surf fishing.
  • Hike to the stunning Tamanique Waterfalls, where you can jump into the pools below to cool off.
  • Take a bird-watching boat tour through the otherworldly mangroves in Barra de Santiago.

Northern and Eastern El Salvador

The remote northern and eastern parts of the country offer a bevy of untrodden natural treasures to intrepid travelers.

  • The Río Palancapa waterfall trek in Suchitoto will not disappoint adventurers who aren’t afraid of getting wet.
  • Far north, the hike through the cool cloud forest to the highest point in the country, Cerro El Pital, is a must if you crave peaceful surroundings and clean air.
  • In the rugged east, ex-guerrillas can guide you from Perquín to the Río Sapo, where you can camp by the river and return the next day.
  • For hard-core hikers, the granddaddy of El Salvador’s volcanoes is Volcán Chaparrastique in San Miguel.

Related Travel Guide