Beaches and nightlife
Most North American and European tourists visit to seek out El Salvador’s beaches and nightlife. There aren’t a lot of nature-themed tourist attractions such as eco-tours or archaeological monuments that are on offer in other parts of Central America.
Surfing, however, is a big drawcard. El Salvador’s Pacific coast boasts dozens of top quality surfing breaks, particularly around El Zonte, Sunzal and La Libertad. As well as offering world-class waves, you won’t find the overcrowding you’d find in the water in Costa Rica or California.
Santa Ana has more to offer the visitor than it’s neighbour, the capital San Salvador 64km away. Coffee haciendas sprang up around the city when coffee prices went through the roof towards the end of the 19th century, leading to the building of architectural jewels such as the gothic Cathedral of Santa Ana and the Teatro de Santa Ana.
An increasing number of tourists are drawn by El Salvador’s violent past. See seized weapons, combat plans and mountain hideouts. The town of Perquin, once known as El Salvador’s guerrilla capital, is today home to a revolution museum with cannons, uniforms and Soviet weaponry once used by the FMLN’s (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) headquarters.
Stuck out on the Pacific underbelly of the isthmus and surprisingly industrialised, El Salvador is often overlooked by tourists. Despite impressive natural beauty, Central America’s smallest country is still rebuilding from calamitous civil war and there’s little focus on tourism, which suits the purists just fine.