Looking for the next hot spot to take your family on a cruise? According to El Salvador tourism, the country has seen a whopping 100 percent increase in the number of cruise ship arrivals in 2017 over the previous year, a third of whom traveled from North America. What do these cruisers know that you don’t?
For one thing, the destination offers an entire menu of kid-friendly activities, including volcano climbs, surfing and good old-fashioned beach combing.
Best of all, most excursions are easily accessible from Acajutla cruise port on the Pacific coast. The facility, one of the most modern in Central America, offers a total of three wharves and can accommodate large ships.
“Once a vessel docks at Acajutla, [activities include] … climbing the Santa Ana volcano, surfing at the county’s famous black sand beach, Playa El Tunco, or discovering Panchimalco, one of El Salvador’s colonial cities, all of which are all only two hours or less from the port by car,” said Rhina Reyes, general manager, El Salvador Tourism Board.
A second, lesser-known port, La Union, is located on the eastern coast of the country in the Gulf of Fonseca, smack at the foot of the Conchagua volcano.
There are 25 volcanos in the country — a huge number when you consider the whole country is only about the size of Massachusetts. In fact, El Salvador is Central America’s smallest country, bordered by Guatemala and Honduras. The capital, San Salvador, bursts with a lively art scene and robust nightlife, while the cloud forest at the top of Monte Cristo Mountain offers attractions for nature lovers of all ages.
Among El Salvador’s most popular tourist destinations are two vast national parks — El Impossible and Parque Nacional Los Volcanoes — which contains about 500 species of birds and mammals. Other popular attractions are Ruta de Las Flores, a winding trail past flowering coffee farms and rainforest zip-line sites; colonial towns like Juayúa, with its weekend food festival; Ataco, known for its colorful murals; and Playa El Tunco, a surfing village with black-sand beaches.
As to who goes there, Princess Cruises, Silversea Expeditions, Saga Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises are among the lines adding El Salvador to their ports of call.
Finally, El Salvador is accessible by air via Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport, located about 30 miles from the city center of San Salvador. Non-stop daily flights are available from major markets across the United States.