A Trip to Lago de Coatepeque, El Salvador’s Luxury Lake
El Salvador isn’t a country you associate with luxury. While this tiny Central American country is relatively poor, it is home to plenty of rich people, and a lot of them seem to have houses next to Lago de Coatepeque. That’s not great news for tourists though. Huge sections of the shoreline are blocked off, meaning it’s hard to see the lake a lot of the time. We didn’t let that stop us from exploring — here’s a quick look at what you can expect from a trip to Lago de Coatepeque.
A hotel on the hill
We did some research (on the Lonely Planet website) and decided the best option would be to stay at a budget hostel by the lake. We caught a chicken bus from Santa Ana, which went smoothly until we saw the sign for the hostel flash by the window. We were still a long way from the lake but we quickly got off the bus and backtracked to the hotel. It wasn’t what we were expecting — it seems like the real hostel closed down and this one, with no lake view and located a good 15 – 20 minute walk from the shore, had taken its name. It was cheap enough so we ended up staying there. I forgot the name of the hostel and tried to search for it while writing this article but all traces of it seem to have been erased — at least they aren’t conning tourists anymore.
A Boat trip on Lago de Coatepeque
After getting settled into our room we headed down to the shore of Lago de Coatepeque, ate lunch at a restaurant located on a pier and then booked a $10 boat tour of the lake. The boat took us around the coast to a mansion guarded by tough looking security guards. It turned out to belong to a celebrity in El Salvador. I went for a swim in the clear blue water while the security guards watched on.
Walking around the lake
We decided to walk around the lake towards a small town. It wasn’t your typical lake-side stroll — we couldn’t even see the water for most of the walk. We passed a few friendly locals, stopped for drinks in tiny, barred-up shops and eventually made it to another pier restaurant. We still had a long way to go though, and we were dreading walking up the hill to the hostel. We eventually came to a small town where we hitched a ride on the back of a truck. We were a bit of a novelty to the other passengers; I don’t think they get many foreign tourists in these parts (we didn’t see any others during our time there).
Dinner with a view
We got off the truck near a small group of restaurants with sweeping views of the lake. It was getting late, and we had been told that this area isn’t safe after dark, so we wolfed down our food (after waiting an eternity for it to be cooked), took some photos and then power walked our way back to the hostel, arriving just before darkness enveloped everything.
Our trip to Lago de Coatepeque was a lot of fun. It’s always nice to explore a place that is completely devoid of other tourists and the lake itself is really beautiful. Lago de Coatepeque, like many other places in El Salvador, has so much potential and I’m sure it’ll be firmly on the tourist trail in the not too distant future. I was surprised by El Salvador — the people were the most genuine and helpful locals that I met in Latin America and there are a lot of cool things to see for such a small country.
Would you like to visit El Salvador? Let me know in the comments below!