Suchitoto: One of the Best Places to Relax in Central America
Central America can get pretty hectic. From packed chicken buses to the ever present danger of being mugged – it’s not always the most tranquil of holiday destinations. Every now and then you need a respite from the chaos, so if you’re looking for a great place to relax in Central America you should think about visiting Suchitoto, the most laid-back town we visited in El Salvador.
Another Spanish Colonial Town
You’ll see so many Spanish colonial towns in Central America that you might start to get a little sick of them. What sets Suchitoto apart from the rest is the almost complete lack of other tourists. The streets are so quiet and every second building isn’t a craft shop or cafe. People actually live in these houses! Suchitoto has also been really well restored – the streets are clean and the buildings are in great shape, a far cry from some other colonial towns in Central America (I’m looking at you, Leon…).
A Room with a view
What made Suchitoto a great place to relax was undoubtedly the accommodation we ended up with. It had an amazing view over Lake Suchitito, an artificial body of water created by the Cerrón Grande Hydroelectric Dam. We saw lots of birds and butterflies in the garden and we spent a lot of time just hanging out at the hostel, catching up on blogging work and recovering from some hectic chicken bus travel. We stayed at Hostal Lago Vista (we didn’t get anything out of mentioning them here!).
Suchitoto’s locals, as well as most locals in El Salvador, are definitely the friendliest people we’ve met in Latin America so far. People seem to wear permanent smiles and really go out of their way to help you out. One example was something fairly minor, but it summed up the attitude quite well. We bought a bottle of Gatorade from a small shop in town. We’d already paid our money and were about to walk out when the shopkeeper grabbed our bottle and ran over to the fridge. She said that the bottle wasn’t cold enough so she changed it for one she thought we’d be happier with. Another shop keeper drew us a really detailed map to show us where the bank was, because our Spanish wasn’t good enough to understand her directions.
The Town Square
There were armed police everywhere. We were stopped just outside of the town square and nearly got turned away because of my camera. What was going on…? It turns out the president was in town, so everyone was on high alert. We didn’t see him but we were glad when he left and the town became sleepy once again. Suchitoto’s town square is really nice – the cathedral is stunning and there are some nice places to eat in and around the square.
I got sick during our last day in Suchitito – I think the constant pupusa eating finally caught up with me. Pupusas are basically sandwiches made out of corn flour filled with meat, cheese or beans. They are nice but aren’t exactly filled with nutritional goodness. We also downed a lot of milkshakes in Suchitoto – try a chocolate topping shake from Sarita if you get the chance (you can find these stores in Guatemala as well).
A waterless waterfall
We needed a police escort (our 2nd in El Salvador) to reach Los Tercios waterfall, which unfortunately didn’t contain any water. It is still worth checking out though as it’s basically a huge wall of basalt columns. Apparently it’s a way more unimpressive version of the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland – luckily I haven’t been there yet!
Suchitoto is around an hour and half – 2 hours from San Salvador. You’ll need to take a bus from the Oriente bus terminal, which is annoying if you’re coming from somewhere else (we came from Juaya) that drops you at the other terminal. There are a few hotels in town – including one pretty expensive one which we saw from the outside. It didn’t look like it had a view, so I’d definitely recommend the one we stayed at (Hostel Lago Vista). It cost us $25 a night (bargained down from $30) and, apart from the bugs, has been one of the best rooms we’ve stayed in lately. There are only 3 ATMs in Suchitoto and none of them would accept our cards from Singapore. I had to call my dad and get him to transfer some money into my NZ account – so if you’re heading to Suchitoto it’s probably best to get out enough money to cover your stay just in case (if dad hadn’t have come through we would have had an annoying day trip to San Salvador to look forward to).
Have you been to Suchitoto? Where do you think is the best place to relax in Central America? Let me know!