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By No owner — last modified Dec 12, 2014 02:31 PM

 El Salvador - Profile

Facts

  • El Salvador lies on the west coast of Central America, bordering the Pacific Ocean. It is surrounded by Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. It has a diverse landscape of beaches, mountains and jungles.
  • The total population of El Salvador is 6.5 million people with 2.1 million inhabitants living largest city and capital, San Salvador. Spanish is the official language.
  • The currency is the US dollar. For details see General Info.
  • El Salvador uses UTC -6 Central Standard Time. For specifics see General Info.
  • El Salvador has two main seasons: Dry Season (November to April) is arid and warm with little rain. Rainy Season (May to October) is when the risk of tropical storms and hurricanes are higher. See Weather section below for more details.
  • Cruising boats are welcome to stop in El Salvador. There are 3 ports where recreational boats can visit: Bahia del Sol; Barillas; and Gulf of Fonseca, however the first 2 are the best options. La Union, located in the Gulf of Fonseca, is an industrial port and has little to offer cruising boats.
  • Boats travelling in the Gulf of Fonseca are likely to be intercepted, and possibly boarded, by Navy patrol boats who check for proper zarpes. Be aware that 3 different countries border the Gulf.
  • Cruising boats are discouraged by the port officials to arrive in Acajulta because it is a shipping port. Both Bahia del Sol and Barillias have convenient access to major supplies if you can spend a few days to travel to nearby large cities where you can find almost everything you need.
  • The abundant sea life attracts local fishermen and long lines that are common along this coast. The lines may be marked with a black flag and a strobe light, but some have only with a few plastic bottles tied to the ends.

Security

Overall Crime and Safety
Violent crime is a serious problem throughout the country. It includes: homicide, assault, including rape, armed robbery and carjacking and kidnapping

Specific areas of concern:

Road safety: Driving in El Salvador can be hazardous because local vehicles are often overloaded and poorly maintained. Local drivers often ignore traffic rules. Criminals may assault travellers on rural roads. Avoid driving after dark.

Street gangs: The majority of crimes are committed by organized street gangs (maras). While gang culture has spread throughout the country safeguarding measures have focussed on areas most visited by tourists, such as the metropolitan area of San Salvador.

ATM fraud: Be cautious when using ATMs. Criminals observe, follow and then rob victims who have made withdrawals.

Public transportation: Use only reputable tour operators. Do not use local or intercity public buses, these can be mechanically unreliable and passengers are known to be robbed.

Taxis are widely available but get local recommendations for safe options. Do not board taxis at taxi stands, and do not flag taxis in the street.

Maritime Issues:

Some incidents of petty or opportunistic theft, but very few serious crimes against yachts have ever been reported.

Reported Incidents:

The main security issue for cruisers in El Salvador, like in all places, is dinghy theft. It is recommended that you lift and lock your dinghy and motor.

Emergency Numbers:

See General Info for more details.

Last updated:  April 2019

Weather

The coast is hot and humid, especially March to May, and is coolest from December to February. December and March may have spells of continuous rain for 2-3 days or even weeks. Water shortages are possible at other times of the year.

The coast typically has light winds but the southern areas can be affected the Papagayos. These Caribbean winds are accelerated through low gaps in the mountains that run the length of the Central American isthmus. In certain conditions the winds reach gale force and raise large, steep seas on the Pacific side. Improved forecasting now allow cruisers to avoid the worst periods.

El Salvador Weather Forecast.

Report on Eastern Pacific Offshore Waters Forecast.

For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page

Main Ports

Acajutla * , Bahia del Sol * , Barillas Marina * , La Unión *

* indicates port of entry

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