When you land in El Salvador, people typically head to the bustling capital city of San Salvador. Yet if you truly want to discover El Salvador and connect with this part of Central America, you’ll head deeper inland. Here you will uncover nature in its natural state, from the mangrove forests to the monkeys in the plantations at Puerto Barillas Marina & Lodge.
There are two types of accommodations at Puerto Barillas; the four person tree house or the family-friendly apartments. The six apartments are able to accommodate up to eight people in each unit, with a bedroom upstairs and one downstairs, as well as sleeper sofas. While the design is simple, the big plus for the apartments is the kitchen, with stove, refrigerator, microwave and outdoor barbecue. I didn’t stay in one of the four tree houses, but they looked fun and are able to accommodate up to four people. All rooms include air-conditioning, as well as access to the plantation grounds, pool and hammocks. Kayaks, boats and mountain bikes are available for an additional fee.
Located between a canal laced with mangrove trees and a rain forest, the Pacific Coast of Jiquilisco Bay offers a vast array of activities for the outdoor-lover. I never did make it for a dip in the swimming pool, but I managed a swim in the warm Pacific Ocean after our encounter with tagging sea turtles with the NGO turtle conservation program known as ICAPO. Take time to stroll the grounds and admire the coconut palm trees and cacao trees on the plantation. If you have time, it is well worth the additional cost to visit the monkey sanctuary. There is also a one hour tour to San Jose Real de La Carrera, Central America’s largest cocoa plantation. This was my first time to visit a cacao plantation and taste the cacao bean in its natural state.
Room rates start at $85. per night for the tree houses and include breakfast. There is an open-air restaurant on property and a small store for necessities. If you have access to a boat or private plane, the lodge has a private marina, as well as a runway for small airplanes. I’m told this location is also an excellent place for sport-fishing and bird watching. Apartments start at $214. nightly, increasing on weekends and high season. Check the hotel website for current rates. You can also compare rates at Hotels.com.
Review and photos by travel writer and nature lover Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Puerto Barillas and El Salvador Tourism during my visit to El Salvador. All opinions are my own.