For anyone that is also Los Angeles born and bred, you will understand that when the temperature hits below 60, it’s time to seek sunnier skies. This holiday, I grabbed my boyfriend and my board and headed to Las Flores, El Salvador to ring in the New Year. Below are some of my favorite snaps from our week long stay. Head to Rx Soujorn (or read below) to learn more about my travels (and to check out my favorite brunette’s travel blog).
A quote that reflects your sojourn and El Salvador:
“People don’t take trips – trips take people.” – John Steinbeck
El Salvador in three words:
Diamond in the rough (ok, that’s 4)
Let me be honest with you Rox, El Salvador never made my top ten list (or even top 20) of places I wanted to visit. This trip was primarily fueled by my boyfriend’s itch to get out of LA and into warmer waters. When planning vacations, the (only) important factor in deciding for us is “is the surf good?” Since we already checked Nicaragua off the box last May, El Salvador was the next best (and closest) option. I had a lot of hesitations at first, especially for my safety. And when I told friends and family where I was going for the holidays, their reactions did not help me feel any better about our decision. It wasn’t until we arrived at the San Salvador airport that I started to appreciate the country I was visiting.
The flight from LA (or even NYC for that matter) is a piece of cake: 4 and a half hours from either coast. Upon landing, we had a personal chauffeur from the hotel waiting for us. From there, we hopped in a much needed air conditioned van and headed towards the coast. The drive took around 2 hours, which was teetering on the edge of unbearable especially on the bumpy roads, but well worth the wait. We arrived to open arms and welcoming smiles by the staff at Las Flores Surf Club (LFSC). Our room, which felt more like a luxurious tree house in the jungle, had an premium view of paradise and our own private terrace with a jacuzzi! Needless to say, I was impressed. After spending some time unpacking and getting into vacay mode, we decided to hit the pool and explore the rest of the resort, where we would be spending the next 9 days.
Playa Las Flores is a natural beach cove located on the east coast of El Salvador (just north of the small fishing village, El Cuco), also known as the Wild East. It is a surfer’s piece of heaven on earth. LFSC sits on 7-acres of the beachland and was designed by Salvadorian architect Rodrigo Barraza Dominguez. At any given moment you can go from sipping on a frozen margarita at the swim up pool bar to catching a surf lesson with one of their acclaimed surf instructors (Roberto is my personal fave) to practicing yoga on their private spa deck.
A typical day in Las Flores starts EARLY. The surf gets going around sunrise, so everyone is up and on the beach by 6am, AT THE LATEST. I’m typically not a morning person, but there is nothing better than watching the sunrise over the palm trees from the warm water. After my morning water warmup, it’s time to hit Entre Cocos for breakfast. My morning staple was the post-surf four egg scramble with a side of fresh fruit and a cup of Salvadorian coffee, but trust me when I say everything on the menu is delicious. By 10am, I am stuffed, sleepy and ready for a nap. The hammocks on the property are perfect for this (or if you want to kill two birds with one stone you can nap on the comfy lounge chairs by the pool). In the late afternoon, the surf starts to pick up again and most people head out of another session before sunset. When the sun starts to set, it’s time for yoga on the meditation deck. It is honestly the best way to bookend your day. Nights are short in this sleepy town, so after dinner most people just head back to their rooms, unwind and get ready to rise and repeat for the next day in paradise.
The week went by way too fast and I felt myself already planning my next trip as we made our 2 hour trek back to the airport on that solemn Sunday afternoon. Best advice I could give? Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. This trip was magical in more ways than one, but I never would have discovered its beauty had I not pushed myself a little out of my comfort zone.
Where to Sleep:
Las Flores Surf Club – obviously, I am biased because this is where I left my heart and fell in love, but I would urge anyone interested in traveling to El Salvador to check this place out! This eco-friendly resort holds a maximum of 38 people, so you will be sure to feel like you are on your very own private beach.
Punta Mango Surf Hotel – another popular option for surfers heading to central America, this hotel overlooks the world class surf point break, Punta Mango.
Hotel Miraflores – a surf motel neighboring Las Flores, offering similar amenities to LFSC, but for a discounted price. It also sits atop of a cliff, so your walk to the beach includes A LOT more stairs.
Where to Eat:
Entre Cocos – I am not exaggerating when I say that the food at the Las Flores Resort was 5 star. From the fresh seafood and the tender filet mignon to the organic omelettes and Salvadorian buffet bar (if you’ve never tried a pupusa – it’s a must) I didn’t have one meal that I did not absolutely love. In fact, I loved it so much that this is the ONLY place we ate the whole trip. (Yes, by the end of our 9 day stay I had successfully tried every dish on the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus).
What to Do:
Relax and recharge – bring a book (or three) and lounge on a handcrafted hammock while soaking in the sunshine
Swim and surf your heart out – the water is warm and the tide is low, so don’t be afraid to take the plunge. Surfboards and flippers are aplenty in this neck of the woods
Namaste (here forever) – end your day with a sunset yoga class, your views cannot be beat
Eat like a king – I promise you there is no shortage of deliciousness here
Set sail – every day the locals take their fishing boats out to grab the catch of the day and they are more than happy to have a helping hand when reeling in their dinner!
Where to Shop:
Street vendors – on your way to the beach from the airport there are tons of merchants selling everything from booze to blankets. My personal favorite finds were a handcrafted colorful hammock and a freshly sliced coconut.
The airport (not kidding) – you are not going to find a ton of shops when you are by the beach (and frankly you shouldn’t be wasting your tan time) so my recommendation is to get your shopping fix at the end of your trip. The San Salvador airport has an array of shops run by local artisans that make beautiful hand crafted bags, jewelry and art pieces.
If Nothing Else, the One MUST Do in El Salvador:
Find some wax, grab a surfboard and get in the water.