La Barra De Santiago, El Salvador
What to Do
At certain times of the day, you can find fisherman working the shores at the town of La Barra. The fishermen wait along the shore, scanning the horizon for the perfect moment to throw their nets (circular tirayas) at a passing bait ball. You can see the fishermen at work very early in the morning (around 6am) or in the early evening as the sun is setting (around 5:30pm). Awesome sight!
The organization that runs the turtle hatchery in La Barra is run by 36 women. They collect turtle eggs from neighboring areas and bring them to the hatchery to be looked after until they are ready to hatch. Once they are hatched, the turtles are released into the wild at controlled times free from predators. When we were there, we got to help release a batch of Olive Ridleys, which was totally awesome.
The sunrise we saw in La Barra was breathtaking, like a spreading fireball over our heads. The angle is perfect here because the sun rises in a way that casts a reflection on the beach and the incoming waves, making for spectacular photos. Get up around 5:30am and head to the beach. You won't regret it!
Where to Stay
The only hostel in town is the Capricho Beach House, which is located on a stretch of beach between the town and the point (sometimes referred to as the peninsula or volcan), where the beach and the estuary meet and there is a view of the volcanoes. You can get to Capricho by pick-up ($0.25, 30 mins), though we stayed in town and loved it. In the town of La Barra, there are more restaurant options and more opportunities to hang out with locals. We found a private room w/ private bath for $15 at El Mirador de Antonio across from the turtle hatchery. It is more of a room on a family residence than a hotel. They have 4 rooms. To book ahead, call +503 2420 1536 or email email@example.com, and say hi to Antonio and Rosita for us. The photo is a view of the estuary from Antonio's restaurant.
What to Eat
You will likely be the only one walking along the beach toward the peninsula. To the left will be the ocean, and to the right, an endless stretch of sand. As you near the end of the peninsula (45 mins from where the road dead ends into the beach), you'll see two rooftops to the right. This is Restaurante y Cockteleria Julita, which is nothing more than a thatched-roofed cabana with plastic furniture on a bed of sand. They serve cold beer and fresh seafood. My favorite dish is the ceviche with salsa rosa for $5. The fish is also quite delicious ($5). While you sit and enjoy your meal, you will have a view of multiple volcanoes, the estuary, and you'll be able to hear the waves of the Pacific crashing in the distance behind you.
Not to be overly superlative, but these might be the best pupusas in El Salvador. The secret is the cheese. Itīs not that wet, granulated flan-like shit you get at other pupuserias, but rather properly melting cheese. They offer normal pupusas, as well as seafood pupusas (fish and shrimp). My favorite is the chicharron con queso. Pupusas range from $0.25-0.60. The place is called Restaurante A La Luz. Donīt look for a sign because there isnīt one. The restaurant is located across the street from the only street light in town near Rancho El Paraiso.
From the Sonsonate bus station, look for either a direct bus to La Barra or any buses headed for the border (Cara Sucia). The ride should cost you $0.65 pp and will take about 45 mins. The bus will let you off on the main highway, where you will cross the street and catch a pick-up into town ($0.60, 20 mins). Not sure if the pick-up will take you all the way to Capricho Beach House, but it will drop you off in the town of La Barra.