Puerto Barillas Jiquilisco Bay, El Salvador

Puerto Barillas, pool, El Salvador
When you visit El Salvador, you come to discover the nature of this small Central American country. Puerto Barillas Marina & Lodge is a nature lodge located two hours from the capital city of San Salvador and one hour from the international airport. It is here that you will be able to explore Bahia de Jiquilisco Biosphere Reserve and discover the hidden gems of El Salvador.

I wish that I’d had more time to explore the largest coastal estuary in El Salvador during my visit to Usulutan and Jiquilisco Bay. With inlet canals lined with mangrove trees and hidden communities such as La Pirraya, there is much to uncover here. The plantation itself is home to spider monkeys – more about that later – four tree houses, six apartments, a marina, restaurant and swimming pool. There are kayaks to rent, bikes to ride and boats available to take guests for bird watching, fishing or, my favorite water-based activity, joining ICAPO a Turtle Conservation program created to support the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative. With trained volunteers on board our boat, we learned about the plight of the Hawksbill sea turtles and helped to measure the endangered turtles, collect information for genetic research and report on their successful and heart warming recovery efforts of these sea turtles on the brink of extinction in Jiquilisco Bay and other parts of the world.

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Kayak photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown
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Hammock time. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

My stay was with another couple in one of six air conditioned apartments. The two story apartment featured a queen bed upstairs and two beds downstairs, each with its own bathroom. Downstairs included a fully equipped kitchen with refrigerator, stove, dish washer, microwave oven, toaster, dishes and silverware, in addition to an outdoor barbecue. There is also a futon sofa on the ground level of the apartment. The rooms are very basic, but the action at Puerto Barillas is not to be found indoors; venture outside to really get a feel for this place!

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Puerto Barillas apartment. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown
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Upstairs bedroom photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown
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Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Rates range from $85. for the tree house on weekdays, $96 weekends to $118 in high season, including breakfast. Apartments rent from $214 weekdays to $236. weekends and do not include breakfast. There is also a convenience store on property for sunscreen, water and various supplies. As always, check the website for current pricing.

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Pancho enjoys his banana. Spider monkey photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

In the morning we ate a traditional El Salvadorean breakfast of eggs served in tortillas, alongside smashed red beans, plantains and wonderful coffee from the local plantation. I, on the other hand, opted for the rich El Salvadorean hot chocolate – delicious. Then we were off to feed spider monkeys! What an experience to watch plantation caretaker Miguel call out to the wild monkeys and watch them swing down from the trees like Tarzan flying madly through the jungle. After our banana supply was depleted we got back in the car and moved onto a cacao tour at San Jose del Real de la Carrera plantation. Here we learned the process of chocolate making and how the beans are dried, classified and roasted before they are ground and made into chocolate.

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Celina Guerra shares cacao. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

If You Go:
Puerto Barillas Marina & Lodge (503) 2675-1131
Carretera del Litoral, Km, 108 & 1/2, Hacienda La Carrera
Usulutan, El Salvador
Central America

Article, photography and video by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Puerto Barillas, however all opinions are my own.