Lake Coatepeque
Lake Coatepeque

Lake Coatepeque

The basics

One of El Salvador’s best R&R destinations, Lake Coatepeque ticks all the boxes: spectacular scenery, incredible history, superb amenities and accommodation, and a convenient location between Santa Ana and San Salvador. Renowned for its watersports, from swimming to kayaking, paddle boarding, jet-skiing, and even scuba diving, the lake has a relaxed, family-friendly vibe.

Most commonly visited as part of a tour to climb Santa Ana Volcano or Izalco Volcano in nearby Cerro Verde National Park, Lake Coatepeque is accessible by local bus, private car, or taxi. Accommodation ranges from high-end houses on Teopan Island—once an important Mayan site—to budget-friendly hostels on the shores. Some hot springs on the outskirts of the lake make for a great day trip.

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Things to know before you go

  • Lake Coatepeque is a popular leisure spot for Salvadorans and visitors alike.
  • Several restaurants, hotels, and hostels have jetties for swimming, kayaking, and boating.
  • While you can rent kayaks, personal watercraft, and paddleboards on the day, you’ll have to pre-arrange scuba diving as there are no scuba shops on the lake.
  • From the lake, you can organize tours to climb Santa Ana Volcano, visit Mayan sites, or explore the hot springs.
  • There are many accommodation and dining options around the lake to suit any budget.
  • It’s recommended to bring cash, swimwear, and a towel.
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How to get there

Located 13 miles (21 kilometers) from Santa Ana and 39 miles (62 kilometers) from San Salvador, the best way to reach Lake Coatepeque is by taxi or private car. You can also jump on a public bus from Santa Ana, but the ride can be bumpy. You might also have to change in El Congo. Many tours also swing by Lake Coatepeque for some relaxation after a morning of hiking volcanoes in Cerro Verde National Park.

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When to get there

Lake Coatepeque is an excellent spot to visit all year round, though if you fancy trying your hand at watersports, you’re best off visiting on a sunny day. With warm water whatever the weather, the lake is also a popular spot to swim. The busiest times to visit the lake are weekends and afternoons, but with plenty of restaurants and accommodations lining the banks, you don’t have to try too hard to find peace and quiet.

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The formation of Lake Coatepeque

El Salvador is a country built by volcanoes, and Lake Coatepeque is no exception. Once home to a group of volcanoes, the caldera lake sits inside the bowl-shaped magma crater that was emptied during a series of especially violent eruptions, leading to the collapse of the volcano and the formation of the lake. Other caldera lakes in El Salvador include Lake Ilopango, where you can dive into the active volcanic crater and feel the warm water rising from its steamy depths.

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