Tucked away in the mountains of El Salvador is one of the most beautiful towns in Central America.
Often overlooked by travelers, Juayua, pronounced “why-YOU-uh,” is a lovely town that quickly captures the hearts of its visitors. If you’re headed for a visit to El Salvador or looking for a new off-the-beaten-path place to explore, here are 10 reasons you simply can’t miss this beautiful town in El Salvador.
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Witness the Bounty of Springtime
In the spring months of April and May, this cool, mountainous region of El Salvador explodes with color as vibrant tropical flowers begin to bloom. The colonial town of Juayua becomes dotted with color and the air fills with a lovely floral aroma. Springtime is the perfect time of year to visit Juayua and enjoy the beautiful flowers.
Explore the Ruta de las Flores
Juayua isn’t the only town in El Salvador that experiences a vibrant floral bloom in the spring. The town is situated along an area known as the Ruta de las Flores (The Route of the Flowers). The Ruta de las Flores is made up of four other small towns that also see an exquisite display of blooms in spring: Salcoatitan, Nahuizalco, Apaneca, and Concepcion de Ataco. Many of the towns have fully embraced their floral reputations, and have begun creating gorgeous, vibrantly colored murals on the walls. The Ruta de las Flores is truly a living art gallery hidden in the mountains of El Salvador.
INSIDER TIPBus 249 runs from Juayua to the different towns along the Ruta de las Flores. Stopping in each town for an hour or two makes a great day trip from Juayua.
Sample El Salvadoran Coffee
While the neighboring country of Guatemala is more widely known for its coffee, El Salvadoran coffee has its own unique flavors and tasting notes. Coffee brewed from El Salvador-grown beans has a reputation for being less acidic and slightly sweeter than coffee from other Central American countries. Because the coffee beans are grown at altitudes between 4,000 and 5,000 feet above sea level, the beans take longer to grow, giving them time to absorb more nutrients and flavor. The best way to taste and learn more about El Salvadoran coffee is to take a tour. Coffee tours from Juayua can be booked from Hotel Anahuac, where an experienced guide will escort you to a local organic coffee farm and you can see the process of harvesting, roasting, and brewing the perfect cup of El Salvadoran coffee.
Hike and Swim at Los Chorros de la Calera
Just a 20-30 minute hike outside Juayua sits an impressive manmade waterfall called Los Chorros de la Calera. Created to generate power for nearby towns, Los Chorros de la Calera makes for a fun, adventurous, and refreshing adventure. The hike to the waterfall takes you through the nearby mountain forest. Sturdy footwear and a good level of fitness are recommended. Once you get to the waterfalls, you are welcome to swim in the refreshing, crystal clear pools, or, if you’re daring enough, you can even climb up the face of the falls and jump into the water below. There is also a small, dark cave that leads to another set of waterfalls, but if you’re prone to claustrophobia, you’re welcome to take the dry hiking trail to this waterfall instead.
INSIDER TIPHire a guide from Hostal Casa Mazeta to take you to the waterfalls and watch your belongings while you swim for only $2.50 USD per person.
Have a Waterfall Rappelling Adventure
If one good waterfall isn’t enough to satisfy your need for adventure, why not join a tour and visit seven? There are many great waterfalls in the Juayua area, but there are seven that make a perfect day-long adventure. Tours booked through Hostal Casa Mazeta last around 6 hours, taking you through coffee plantations and tropical forests, offering stunning views of El Salvador’s mountains and volcanoes. You’ll get to learn about El Salvadoran flora and fauna along your hike, enjoy a picnic lunch, and even rappel 130 feet down the face of a waterfall. Your tour ends at Los Chorros de la Calera waterfall, where you’ll have time to enjoy a refreshing swim before you head back to town.
Taste Delicious Pupusas
Pupusas are a traditional El Salvadoran food that you cannot miss, and Juayua serves up some of the best in the country. Local chefs hand-make these mouth-watering treats by stuffing ingredients like black beans, cheese, chicken, pork, or rice into corn tortilla dough. They flatten the dough out and cook it over a griddle, letting the ingredients get nice and warm inside the tortilla. The best part about pupusas? The price! You can find delicious pupusas in Juayua for less than $1 each.
INSIDER TIPSome of the best pupusas in Juayua come from Pupuseria Esmeralda, on the north side of town. But that shouldn’t stop you from tasting all the different Pupuserias in Juayua.
Escape the Central American Heat
There’s no hiding it: it’s hot in El Salvador. With temperatures in the coastal regions averaging around 90 degrees Fahrenheit, El Salvador travel will test your threshold for heat. However, if you’re not used to that level of heat and humidity, Juayua is the perfect place to visit. Situated in the mountain region, Juayua sees more comfortable temperatures, with highs averaging around 80 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. In the evenings, the mountain air cools to comfortable sleeping temperatures in the mid- to low-60s.
Pig Out at Feria Gastronomica
When you make your plans to visit Juayua, El Salvador, make sure you keep a weekend afternoon open to attend the Feria Gastronomica. This amazing food festival happens every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 pm in Juayua’s city center. The streets are closed off and open tents are set up with dozens of plastic chairs and tables. Vendors line the streets and fire up their grills to serve heaping plates of food to the people that flock to Juayua just to eat. You’ll find many different combination plates of grilled meats, vegetables, prawns, salads, beans, and rice. Juayua’s Feria Gastronomica is a great place to fill yourself to the brim with delicious Central American foods, and immerse yourself in the local El Salvadoran culture.
Travel throughout El Salvador is very affordable, and Juayua is a great town to stretch your dollars. Hotel rooms in Juayua can be easily found for under $50 USD per night, and backpackers will be thrilled to find hostel dorms for under $15 per night. Meals are just as affordable, with a typical sit-down restaurant offering dishes for under $10. If you want to do a bit of exploring, public transportation between neighboring towns will set you back less than $2.
Get off the Tourist Path
El Salvador itself is not a typical tourist destination. Visitors to Central America usually head to the beaches and jungles of Costa Rica, the old UNESCO cities of Guatemala, or the vibrant scuba diving reefs off the coast of Honduras. However, even those that choose to make a stop or two in El Salvador will mostly stick to the bigger cities of San Salvador or Santa Ana, or the coastal surf towns of El Tunco and El Zonte. Juayua is the perfect El Salvador city if you don’t like dealing with tourist crowds or an abundance of tourist attractions. It’s the perfect place to relax and immerse yourself in real El Salvadoran life.