This little boutique hotel in El Salvador’s charming surf town of EL Zonte lives up to its name. “Palo verde” means “green stick” in Spanish, and the hotel does everything it can to be sustainable, focussing on local products, encouraging local businesses and minimizing waste of resources.
Palo Verde currently has ten rooms. They range from the classic which sleeps two to three guests, a family/friends room sleeping up to five, rooms with a king or two queen beds, plus a honeymoon suite. The more spacious rooms also have a balcony or patio looking out over the pool and to the beach, some with a hammock to laze in.
Rooms are decorated in a minimalist way and feature reclaimed wood furnishings and linens made locally in El Salvador. Cooling options include both air conditioning and a ceiling fan, or just open your windows or patio doors to let in the ocean breeze and the sound of the waves. Bathrooms feature rainfall showers as well as luxe refillable L’Occitane shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and soap (bring your own suncream to combat El Salvador’s powerful sun). One beach and one bathroom towel are provided per person to limit laundry. The hotel also takes a sustainable approach to hot water usage — you’ll need to ask at reception to have the heat turned on for a hot shower.
Dining at Palo Verde is excellent. The onsite independent restaurant, Olor de Mar, overlooks the beach. Chef Carlos Burgos has a delicious menu of fusion cuisine with a focus on El Salvador’s excellent seafood — don’t miss the ceviche. A full breakfast is included in hotel rates. I loved sipping my pineapple smoothie watching the waves crash on the beach and enjoyed both the sweet and savoury breakfast selections.
The hotel has an inviting long infinity pool which draws your eyes out to the surfing waves off their volcanic beach. Relax in the pool’s shallow or deeper areas, on sun loungers with umbrellas, or on the Bali beds looking out to sea. There’s even a set of swings at the bar. Wading, swimming and surfing are possible at the beach too.
The hotel can arrange surf lessons (through Surfero’s Surf School and acclaimed instructor Alex Novoa), yoga classes, Spanish lessons, as well as a massage next to the pool. Palo Verde’s beach is a touch rocky during the wet season (May to October) but very surfable, and the sandy stretch grows in the dry season as the waves calm. The water is always warm. There are caves to explore, a cliff to watch the sun rise behind, and a long beach on the other side of the river.
Pick your time to visit El Salvador’s beaches by the season. The dry season, from November to April, has little rain and small waves. May brings more rain and bigger waves, and can sweep sand away from some beaches; it returns as the rains subside. The best surfing is from March to October with south swells reaching ten feet. Beginners will love the waves from November to February.