El Salvador is strewn with high mountains, dense forests and a striking coastline, so there are plenty of options to get active. Whitewater rafting, bird watching, surfing and hiking are particularly popular, with waves over 10 feet and well-marked trails up dramatic volcanic cones. However, while there is a lot of potential, there are not many tour operators and going at it alone is not a good idea as El Salvador is still rough around the edges.

El Salvador’s position on the Pacific coast makes it a favorite surf spot. The breaks are typically consistent and uncrowded, especially in Las Flores, which is good for beginners and pros alike. Las Flores Surf Club offers lessons and equipment rental. From here you can get to Punta Mango for bigger waves, while closer to La Libertad is El Sunzal. The best waves are from March to October, while the weather is best November through February.

Water sports can be enjoyed on the beaches of El Salvador including snorkeling and diving, although the most fun can be had along the Costa del Sol and La Libertad. There is also scuba diving close to San Salvador in Ilopango Lake.

The best hiking is in El Imposible National Park, an ecological reserve in the west, plus nearby is the more demanding Cerro Verde in Los Volcanes National Park. There are a range of walks for different levels of fitness and local guides are on hand. Salvadorean Tours runs trips to the park, as well as around the town and coast. For a more adrenaline-pumping adventure, consider tackling the Guazapa volcano on horseback with La Mora.

The Peace Route (Ruta de Paz) in the remote Perquín area to the northeast is also perfect for a scenic tour. An area marked by conflict during the civil war today is a relaxing and scenic place to enjoy nature. Eco Petate Tours takes visitors to former hot spots and delves into the history of the area along with stops at swimming spots and waterfalls.

Being lofty and mountainous, El Salvador has exhilerating whitewater rafting and kayaking (both on the coast and volcanic lakes). Many hotels offer guided kayaking trips, while Mango y Mar runs tours of Isla Montecristo and Coatepeque Lake. The Paz River is good for whitewater rafting year round and you can contact Nahuat Tours for more information. They also have mountain biking tours, fishing trips and many other active pursuits. Boat tours are other popular things to do, including a route from the Balsamo Coast from Playa Los Cobanas (northwest of La Libertad) and on Suchitlán Lake.

Visitors looking to see El Salvador’s coffee plantations should consider an Apaneca Canopy Tour near El Imposible National Park with Nahuat Tours. Ride a zip line through the tall trees, at times close to 500 feet up, and take in the expansive grounds.