Planning a Trip
By Bus -- From Santa Ana, take bus no. 209 or 220. From San Salvador, take bus no. 201. Tell the driver you want to head to Lago Coatepeque and he'll let you off anywhere you wish along the lake's strip of hotels and restaurants. The ride from Santa Ana takes a little less than 1 hour; the ride takes an hour and a half from San Salvador.
By Car -- From San Salvador, travel west and from Santa Ana travel east along the well-paved Pan-American Highway and follow the well-marked signs to the lake. After reaching the lake area, you'll drive slowly down a winding dirt road along the crater wall to the water. Lago Coatepeque includes only one small section of hotels, so if you get lost, just say, "Los Hoteles?" and locals will point you in the right direction.
Orientation & Getting Around
The majority of Lago Coatepeque's hotels and restaurants are located along a single, approximately 500m (1,640-ft.) stretch of the lake. A dirt road rings the lake and is lined with a nearly unbroken stretch of high, cement walls hiding the lake houses of the nation's wealthy.
The best way to get around this area is by foot; the hotels and restaurants are clustered within walking distance of one another, and some great views can be had by taking a long stroll around the lake. If you are driving, keep in mind that the dirt road around the lake is rocky and best navigated by truck or four-wheel-drive.
You'll need to call a taxi, such as the local company Taxi Leo (tel. 503/2502-2495) in advance to take you to Santa Ana or the region's other attractions, since taxis can't be hailed on the street.
Lago Coatepeque doesn't have a visitor center, so your best source of information will be hotel staff or tour companies such as Santa Ana-based, bilingual, Nahua Tours (tel. 503/7874-8402). The closest national tourist office is along the Ruta de las Flores 1km (1/2 mile) east of the town of Nahuizalco (Km 71, Nahuizalco; tel. 503/2453-1082; Mon-Fri 8am-5pm and Sat-Sun 8am-4pm). You can also call the national tourist office in San Salvador (tel. 503/2243-7835) for info.
There are no bank machines, Internet cafes, or large stores in the area.