Gay El Salvador: Local Gay Travel Advice

Gay El Salvador. We had never heard anything about being LGBT in this part of the world. What we found out was very surprising, in a very positive way!

We recently took a 9 day organised tour called ‘Guatemala and Beyond’ which we booked through ST FLY. This took us from Antigua in Guatemala, through Honduras, El Salvador and finished in Nicaragua.

We spent 4 nights in El Salvador and were lucky enough to meet a local gay couple called Pascal and Joaquin who run a successful (and beautiful) hotel called Los Almendros De San Lorenzo in Suchitoto.

gay El Salvador travel advice
Los Almendros

Pascal and Joaquin have been together for 35 years and have been running Los Almendros for 13. They got married 3 years ago in France as same sex marriage is not legal in El Salvador.

Pascal is originally from France and Joaquin from El Salvador. Joaquin was also the Ambassador for El Salvador in Europe.

We found Joaquin and Pascal by typing ‘gay El Salvador’ into google and then ‘gay Suchitoto’. The results showed their hotel being listed on Spartacus and when we looked on the map it was 30 seconds walk from our hotel!

We went across to the hotel and found Joaquin who made us feel very welcome. He invited us back later that evening to learn more about gay El Salvador.

Gay El Salvador
A painting of Joaquin and Pascal hangs in the reception area of the hotel.

Read our short interview below:

Is El Salvador gay friendly? What is the stereotypical view on the LGBTQIA community in El Salvador?

Suchitoto specifically is actually a very open-minded town. The people that live here are very tolerant and know that gay people exist. It’s no shock to them. There are a lot of gay guys around town and also there used to be a lot of lesbians as part of the womens movement.

You will find gay people at all social levels in El Salvador. It was known that one of our former presidents was gay even though he was married.

Everyone in town knows that we are a couple but it is no problem for us at all.

Bear in mind, there is a huge contrast across the country with Suchitoto being one of the much more tolerant places. Take caution elsewhere and do your research.

gay El Salvador travel
Suchitoto is a truly beautiful little town

What changes have you see over the years, whether this be law or attitudes towards LGBTQIA people?

Definitely the younger generation are the ones that are more open to being gay! El Salvador is still a strict Catholic country, and this is more the case among the older generations.

It’s not legal to get married as a same sex couple in El Salvador. However, while this has been brought up, as a country, there are more important matters to address beforehand such as the abortion debate.

There is however, protection in terms of discrimination towards LGBTQIA people which is not something found in other places around the world. This is something that is particularly the case towards tourists visiting El Salvador. 

Is there a gay scene to be found anywhere in El Salvador? Does gay El Salvador exist?

There used to be a discotheque in Suchitoto. You would see anyone there, gay, lesbian, straight, it did not matter. However this got shut down because of the noise late at night. If you want to meet other gay guys though it is easy enough.

San Salvador has your gay bars, clubs and saunas as you would expect since it is the main city. (The Globetrotter Guys: Not somewhere we feel is safe enough to investigate).

What advice would you give LGBTQIA travellers in El Salvador?

You have to remember that El Salvador is a ‘macho’ country. Be careful as public displays of affection or being overly camp may provoke a reaction.

If someone asks are you brothers or friends it is best to say partners instead of husbands because they don’t have same sex marriage here.

gay El Salvador
Do not skip El Salvador!

We can’t thank Joaquin and Pascal enough for talking the time to talk to us! We learned a lot and this made us feel much more comfortable in Suchitoto El Salvador, which was a beautiful place. El Salvador as a whole has some catching up when it comes to tourism, and you do still hear about safety concerns in certain places, but we would definitely recommend going as part of a tour like the one we did which would only take you to the safest places.

It’s worth noting that Suchitoto is one of the safer places, and that attitudes elsewhere in the country can be harsh and in some cases very dangerous. We can only repeat our advice that right now, for El Salvador, the most sensible option is to go as part of a tour.

Take a look at the same interview we did in Belize, it’s an interesting comparison!

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gay el salvador

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This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Sash

    I love how anthropological this is with the interview! Super informative, too. It’s so important to know the expecatations going into the trip.

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      Thanks, we are glad you found it informative!

  2. Sara

    It’s really nice to see places like that, I can’t quite believe how ignorant people can be regarding love!

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      I know – we were so pleasantly surprised by what we found out about El Salvador.

  3. Sonia

    Excellent article. Love the interview and pictures… thanks for sharing..

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      Ah glad you liked it, have you been to El Salvador?

  4. Pau

    Great post this is so useful for the LGBT community you guys are awesome

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      Thanks for the compliment. We are glad you think they are useful!

  5. Suzy

    Awesome article! Such a great idea to get a local’s perspective, definitely really invaluable information. Some really thought-out questions and responses, thanks for sharing!

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      Thanks! The tourist experience and the local experience are two different things so we think it’s important to know the reality and not the ‘rose tinted tourist’ version 🙂

  6. Kylee

    Great post, I love to hear other perspectives of countries. We loved El Salvador, everyone was super friendly #dontskipelsalvador

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      Thanks! We are hoping to have one for most countries in Central America soon!

  7. Alex Trembath

    I’ve never been to Central America and would assume that it would be difficult for LGBT people to travel, as the countries there have an image of being strictly religious and intolerant. It’s really refreshing to hear that it’s not always the case and that things are changing. I hope they sort out the same-sex marriage law soon, though!

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      Yep, we have been pleasantly surprised. Obviously take caution and probably don’t walk around holding hands but we have had no issues 🙂

  8. Lauren

    Still a long way to go but glad that they are not discriminated against!

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      Completely agree. We have to remember some of these countries have bigger political problems to address beforehand so it may be take some years!

  9. Wilber

    This was such a great article, you guys. I am from El Salvador and it’s very nice to know that someone had a good experience here in my country. I encourage you guys to come again and visit the west part of El Salvador, you will find a lot of culture and landscapes there.

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      We do plan to one day!

    2. Sam

      I would say the opposite. I discourage anyone from visiting my country, if they value their lives.

  10. Sam

    Personally as a former local resident I am sad to say and your experience was most likely sugarcoated by the owners of the hotel. El Salvador is perhaps the least accepting country, where less than 10% of the population would not oppose same sex marriage, emphasis on ‘would not oppose’, this does not mean acceptance. It has by far the highest number of hate crimes in the Americas, they go unreported by the government as mean to dissuade the UN and other human rights groups from putting embargoes, sanctions and other limitations to the country that solely depends on remittances from exiles abroad. I do not recommend anyone LGBT, non-christian, or lone and adventurous female travelers to step in the country. I used to live in an upper class suburb in Santa Tecla south of San Salvador, supposed to be the creme de la creme in terms of wealth and education, and witnessed a local “manny” get harassed on a daily basis by neighborhood guards, construction workers, and other neighbors. Ironically it was a German couple with children that hired the “manny”, so many neighbors complained that the Germans were allowing such behavior in their house and in the neighborhood. Beating are not uncommon, and oftenthey are celebrated praised in churches, many religious leaders, Catholic, Evangelical, Latter-day Saints, and even the small Jewish and Muslim community all blame the economic and exhuberant murder rate of the country on homosexuality, they say it publicly in television shows etc.

    Long story short, anyone LGBT stay away from El Salvador. Families stay away from El Salvador. Female Travelers stay away too as El Salvador has the highest femicide rate in the Western Hemisphere.

    1. The Globetrotter Guys

      Hi Sam.
      We appreciate you taking the time to leave such a detailed comment on our post. We strongly value and welcome all thoughts and opinions, especially of local residents.
      It is sad to hear you reporting that you have witnessed a much more negative aspect to how the LGBT community is viewed and treated in El Salvador. Our article is however there to share our own personal experience with our readers, and what we personally experienced was great. It is perhaps worth noting that the majority of the information provided to us was based around Suchitoto in particular, and is in that case perhaps not reflective of El Salvador as a whole.
      We also want to make it very clear that if any of our readers do still want to visit what we found to be an outstandingly beautiful country, then please do make sure to travel as part of an organised tour group as we did. This way, you should not experience any problems or negativity whilst travelling.
      Once again thank you Sam!
      The Globetrotter Guys

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