La Unión

Around la Unión

Conchagua
is worth visiting to see one of the few old colonial churches in the country, and there is a good bus service from La Unión (No 382, US$0.10). The church was begun in 1693, after the original Conchagua had been moved to its present site following repeated attacks on the island settlements by the English. There are fiestas on 18-21 January and 24 July. There is also
Volcán Conchagua
(1243 m) which can be climbed but is a hard walk, particularly near the top where protective clothing is useful against the vegetation. It's about four hours up and two hours down, but you will be rewarded by superb views over Volcán San Miguel to the west and the Gulf of Fonseca, which is bordered by El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua (where the Cosigüina volcano is prominent) to the east.

In the Gulf of Fonseca are the Salvadoran islands of
Isla Zacatillo
,
Isla Conchagüita
and the largest,
Isla Meanguera
(about 4 km by 7 km). English and Spanish pirates occupied the island in the late 1600s, and international claims remained until the International Court of Justice in The Hague awarded the island to El Salvador in 1992, in preference to claims from Honduras and Nicaragua.

A
lancha
leaves La Union for the town of
Meanguera del Golfo
, on Meanguera. The journey across the gulf is beautiful - tranquil waters, fishing boats and views to the surrounding mountains. The island has secluded beaches with good bathing, for example Marahual (45-minute walk), fringed with palm trees. About 2400 people live on this carefree island, where painted boats float in the cove surrounded by small
tiendas
and
comedores
that serve fish, shark and prawns. The highest point on the island is
Cerro de Evaristo
at 512 m. Launches leave La Unión daily at 1000 but times change so ask locally; the journey takes two hours. It's possible to arrange transport with a local boatman to Coyolito (Honduras) and Isla Amapala, but make sure the price is agreed beforehand. You can travel to Honduras or Nicaragua if you have visited immigration in La Unión first to get the necessary paperwork.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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