The moment of our arrival at La Tortuga Verde could have been directly out of a movie. You know those scenes when someone is trudging through the desert on the brink of dehydration, and they see an oasis of palm trees and waterfalls? That is basically what happened. Except La Tortuga Verde was a real oasis and not a figment of my imagination.
After six hours, on four packed-way-beyond-capacity chicken buses, we were tired, hungry, sweaty and ready to be done for the day. Well, I was sweaty, Chris was barely glistening. I used the last of my energy to lift my 30 pound bag out of the taxi and onto my soaking wet back. We lumbered down a sandy path headed directly toward the beach and stopped when we arrived upon a man spraying hose water onto a pelican.
“Hi guys! I’m Tom. I’m the owner. Just watering our pelican. She loves it. I could stand here all day watering her and she would be happy. Spoiled aren’t you?”
Tom, the owner, is a fast talking New Yorker who built La Tortuga Verde on a dream and the hopes that he could help the environment and community of El Salvador.
Before we had time to even do a 360 around the resort, Tom had taken our bags, informed us that the food here is fantastic because he is from NYC (is that the indicator of great food?) and mentioned that the circus was in town and he would be driving that night if we wanted to go. Then in a flash he was gone and our attention was directed toward a young El Salvador man named Ceasar who knew who I was before I even gave him my name on the reservation.
Ceasar showed us to our room- a well kept and simple, crisp white room with a double bed, bathroom, sufboard rack and porch with two hammocks. A steal for $25 a night.
We put our bags, shoes and credit cards away-because they weren’t needed at La Tortuga Verde-and immediately walked the 200 meters to the beach. That was the beginning of the end for us- we were quickly sucked into the inviting atmosphere and beautiful landscape.
The resort isn’t huge, but big enough to find your own little nook and not have anyone around. They have over 400 coconut trees that keep the grounds shady, and also keep you on your toes, as branches tend to fall on the regular. If you want the sun, step right onto the beach and lay in a lounge chair, otherwise take your pick from tons hammocks and tables perfectly shaded by the trees. There is no reason to leave the resort if you don’t want to (though if you don’t step outside the gates to get some pupusas at least once, you are seriously missing out). The kitchen has a magic bell that you can ring any time of day for service, but you probably won’t need to because someone is always willing and able to help you.
There are a couple of dogs, and of course the pelican who wanders the grounds seeing what she can get herself into. I’m pretty sure I saw her cuddling with Tom on a hammock as well as chase down an unsuspecting dog and bite him!
Even though we did a lot of laying around, there are also a lot of other activities you can do at La Tortuga. Surfboard rentals cost $3 for an hour or $10 for the day. You can also rent boogie boards, pool noodles and floaties. There is an outdoor yoga studio for use at your own leisure, private lesson or group class. There is a mini spa with very cheap facials, massages and manicures/pedicures. Occasionally the resort runs a trip somewhere. During our time a group of 8 went on a full day exercusion to a couple of islands off the coast. Even just walking around is an adventure. We walked to a crazy packed beach (Playa El Cuco) and discovered what it is like to go to a local beach in the summer in El Salvador. We also walked and found some really good food that we wouldn’t have discoveredif we didn’t leave the confines of the resort.
It didn’t take Chris and I long to get into a routine that pushed our planned two days at the resort to eight. Breakfast at La Tortuga restaurant followed by surfing, and reading in hammocks all morning. A 20 minute walk to Playa Esperanto or 45 minute walk to Playa El Cuco for lunch. Some more surfing, swimming, hammock swinging and a naps made up the afternoon. Then dinner at the pupuseria on the street directly outside the resort.
La Tortuga Verde is unique for a few reasons. First, they are a resort that caters to every kind of traveler. From budget dorms to a sprawling multi-room house with private pool. They are also an animal sanctuary rescuing injured seabirds and nursing them back to health, as well as making sure turtles are able to safely lay their eggs. Best of all, if you are low on funds but have plenty of time, you can stay and offer your services to the resort. There were a couple of people volunteering in the garden while we were there, but there are also tons of other opportunities for volunteer work. Another extremely awesome option is a motto I have never seen before: “If you pay for two weeks, you stay for two weeks”. Meaning, you can stay at the resort for 4 weeks and only have to pay for 2!
The week we spent at La Tortuga Verde was pure relaxation. We surfed, layed in hammocks, went on long walks and pressed reset on our travel buttons. We had been on the road for 6 weeks when we made it to La Tortuga. The perfect stop for a halfway mark!
I highly, highly recommend this resort for any kind of traveler. Be prepared to push some plans back when you realize you want to stick around and stay for a lot longer!
Have you ever been to La Tortuga Verde? What did you think of it?