Lake Coatepeque, El Salvador

Lake Locations:

El Salvador -

Also known as:  Coatepeque Lake, Laguna de Coatepeque, Lago de Coatepeque

Considered one of the world’s most beautiful lakes, Lake Coatepeque is found in a caldera among a chain of volcanic peaks in northwest El Salvador. Surrounded by lush landscape and private beach houses, Lake Coatepeque (also called Lago de Coatepeque and Laguna de Coatepeque) is a vacation paradise waiting for those with a spirit of adventure. Ideal for all water sports, this lapis colored lake is located 25 miles (40 Kilometers) northwest of the capital city of San Salvador and 11 miles (18 kilometers) south of Santa Ana.

Coatepeque Caldera was created by two eruptions, collapsing the mountain peak approximately 70,000 and 50,000 years ago. The last volcanic activity at Lake Coatepeque is believed to have been approximately 10,000 years ago. Today the only evidence of volcanic activity at Coatepeque are small fumaroles and hot springs found on domes (Isla del Cerro, Cerro Pacho and Cerro Afate) at the southern end of the lake.

Lago de Coatepeque is considered a closed basin lake. While no outlet has been identified, some believe water from the lake may be finding its way to an underground river that connects to El Salvador’s Rio Agua Caliente. Part of the Central American volcanic chain, Coatepeque crater sits on the eastern slope of 7,812-foot (2,381 meter) Santa Ana volcano. Forming an oval shape in a northeast to southwest direction, Laguna de Coatepeque measures 3 x 4 miles (5 x 6 kilometers) with a depth of 394 feet (120 meters). Fed by rainfall and mountain runoff, water level fluctuations up to 33 feet (10 meters) have been measured and are thought to be associated with movement along the region’s fractures and fault lines.

History buffs will want to explore two small peninsulas found at the northeast side of the 12-mile shoreline. These features, along with the southern island of Isla del Cerro (also called Teopan), are said to have played an important role in Mayan culture. Archeological findings point to structures being built in worship of the Mayan goddess Ixqueye (Itzcueye).

From the ancient shores caldera slopes rise anywhere from 820 feet (250 meters) to 3117 feet (950 meters) above Lago de Coatepeque. Visitors will want to stop at viewpoints along the two rim roads to photograph spectacular views of Lake Coatepeque on one side or lush green hillsides displaying coffee plantations and sugar cane fields on the other.

While large homes with beautifully landscaped lawns circle the lake in growing numbers, Coatepeque Lake remains a quiet retreat within El Salvador’s department of Santa Ana. With over 400,000 people living in nearby Santa Ana and close to two million people in San Salvador, Lake Coatepeque is attracting people looking for second homes, vacation rentals and real estate properties. From private docks or open lake shores, residents and visitors can enjoy sailboats, kayaks, canoes, personal water craft, or powerboats pulling water skiers. Crystal clear water draws swimmers and scuba divers with lake front hotels offering sunbathing beaches for landlubbers.

Lake Coatepeque is home to a variety of fish including catfish, guapote and zebra fish. On a quiet day you will find local fishermen casting lines from both shore and fishing boats, but if you are a serious game fisherman you will want to head for the coast. From Laguna de Coatepeque you are only an hour away from Los Cobanos, home to the Los Cobanos Coral Reef and a large number of game fish including rooster jack, snapper and Spanish mackerel. If you are up to the challenge, El Salvador hosts an annual billfish tournament drawing international participants.

If you continue exploring outside Coatepeque Lake, you will find Parque Nacional Cerro Verde immediately west of the lake. Along the park’s scenic drives, photographers will enjoy stopping at viewpoints offering exceptional panoramic vistas of Cerro Verde, Santa Ana and Izalco volcanic peaks. Cerro Verde National Park is also a bird sanctuary, providing habitat to over 120 bird species including emerald toucanets, woodpeckers, motmots, quetzals and 17 species of hummingbird.

The cities of El Salvador set a very different pace from Lake Coatepeque. The government of El Salvador recognizes that criminal activity has been a serious problem throughout the country, but on the whole Salvadoreans are welcoming and friendly. If you follow recommended precautions, the cities of Santa Ana and San Salvador offer a wide selection of entertainment from handicraft shops, museums and restaurants to an active nightlife. Enjoy the adventure and come to Lake Coatepeque where you will discover some of the world’s most spectacular scenery, an ancient culture and a renewal of spirit.

Things to do at Lake Coatepeque

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Scuba Diving
  • Birding
  • National Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Lake Coatepeque

  • Catfish
  • Mackerel
  • Rainbow Bass

Lake Coatepeque Photo Gallery

Lake Coatepeque Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 5,931 acres

Shoreline Length: 12 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 2,448 feet

Maximum Depth: 394 feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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