Aside from viewing and shopping for artwork, La Palma's other attraction is its close proximity to El Salvador's highest point, El Pital. El Pital is 30 minutes outside of La Palma, rises 2,730m (8,957 ft.) above sea level, and offers an easy 1 1/2-hour each-way hike to the top up a winding fire road. Only the last 20 minutes get a bit steep, and all along the way are great views. The last stretch to the summit is privately owned, and a family monitors the road. So if two guys come stumbling out of the woods, demanding money, don't sweat it: They own the place. The usual fee is $5 to $8, but you can sometimes get by for half that, depending on your charm and guide.
Just before the summit, ask your guide to show you the four-story-high meteor that hit the mountain long before anyone can remember. Risk takers can climb on top of the meteor by walking across a small tree bridging a 12m (39-ft.) drop. At El Pital's summit, you'll find a small, white monument marking the border with Honduras and a radio tower with a guard and vicious-looking dog behind a fence. Like many remote locations in El Salvador, it's not wise to hike up here alone. Your hotel can arrange a guide. To get here by bus, take a moto-taxi from La Palma for $3 to San Ignacio, where you will catch the no. 509 bus toward Las Pilas. After about 30 minutes, get off at Río Chiquito and have the driver point you in the right direction.