El Salvador is home to some of Central America’s most stunning—and secluded—beaches. Here are three of our favourite areas to check out, before they catch on!
With 320 kilometres of Pacific Ocean coastline, El Salvador boasts some breathtaking golden and volcanic sand beaches, ideal for swimming, surfing, diving, and snorkeling. A temperate climate, gentle waves, and unforgettable sunsets throughout the year mean it’s always a good time to visit. And with the small Central American nation still off most travellers’ radars, now is the time to take advantage of the secluded beaches and welcoming locals that populate its coast from one end to the other.
PLAYA EL TUNCO
About thirty minutes from the airport and the country’s capital city of San Salvador, Playa El Tunco makes a logical first stop. Certainly the country’s most popular and populated beach, it’s caught on with surfers, with challenging breaks and beautiful vistas.
If surfing isn’t your activity of choice, instead take the short trek to the serene waterfall in nearby Tamanique. Or, just west of El Tunco, Playa El Sunzal’s pearl grey sands offer a more tranquil setting. And its proximity to the Parque Acuatico El Sunzal makes it an ideal destination for families.
At the end of the day, El Tunco’s unique rocky formation in the water, known as “The Pig,” creates a one-of-a-kind sunset. Grab a pupusa (the favourite local street food) at one of the vendors and watch the day turn to night. Once the sun sets, the town’s rousing nightlife attracts Salvadorians from across the country. Tiny beachside bars and restaurants keep locals and travelers alike fully fuelled for a night of dancing and reveling.
COSTA DEL SOL
The famous Costa del Sol is 65 kilometres south east of El Tunco, in the department of La Paz. Unlike the all-welcomed vibe of El Tunco, the more exclusive Costa del Sol is known more for its luxury hotels, sailing, and its secluded grey-sand beaches, San Marcelino, Los Blancos and Costa del Sol. Visitors to the area enjoy horseback riding along the beaches, heading out on fishing expeditions, and water sports, like jet-skiing and paddle boarding. And the biggest water park in El Salvador, Atlantis, is close by.
During key holidays in the country, locals descend upon Costa De Sol to celebrate, packing the hotels, beaches, and streets. Lively, colourful festivals bring the area to life with music and food, especially during Semana Santa and celebrations in honor of El Salvador del Mundo every August.
The area also offers some of El Salvador’s most distinct, unforgettable experiences. Take a boat ride through the Jaltepeque Estuary, one of the country’s 125 protected areas. Get an up-close-and-personal tour of the mangrove forest, where Rio Lempa, the longest river in the country, meets the ocean, offering a unique cross section of vegetation and wildlife.
The island of Tasajera is a quaint, tiny community with less than 2000 inhabitants, where you will often have an entire beach to yourself. It also offers up some of El Salvador’s best seafood cocktails. Visit at the right time of the year (between July and September), and you will have to chance to witness the sea turtle nesting period.
PLAYA EL ESTERON
In stark contrast to the bustling and rowdy El Tunco and exclusive Costa del Sol, Playa El Esteron remains of the country’s best-kept secrets, with its calmer waters mostly keeping the surfers away. But it makes for a charming, serene beach escape. Offering a more relaxing experience than other areas, there isn’t much to do besides explore the waters for sea turtles, sip tropical cocktails, and work on your tan. (We’re more than okay with all of this!)
It’s comprised of three unique beaches: Intipuca Beach, Playa Las Flores, and El Cuco.
At Intipuca, the river meets the Pacific Ocean creating ideal circumstances for stand-up paddle boarding. You can rent boards along the beach for reasonable prices. Intipuca is also home to El Salvador’s first microbrewery. Grab a handcrafted beer and head to the beach. Playa Las Flores offers the area’s best option for surfing, with some amazing breaks. And El Cuco is a chilled-out, black -sand beach lined with palm trees and local vendors.
With 320 kilometres of warm beaches, El Salvador’s even warmer people are eager to share their homeland with visitors. Each stop along the coastline possesses unique charms, transfixing landscapes, and new experiences, offering plenty to eat and even more to love.