El Tunco, El Salvador

El Tunco, a surfing paradise in El Salvador

By Sergio Camalich

El Tunco, a small surfer town in El Salvador, was the first place I visited in the country and the last spot of my 2014.

After passing a couple of months without surfing(as if I surfed a lot), I was more than excited to try it one more time and I was even happier since I was traveling with my friends Zoé and her mom, and Alex a little later on—two of the best friends I’ve made traveling.

To get there from Antigua Guatemala, we had to take a bunch of chicken buses across two countries, one border crossing and a lot of weird encounters, which I’m gonna have to talk about on another article.

El Tunco

The Town

El Tunco is a small town next to the main highway that crosses El Salvador all the way from North to South.

Famous for its surf and closeness to El Zunzal—another great surfing spot—it is an obligated stop on the way to Nicaragua for every surfer.

The local dudes told stories about the long waves you see during surfing season. Waves you can ride for minutes through the Salvadorean horizon into the Eden Garden of Surf.

Surfing in El Tunco

Then I would brag about how I managed to stand twice on a longboard, that same day.  BOOM!

If you’re not picky, food is cheap; consisting mainly on tasty tasty pupusas—El Salvador’s national dish—and sea food.

We were there during New Year’s season, so parties and booze were flowing all around, in and out the water, but we still managed to wake up almost every day for some sunrise surf, long midday nap and a final sunset session. You know, basically what people know as the hard life.

If Caye Caulker’s motto is ‘Go slow’, El Tunco goes by ‘Go slower’.

The Beach

It is a black-sand beach, rocky at some points and its main feature is a big rock where the locals fish the whole day, right in front of the main tourist area where most of the non-surfers are.

El Tunco

There’s  a lot of police officers making sure no body was drinking alcohol in the beach and taking care of any type of indecent exposure, such as kissing in the waters or swimming too close to each other. I’m not joking.

The main spot for surfing is the one to the end of the western side of the beach, where a big rocky area creates a deep enough surge for beginners not to crash into them.

The eastern side is the pro’s favourite but the waves crash basically on the shore, so it is really easy to break a board if you’re not careful.

Fun for everyone

It doesn’t matter if you’re a surfer or not, El Tunco has something for everyone.

I like the fact that you could see locals, national and international tourist getting along—one of the only places I’ve seen something like this in Central America, although it was a pretty common sight in El Salvador, of all places.

And it also accommodates to every type of budget!

One more time, I encourage people to get over the bad publicity El Salvador gets(as I do with Honduras) and don’t miss out on many of the amazing places you can visit in the country, El Tunco is one of them.

More pictures of El Tunco

El Tunco
El Tunco
El Tunco
El Tunco
El Tunco
El Tunco
  • Jamie

    Sergio, your photos are AWESOME. I would love to ask you about El Salvador — I am considering visiting for a week but there is so much on the media about how dangerous it is, especially since this summer. Do you have any suggestions or words of advice for me about traveling there? I am a single female traveler coming from the US, but would be with a tour group the whole time. Any words of wisdom would be really appreciated!

    • Hi, Jamie!

      I’m happy to know you like my pictures!

      El Salvador is an awesome place and, in my opinion, quite safe. All the tourist areas are really welcoming and the beaches are great.

      Depending on what you want to do, I’d really recommend you going to the Ruta de las Flores, El Tunco, El Cuco, Coatepeque and Santa Ana. Even in big cities like San Salvador, you can find beautiful hostels in safe areas where you can go out without a problem.

      Food is definitely not the best in Latin America, but ‘pupusas’ are dirt-cheap, tasty and super filling!

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