El Tunco - El Salvador. Best surf beach in Central America.

El Tunco – Best Surf Beach in El Salvador

El Tunco sign

We hung around El Tunco beach for longer than expected and watched the surfing, people watched, relaxed and ate and drunk our fill.

Tanya and I began our Central American Adventure in the capital of El Salvador, San Salvador. After a few days of city slicking it, we headed south to El Tunco. Bypassing La Libertad completely for the moment, we chicken bussed into town and set about chilling and exploring for a few days. I found El Tunco addictive and we ended up staying a week longer than we planned.

El Tunco Surf

El Tunco beach and surf

The largest ocean in the world crashes straight into the El Tunco coastline. Waves that have travelled nearly a quarter of the way around the world meet their spectacular end on the rugged El Salvadorian beach. They don't give up without a fight, they go kicking and screaming! I'm no surfer but I was reliably informed by a crazy German dude that the surf was reliably consistent. There are apparently two great breaks. One is a point break in the El Sunzal area of the beach and the other is a left and right break around the river mouth. I know nothing about surfing but found it mesmerising to watch. In the stormy weather, the waves were huge, and I expected Johnny Utah and Bodhi to walk around the corner at any minute!

El Tunco Town

El Tunco Town

El Tunco is a small surf town (well village really) on the Pacific coast. It is a little further up the coast from La Libertad which is a larger town and the closest coastal resort to San Salvador. The village comprises a handful of narrow quaint colourful streets typical of the Central American coastline. The shops and restaurants are a ramshackle mix of old, new, wood, tin and concrete construct. There are a plethora of places to buy or hire surf gear, dine, snack, drink and get drunk. Accommodation ranges from the outrageously cheap to the ridiculously overly expensive.

Low season!

We arrived in low season and all but the 50 or so die-hard surfers had packed up for the season. Some had moved on and others had returned home to normal life. The main disadvantage of low season is that all the sand gets washed off the beach. This leaves El Tunco with an unforgiving beach comprising cobbles and boulders. The ocean in this part of the world is extremely high energy. During low season the tropical storms scrub the beach of the dry season sand. It did rain and storm most days, mainly in the evening. This didn't stop the hard-core surfers who were up at first light and still out there as the sunset. Also, some of the shops, bars and other outlets are closed. The benefits of the low season are cheaper prices and fewer people.

Check out the El Tunco video

If you haven't already seen it then check out the video, it shows the beach and a walk-through town looking at the shops and places to eat.

How to get to El Tunco

You can fly to the capital San Salvador. We have always found Skyscanner give us the best deals on flights. Once in San Salvador, you can easily get the chicken bus (102) from Terminal de Occidente. The bus goes through La Libertad and takes around one hour. It costs less than $2.00. If you are travelling with lots of luggage or surf board you could consider an Uber. An Uber might cost around $20. You could call one to collect you from the airport. 

There are various shuttles from other destinations that stop in El Tunco. These van style minibuses are quick and value for money. The best deals are from the agents along the main street. The local chicken buses are by far the most economical option.

Where to Stay

There are loads of places to stay in El Tunco. We had an amazing time at Hotel Mopelia and enjoyed the food, the bar and the little shaded pool. Mopelia is centrally located on the beach side of the main coast road and is in the middle of everything. It still manages to remain quiet and calm. A great place to chill in a hammock with a beer.

Where to eat and drink

We found the best puposas at the puposa stand on the road to the beach. They were value for money, tasty and served with a smile. Check out the video here! There are so many cool little places to eat in town that we couldn't try them all!


We thoroughly recommend you take our travel insurance whenever you travel. We recently had to put in a claim for over $5000 when we had to cancel our flights and other bookings and quickly fly back to the UK due to a family emergency. The claim went through very quickly and we managed to recover most of our expenses. Without travel insurance, we would have lost the lot!

Further Information

You can find out more about our time chilling in El Salvador Tanya's travel blog at Can Travel, Will Travel.

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