Literally translated as “the savior,” El Salvador could perhaps more fittingly be called “regular-foot heaven.” A number of epic righthand points line the coast of this Central American country, and with the political situation stabilizing and surf-centric accommodations and other services popping up all over the place, El Salvador is quickly becoming another popular getaway for the millions of North American surfers looking to vacation out of the US but near to home. Which translates, of course, to “get it while it’s still good.”
The Surf: El Salvador is best known for rock and cobblestone righthand points, but there are also beach breaks, river mouths, and even the occasional reef in the area. In general, this is a surf zone for intermediate+ surfers.
Five Waves Worth Surfing:
- Punta Roca (La Libertad): The original El Salvadoran discovery, this point break is one of the best head high righthanders in the world.
- La Paz: The inside section at Punta Roca, this wave is quite a bit softer than the hollow outside wave, and is much better suited to beginner surfers.
- Playa Conchalio: A series of beach break peaks west of Punta Roca, Conchalio is typically surfable even when everywhere else in the region is too small.
- Zunzal: Another beautiful right hand point 30 minutes from La Libertad, Zunzal is quite consistent, but can also be quite crowded.
- San Blas: Located between Punta Roca and Zunzal, San Blas is another series of beach break peaks and is convenient if you are staying somewhere near Club San Blas.
The Water: Not the cleanest water around. El Salvador’s points are known more for being brown than blue, but it isn’t like there is raw sewage floating in the water, so that’s a plus. Surface temps hover between 80–84 F (27–29 C) year round, so you’ll never need a wetsuit.
The Season: Although El Salvador picks up waves year round, the biggest south swells come in the rainy season (summer, which is June through September), and it is relatively small in the dry season (winter). Some would argue that spring (March through May) is the best time to visit, as it is still relatively dry, offshores are common, and early south swells are just starting to pump.
The Vibe: There are a lot of local surfers in El Salvador, and a lot of visiting surfers as well, so crowds can be an issue. Just as worrisome is the ongoing crime problem in the area, so do your best to travel in groups and watch each other’s backs.
Things To Do: There are a number of famous natural landmarks worth visiting in the country, such as the Coatepeque Caldera and Lake Ilopango. If you are a fan of culture and architecture, San Salvador has a lot to offer.
Where To Stay: If you are basing yourself around La Libertad, you will find a number of surf camps and surf hostels available, as well as hotels and other forms of accommodation. Elsewhere, things are not as set up for tourists, but you shouldn’t have trouble finding a place to stay.
What To Bring: A shortboard. Whatever surf accessories you’ll need, as you’ll pay dearly if you have to buy them locally. Surf booties if you are not comfortable with rocky shorelines and lineups. A friend or two, so you have someone to watch your back on shore and your backpack while you surf.
Getting There: El Salvador International Airport is located around 50 km from San Salvador, and is your main entry into the country. From there, you can either catch a bus into San Salvador or arrange direct transport to La Libertad—or wherever else you intend to explore. Tourist visas not required for citizens of most countries. Country code: SAL.