El Salvador probably brings to mind images of violence, drug cartels, and all around craziness that the average person who doesn’t travel probably can’t even imagine. I am not here to preach that El Salvador travel is full of butterflies and rainbows and that you can prance around waving cash and not have a care in the world. But I did visit El Salvador. I lived through it. I actually enjoyed it and felt pretty safe during my time there.
El Salvador travel isn’t as scary as the rumors make it out to be.
As a part of my Central America tour, my friend and I found ourselves in Antigua, Guatemala once again and were shooting to get ourselves to Leon, Nicaragua to go volcano boarding.
Now, there are a lot of options when it comes to traveling between Antigua and Leon. You can fly, but you’ve been warned, it’s insanely expensive. Think $200+ one way. And there are different calibers of direct shuttles or tourist buses that take two days with stopovers in San Salvador.
After weighing our options and chatting with fellow travelers we opted for an extended stop over in El Tunco, El Salvador.
First, we were CRAVING the beach. We knew we would be inland for another week or so before heading to San Juan Del Sur and wanted to touch the ocean for a bit before then.
Second, we were wasting two days with all travel, we decided it was better to have two half days of travel and take advantage of some beach time in between.
Third, we wanted to actually experience a little of El Salvador travel instead of just driving through it and Honduras.
So, we booked our shuttle and off we went at the ass crack of dawn.
Pro tip: ask your hostel for travel agency recommendations in Leon or Antigua for booking your shuttles. They are developing countries, rip offs happen. Find a trusted source.
Pro tip 2: Our shuttles offered the option of not having to get out of the shuttle at one of the borders (I think it was Honduras?) for $1 extra, I’d definitely say to do this, it is hot as balls at the borders, the bathrooms are less than ideal, and people hounding you to buy their shit are everywhere. Avoid it all, stay in the air conditioning.
Side note: Am I the only one that truly believes that if you have to pay for a bathroom then it means it’s one of the shittiest bathrooms you’ve ever seen? It ALWAYS happens. El grosso.
Anyways, El Salv. I spent 3 full days in El Tunco on the coast of El Salvador.
It’s a town known for its surfing and for its wild El Salvadorian weekend parties. More on El Tunco in my next post. Spoiler alert: Guide to El Tunco, El Salvador.
Those 3+ days in El Tunco were anything but dangerous and scary.
The Salvadorians that we met while dining around town and walking the two streets were all insanely friendly. We weren’t in town on the weekend but heard that it is a popular vacation spot for wealthier Salvadorians that come in from San Salvador and surrounding cities.
We spent our days lounging by the pool or at the small beach, eating pupusas and consuming a little too much rum and coke. I toyed with giving surfing a try for the first time. I LOVE the ocean so it’s a pretty natural progression for me. But we spent an afternoon swimming in the waves and I got my ass kicked just doing that, so I’m going to hold off on the surfing in hopes of finding little baby waves to start on without a strong current.
Unfortunately, my travel stomach also bit me during the last two days in El Tunco and I was bed bound. By that I mean I couldn’t go too far from the toilet, catch my drift? I don’t think it was anything El Tunco did, I just have a sensitive tummy, if you REALLY want to read more about that, read this capturing account of my story of shitting my pants in Vietnam.
There were some troubles with ATMs in town and a few travelers had to go to the next town over in order to get some cash and they came back with some spooky stories but were ultimately left alone. It is a country that you need to exercise a bit more caution than normally to traverse, but if you don’t go looking for trouble, trouble probably won’t come looking for you.
Don’t skip out on El Salvador travel when planning your Central America route. I am itching to go back and give San Salvador a try, I’ve heard some wonderful things about it since!
Will you give El Salvador a chance? Why?
Looking at Heading to El Tunco? Why Not Check Out Some of These Places to Stay:
Hotel Puesta del Sol is the perfect place if you are looking for budget accommodation that is a little bit removed from the partying heart of El Tunco. Located about ten minutes walking from the center of town this piece of paradise has a pool so you can relax, an onsite restaurant and everyone raves about how nice the owners are!
Located in the heart of El Tunco, Casa Hostal Makoi is a chilled and relaxed hostel that is also just steps from the beach. Have an easy morning at the hostel with their free breakfast or opt to take a surfing lesson from the staff at the hostel. No matter what you decide the staff at Hostal Makoi will make you feel at home.
If you are looking for a little luxury and surfing during your stay in El Tunco you have to check out Kayu Resort and Restaurant. This stunning hotel boasts gorgeous beach views and an outdoor pool and is situated right at El Sunzal beach break. This hotel caters to surfers and offers an intimate experience with only 7 rooms!