If you like surfing world-class waves, swimming with turtles in the ocean, rappelling down waterfalls and eating at food festivals, you’ll fit right in El Salvador. Getting around by public bus is very easy and cheap. The locals are friendly, the landscapes are beautiful, and even though your friends and family will constantly tell you to be careful, El Salvador is worth a visit.
Here is why you shouldn’t skip El Salvador.
I spent the majority of my time in this country at the beach, but also visited San Salvador and Juayua, located along the Ruta de las Flores. The local currency is the American dollar, and your money will go far here. You can buy pupusas, a traditional dish made with corn tortillas typically stuffed with beans and cheese for 25 cents each and local beers for $1.
How I got here.
Although I am traveling alone, I linked up with my friend Cillian in Antigua, Guatemala and took the 6-hour bus ride to the beach. We got dropped off on the side of the highway in El Sunzal and hitched a quick ride to the hostel where we stayed for a few nights. From there, my friends’ cousin picked me up and took me to San Salvador where I stayed in a luxury apartment. Thank you, Erica, for the introduction and Gise for your incredible hospitality!
After two days in the capital, I got a message from a friend I met in Guatemala who told me she was in Juayua, so I took two buses to meet her and ended up going on one of the best waterfall hikes I’ve done on this trip. I stayed in Juayua for the weekly food festival and eventually made it back to El Tunco, a very fun surf town.
Playa El Sunzal
A quiet surfing town with very little tourists in sight. Once you get to the beach, walk to the right, and you’ll run into beach caves. The sunsets here are spectacular, and you’ll see several locals playing soccer/futbol on the beach. I booked a surf lesson here for an hour, and although I was only able to stand up a few times, one of the highlights for me was swimming with turtles. We spent a lot of time in the ocean trying to catch waves and talking about the local culture.
Tip: Even though this beach is next to El Tunco, you’ll pay much less for food and drinks here.
Come here to party! This super fun surf town is crawling with tourists and locals who are here to have a good time. Several oceanfront restaurants serve delicious seafood with a great view. As I mentioned, there is never a shortage of pupusas you can eat, which comes in handy if you are traveling on a budget. I took a yoga class for $6 on a deck overlooking the ocean, and it was incredible. If surfing isn’t your thing, when you get to the beach, walk left to explore more beach caves.
Tip: If you are heading to Nicaragua, there is an 11-hour bus ride from El Tunco for approximately $35. Another alternative is getting a ride from San Salvador.
Located in the Sonsonate district of El Salvador, Juayua is a small town along the Ruta de las Flores with a lot of character. Every weekend there is food festival with delicious traditional food for under $6 a plate. I paid $20 to go to Los Chorros de la Calera “7 Cascadas” (7 Waterfalls) tour at where we rappelled down a waterfall and hiked for 8 hours. It was worth every penny! At the end of the trip, we swam in crystal clear water at the bottom of a waterfall and my friend, and I kept on saying how grateful we felt.
Tip: You can get a massage here for $10 for one hour. I went twice! Stay at Casa Mazeta, and the friendly guys who run the place will get you all the information you need for the waterfall tour and massage.
Feria Gastronomica en Juayua
Know where you are going before venturing out alone. As in any major city, some neighborhoods can be dodgy. I didn’t do too much exploring in the city because I spent most of my time relaxing and writing articles to help fund my travels. San Salvador is a major transportation hub and you can get to anywhere you want to go from here. I took the bus to Juayua from here and didn’t have any problems at all.
Have you ever tried pupusas? What are you looking forward to seeing in El Salvador?
Visiting Central America? Check out my Guatemala Travel Guide.
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