If you’re planning a trip to Central America, head to the coast to discover the beaches of El Salvador. If you like surfing world-class waves, swimming with turtles in the ocean, rappelling down waterfalls and food festivals, you’ll fit right in El Salvador.
El Salvador: Best Beaches + Solo Travel Tips
Getting around by public bus is very easy and cheap. The locals are friendly, the landscapes are beautiful. Even though your friends and family will constantly tell you to be careful, El Salvador is such a wonderful place to visit on your solo travel trip.
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 the good news is, 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.
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Getting to El Salvador’s beaches and the Ruta de Las Flores
Although I was traveling alone, I linked up with my friend Cillian in Antigua, Guatemala. We took the 6-hour bus ride to the beach and got dropped off on the side of the highway in El Sunzal. We then 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, a friend I met in Guatemala told me she was in Juayua. So I started my journey to the Ruta de Las Flores and took two local buses to meet her. I ended up going on one of the best waterfall hikes in all of my Central America travels. While I was in Juayua, I visited the weekly food festival and eventually made it back to El Tunco, one of my favorite beaches in El Salvador.
Playa El Sunzal
A quiet surfing town with very little tourists in sight. This is one of El Salvador’s black sand beaches. 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 surf and 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. I love pupusas, and at a quarter each, they won’t break your travel 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.
Where to stay
Located in the Sonsonate district of El Salvador, Juayua is a small town along the Ruta de las Flores with a lot to offer. Every weekend, locals and visitors attend the Feria Gastronomica en Juayua, a 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!
Where to stay
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 anywhere you want to go from here. I took the local bus to Juayua from here and arrived in a few hours.
The beaches in El Salvador are alone worth a visit in 2020. Explore the coastline, and head to the mountains to rappel down waterfalls. Whatever you do, don’t skip El Salvador on your Central America solo trip.
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