Surfing Central America: El Salvador – Part 2
In search of the endless summer…Part 2: El Salvador
In 1966 The Endless Summer, a documentary, followed two surfers on an around-the-world surfing adventure in search of ‘The Perfect Wave’. World renowned surf locations featured such as the coastlines and destinations of California, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.
The film excited, and captured the interest of surfers around the world as well as those with a love of summer and a desire to chase the sun and see these far-off summery, beach vibe destinations as part of a surf-and-travel culture. The waves don’t move on from classic surf locations, but new surfing breaks (or secret surf spots), are now found more easily so the surfing adventure continues.
A few locations which are gaining great popularity amongst the pro’s and amateurs alike, are found along the coastline of Central America. In particular Nicaragua, El Salvador and Panama are becoming big names for the surfing tourism industry. Even better, these surf locations also offer beaches for non-surfing activities, plenty of natural attractions, festivals and ecotourism as well – appealing to all ages and interests.
Whilst it’s busy in San Salvador, the capital, the remainder of El Salvador is a combination of tropical fruit and coffee farms, mountains, lush jungle, stunning, empty beaches and plenty of fresh seafood. Facing the Pacific Ocean and bordered by Honduras and Guatemala, El Salvador is making a name for itself simply for being an underrated gem. With over 300kms of (somewhat rocky) coastline, El Salvador already has a comfortable position competing with surf locations worldwide, with the two most reliable breaks at Punta Mango and Punta Roca.
When to go
During the wet season, May-October, surf conditions are fairly reliable, if you don’t mind the rain (typically torrential from May). March and April can also offer ideal surfing with less rain. June and July tend to offer the largest swell drawing in experienced surfers, but the rocky (sometimes quite hazardous) conditions of El Salvador’s coastline should always be taken into consideration before entering the surf.
Where to go surfing
El Tunco is a popular base half an hour from San Salvador. It’s touristy and provides all that you might need to enjoy the surf. Surf is suitable for beginners in a couple of beach locations nearby such as Sunzal “the longest wave in El Salvador”, but don’t get confused and head to La Bocana which is for more experienced surfers, east of Sunzal. Once it starts reaching 4ft (1.5m), a beginner might want to let the experienced surfers take over. Best surf conditions are in the morning.
West of Sunzal you’ll find El Zonte, which is very rocky, and therefore best at high tide and offering dramatic coastal scenery. Further west K59 is for more experienced surfers, but with breathtaking scenery along cliffs and K61, 500m from K59 with less powerful surf, usually popular with stand-up paddle boarders! Mizata is reputedly the most consistent surf compared to Sunzal. It’s isolated and usually not busy despite offering a wide unobstructed sandy shoreline, great surf and cobblestone rocks instead of boulders.
Punta Roca in La Libertad, has been popular since the 1960s with swell reaching over 10ft (3m). Perhaps it’s because Punta Roca provides a challenge from the get go – surfers are required to clamber over large boulder rocks to the swell, avoiding being swept off them as you enter into the surf, whilst also avoiding sea urchins. At low-tide it can be for hazardous. La Paz is a section of surf at Punta Roca which is far friendlier towards beginners.
El Cuco (Las Flores) has become popular recently given its reliable big swell, which has resulted in a busy period of resort construction and tour operators. Low and high tide are both ideal surf conditions. The shoreline is rocky but the surf is above a sandy bottom bay.
Away from the busy surfing locations to the north n-west, Punta Mango is considered to provide El Salvador’s best surf rolling in 10-12ft (3-3.5m) waves. As a result, it’s also very busy, despite requiring a boat trip from Las Flores and again, rocky. La Vaca and El Toro are other surf breaks near Punta Mango also accessible by boat.
January 3, 2018