The Best Beaches in El Salvador

El Salvador is Central America’s only country without a Caribbean coastline, so head westward, where you’ll find miles and miles of Pacific shore. Don’t pine too much for the calm Caribbean, especially if you’re a surfer or water sports enthusiast: There are lots of breaks and wild water here. But if you’re not into the sportier sider of the ocean, no matter, you can still throw down a towel and relax on one of these beaches.

Bahía de Jiquilisco, El Salvador
Many Central American countries have coasts dotted with mangroves, a brackish ecosystem that is a sheltering habitat to numerous flora and fauna. Visitors can kayak through many of the mangrove systems, getting an eye-level view of the mangroves’ spreading root systems and being on the look-out for everything from crabs to crocodiles. Barra de Jiquilisco and Barra de Santiago are two of the navigable mangroves, and visitors who want to explore them can hire an outfitter or guide for a day trip.
El Tunco, El Salvador
One of El Salvador’s great surf spots, El Tunco is a beach whose crescent of sand is reached by scrambling over sea-smoothed stones.

El Tunco is also the name of the town where the beach is located, and a popular places for Salvadorans and foreigners alike to come and relax, chill, and enjoy a laidback vacation by the ocean.

When the tide’s just right, you can explore beach caves, which are tall enough to walk through. Even if you don’t surf, you’ll want to leave time to spend some time swimming as well—this is one of the area’s better swimming areas.

If you’re here in the afternoon or evening, take a short walk to Monkey La La, a bar and hotel on the other side of the Rio Grande to catch the sunset, cold beer in hand.
Playa El Sunzal, El Salvador
Water sports aficionados will want to head straight to Sunzal, a beach where surfing, snorkeling, and shallow scuba diving are the most popular activities. Local outfitters offer surfing lessons for beginners, though proceed with care: Sunzal has a world-famous point break.
El Cuco, El Salvador
Calm waters and beach sports are the main draws of El Cuco. Don’t worry about packing a picnic: there are plenty of kiosks where vendors sell snacks and simply-prepared seafood and fish. Be sure to bring cash (small bills) as it’s hard to find an ATM and few, if any, vendors take plastic.
Playa Las Flores, La Libertad, El Salvador
Las Flores is a surfers’ beach, with whipping waves and a break point, as well as a hippie vibe—you can even camp on the beach (though notifying the POLITUR, the tourist police, of your intent to do so is recommended as a safety measure). Surfing is only recommended, however, for advanced and expert boarders.
Acajutla, El Salvador
Los Cóbanos is a picturesque stretch of golden sand, framed by a fringe of palm trees, perfect for relaxation. The waters here are home to colorful reefs, which are protected by the government, so the beach is particularly popular as the point of departure for snorkeling and scuba trips with licensed outfitters. Expect to see sea snails and urchins, colorful tropical fish, and even some submerged ship wrecks. The best time of year to visit for snorkeling and scuba diving in the area is between November and February.

On the other hand, the reefs mean it isn’t a particularly good place to visit for surfing. Even so, it is one of the most beautiful beaches to visit while you’re in the town of Los Cobanos, a small fishing community just south of Acajutla in El Salvador.
Playa Costa del Sol, El Salvador
Easily El Salvador’s most popular beach, the “Sun Coast” is equally popular among locals and visitors, particularly during the vacation time of Holy Week, or Semana Santa. The 15-kilometer long beach has many services, including restaurants and water and sand sports. While it does not have an off-the-beaten path feel, it is easily accessible.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Food + Drink
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East