The 10 Best Beaches in El Salvador

El Zonte Beach, El Salvador
hbrizard / Getty Images

Located on the Pacific Coast, El Salvador's beaches are home to some of Central America's finest surf breaks. But surfers aren't the only travelers who enjoy these long stretches of sand. The El Salvador coastline is dotted with villages both lively and tranquil, accommodations that are luxurious and ​budget-friendly, and warm waters perfect for swimming as well as surfing. No matter your preference, El Salvador will have a beach for you.

01 of 10

Puerto de La Libertad

Hotels and palm trees on El Tunco Beach
Dan Herrick / Getty Images
FMPG+FX3, La Libertad, El Salvador
Phone +503 2306 0110

The municipality of La Libertad (which translates to "liberty port") includes the most popular El Salvador beaches, especially when it comes to surfing. In particular, the Punta Roca break, located 3 miles east of La Libertad beach, is renowned by surfers worldwide. The surf is the biggest (think 10-foot waves!) during the wet season between May and October. However, the dry season has smaller, more consistent conditions, perfect for beginners. But you don't need to be able to surf to have a good time. In addition to swimming and sunbathing, the Malecon (boardwalk) offers a number of restaurants and souvenir shops you can pop into.

02 of 10

Playa El Tunco

Two surfers walking down the beach at El Tunco
 Chris VR / TripSavvy
Playa El Tunco, El Salvador

El Tunco, named for a rocky protrusion out at sea, is another dark-sand El Salvador beach in the La Libertad region. During low tide, you can explore the massive caves lining the shore. The often intense breaks attract many El Salvador surfers, while the beach town is a haven for budget travelers. The town has two small main streets lined with smoothie shops, swimsuit stores, and more. For the best place to watch the sunset, head to the outdoor bar at Monkey Lala, where DJs spin on the deck and bartenders serve craft cocktails.

03 of 10

Playa El Sunzal

Playa El Sunzal
Hermann Luyken / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Playa El Sunzal, El Salvador

Located roughly a half-mile from El Tunco, tranquil El Salvador beach El Sunzal (or El Zunzal) is quite striking, with black, glittering sands. El ​Sunzal is one of the country's best places to surf, with its long right point break that's considered to be El Salvador's most consistent. The waves here range from rough to mild; ask around to learn which breaks are the best bet for novice surfers, or sign up for beginner-friendly lessons at a local outfitter like Surf & Trips or Wayo.

04 of 10

Costa del Sol

Costa del Sol
Rainer_Maiores / Pixabay
Playa Costa del Sol, El Salvador

Many of El Salvador's luxury travelers head to Costa del Sol (the "Sun Coast"), a long, straight strip of beige sand lined with upscale oceanfront villas, vacation rentals, and beach homes. Spanning 15 kilometers (9.3 miles), the region actually includes three distinct El Salvador beaches: Costa del Sol, San Marcelino, and Los Blancos. With boat tours through mangrove forests, horseback riding, and day trips to Isla de Montecristo (among other activities), the area is especially popular throughout Semana Santa and the month of August.

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

Playa El Zonte

Man enjoying a peaceful afternoon on rocky beach of Playa El Zonte.
Damian Turski / Getty Images
km 53, El Zonte, El Salvador
Phone +503 7191 1371

Another oft-visited beach in La Libertad, El Zonte is popular with international surfers, particularly during the wet season (April to September). El Zonte offers beginner-friendly breaks, too, and if you're eager to learn, you can sign up for lessons at Puro Surf at Olas Permanentes. Because the beach is more secluded than other El Salvador beaches like El Tunco and El Sunzal, visitors will be treated to much less crowded waves and more cost-friendly accommodation.

06 of 10

Playa El Majahual

Playa El Majahual
 El Salvador Travel  
Playa El Majahual, El Salvador

The busy village of El Majahual is a top El Salvador backpacker destination, as it's just 23 miles south of San Salvador. Featuring a vast stretch of beach, there's always something to do in or around the water, including swimming, surfing, playing beach soccer, and dining on cheap eats and cocktails. Because Playa El Majahual is one of the most visited beaches in El Salvador, expect to share this sandy strip with crowds of locals and tourists.

07 of 10

Playa San Diego

Playa San Diego
feinteriano / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Playa San Diego, El Salvador

Located in El Puerto de La Libertad, Playa San Diego is one of El Salvador's prettiest white-sand beaches, with gentle waves that are much better suited for swimming than surfing. Despite its close proximity to La Libertad's pier, the 4.3-mile-long beach is relatively peaceful and welcomes visitors to play beach volleyball, indulge in fresh seafood, or simply soak up the sun.

08 of 10

Playa El Cuco

Overview of Playa El Cuco looking east.
Paul Kennedy / Getty Images
Playa El Cuco, El Salvador

Playa El Cuco is a quintessential El Salvador beach. On the southern tip of El Salvador, it faces the Gulf of Fonseca, which is shared by Nicaragua and Honduras. The shore is lined with vendor huts, seafood restaurants, and shaggy palms, while the ultra-soft sands invite visitors to kick off their shoes and relax. If you're hoping to surf, though, you'll want to head elsewhere: The waves here are not suitable for hanging ten. Be sure to get cash before you arrive, as the shops don't accept credit cards and there are no ATMs in the area.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Playa Las Flores

5V9J+WC5, San Miguel, El Salvador
Phone +503 2306 0110

Near Playa El Cuco is Playa Las Flores, which, unlike the former, is an excellent place to surf. With right point breaks and tubular sections, surfers will be treated to consistent, powerful waves that make for a great day out on the water. Even those who come here just to people-watch are in for a peaceful retreat, as the beach itself features black sand and tropical vegetation. For a luxury experience, consider booking a stay at Las Flores Resort, situated right next to the beach.

10 of 10

Playa Los Cóbanos

Footprint on the beach of Los Cobanos
fotoember / Getty Images
Playa Los Cobanos, El Salvador

For a totally different experience, head to Playa Los Cóbanos near Puerto de Acajutla. Here, you will find the Arrecife de Coral Los Cóbanos, Central America's largest Pacific coral reef at 150 kilometers (31 miles) long. It should then come as no surprise that this Natural Protected Area offers excellent snorkeling and scuba diving, with groupers, manta rays, and turtles among the aquatic life that call Los Cóbanos home. Sunken ships, too, are ready to explore, including the S.S. Douglas. Come here from November to January, and you may just spot humpback whales during their annual migration.

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The 10 Best Beaches in El Salvador