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El Tunco

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El Tunco

El Tunco Banner.jpg

El Tunco is in La Libertad.


El Tunco is a little surf village in El Salvador. It is located 8km west of Puerto La Libertad, 35km from the capital San Salvador and 35km from San Salvador airport. Only a few years ago this place was unknown and quiet, but is now the most visited town of El Salvador - by backpackers and surfers all year long, and by Salvadorians on the weekends for the nightlife. There are now around 20 hostels, bars, restaurants and everything needed to practice surf. Playa El Tunco, a beautiful black sand beach, is actually the gateway to surfspot El Sunzal, and is a few kilometers away from El Zonte and Punta Roca, 2 other famous surfspots.

Get in[edit]

By bus[edit]

Bus 80 runs from La Libertad (15 minutes). From San Salvador take bus 102A (air-conditioned microbus), about 1 hour and $1.80. Bus 102 (more frequent, camionetta-style bus, not to be confused with the 102A) no longer travels all the way to El Tunco, but goes to La Libertad ($0.60). You can change to another bus here for the last few kilometers ($0.25). Buses leave San Salvador from the corner of 17a Av Sur and 6a Calle Poniente in the city center, and also pass the western (Occidental) bus station. The Occidental bus stop is not in the station itself, but outside to the right on the same side of the street (not under the pedestrian overpass with the other buses).

By shuttle[edit]

Direct shuttles are run from Antigua Guatemala, Leon, Nicaragua and Copán Ruinas, Honduras ($40, minimum 3 people), but are more than three times the price of regular public transportation. Shuttles can also be arranged from various other surf beaches in El Salvador, e.g. El Cuco.

By air[edit]

San Salvador airport is located 35km away and offers connections to many destinations in North, Central and South America. A taxi from here will cost approximately $35.

Get around[edit]

Bus 80 to La Libertad, bus 192 to El Zonte.

See[edit][add listing]

The sunset in El Tunco is spectacular, with its big rock formation in front.

A nice waterfall can be visited in the nearby town of Tamanique - it is possible to jump from the top, but should only be attempted during the "rainy" season when water levels are highest.

Do[edit][add listing]

Enjoy the nightlife on the weekends with live music in several bars.


There are 3 surfspots just in front of the town, El Sunzal, La Bocana & Bocanita. Further up the coast, there are nice breaks at El Zonte, Punta Roca and at KM59 (long right handed point break best at full tide).

Buy[edit][add listing]

The local tiendas offer the necessary for small food supply, although the nearest supermarket is in La Libertad. If you plan on cooking while in El Tunco, better to stock up here. There is no pharmacy in El Tunco, so it is a good idea to have any necessary medications before arriving. Bug spray and antihistamines are a good idea as there are plenty of mosquitoes and sandflies about.

There are several stores selling surf clothing from the major brands, and others selling cheaper board shorts and t-shirts. Second hand surfboards can be found in some stores, e.g. Papaya's, starting at about $100 for an old beat-up longboard, and $150 for a shortboard. New boards start at about $400. You may also be able to buy from a fellow traveller for cheaper.

Beware when renting boards from the local rental places, they may try to charge you exorbitant amounts for the smallest dings. Definitely take a picture of your board after renting, showing all existing damage, do not tell them that it is your last day in town, and be prepared to argue when they try to extort money from you for tiny dings. A small ding should cost no more than $5 to fix.

Another tip when renting surfboards is to ask for a discount for multiple days, and if you rent after 1pm you should be able to have the board for a half day rate, or a 24-hour period for $10 - after a little bit of bargaining.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Several restaurants with different kinds of food at reasonable prices. You will find delicious papusas for $1 or less.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Few bars of different style, party oriented or chill.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Around 20 guesthouses can be found in El Tunco, from $6 (dorm) to $40.

  • Papaya's Lodge, Km. 42, Playa El Tunco, Tamanique, La Libertad, El Salvador, Centro América. (From the beach El Tunco, walk straight up and you will see it on the corner when you meet the road.). checkout: 12 pm. Kitchen, clean rooms, friendly (Spanish-speaking only) staff and a nice mellow traveller vibe. WiFi and Cable TV. Dorms $10, double $25. Close to the beach and all the nightlife. Nice small pool. Surfboards for rental, $10/day, standard in El Tunco. Hangout areas everywhere, hammocks. USD 10.  edit


Get out[edit]

Take bus 102A back to San Salvador and connect to many places from there. There are also (expensive) shuttles to Léon, Nicaragua (departs daily at 3:00am, about 8hours and $40), Copán Ruinas, Honduras (departs on demand, $40, 5:30am departure), Antigua Guatemala ($40+) and Guatemala City (same as Antigua shuttle). You can also arrange direct private transportation to the surf beaches further south, e.g. El Cuco.

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