We left Leon, Nicaragua at 2am in the morning to begin our 7 hour journey to the last country of our Latin American trip- El Salvador. We got picked up from our hostel in a luxurious 8 seater shuttle with the company Gekko trails. I was a little worried about the trip. I imagined us jammed in the shuttle with no room (as per usual) and I was a little apprhensive about crossing three borders at night time. To my surprise, this was hands down the easiest ride of our trip! There were only three of us in the shuttle so we had plenty of room and we didn’t have to get out of the car once! For the first time ever, I slept through an entire country- Honduras, and woke up at the entrace to El Salvador.
Our first stop in El Salvador was the little beach town of El Cuco. Friends of ours had recommended us to stay at La tortuga verde. It seemed like a resort, but with hostel prices. It was really nice and located right on the beach. They ran shuttles to a good surf beach every morning, had board rentals, free yoga morning and night in an open air studio on the beach and had a turtle sanctuary. Three days here quickly turned into six. There wasn’t a whole lot to do here but we were enjoying relaxing (because you know, we hadn’t done enough of that on our trip already, haha). The town of El Cuco itself, was not particularly worth a visit. We took a long, hot, one hour walk along the beach to get to town only to find we were the only tourists as far as the eye could see, the shops were lacking supplies (some basically had nothing in them, just empty shelves) and we got followed by several homeless people begging for money. I felt a little on edge.
El Salvadors coast line is well known for its first class surf breaks, and it certainly did deliever (according to Tom). We took a trip to one of the best breaks in the counrtry called Punta Mango. Two friends we met at La tortuga verde drove us there in their rental car. After driving down some very questionable tracks and getting stuck in the mud we made our way to the beach. It was here that I saw my first ever cow on the beach! It was such a strange thing to see.
We packed up our bags for the second last time and headed to the very last stop of our trip, El Tunco. I had been so excited to get to El Tunco for a very long time as I had heard and read a lot of good things about it. The town consists of two streets filled with hostels, restaurants, bars and gift shops. It’s set right on a rocky, black sand beach with a beautiful rock formation in the water. The whole vibe of the town is based around surfing. Everyone is walking around holding surf boards coming and going to the surf and all conversations revolve around the surf. We stayed at a hostel called La Bocanita which again, was more like a hotel than a hostel and had a large pool, plenty of hammocks to laze in and airconditiong, which is a MUST as it gets hot, hot, hot here! There is so much to do in the surrounding areas of El Tunco such as visiting Santa Ana and hiking the volcano, seeing Crater lake, hiking Tamanique waterfalls, surfing the many breaks surrounding and visiting the city of San Salvador, or El Tunco itself is the perfect place to eat good food , swim in the warm ocean and sit back and relax.
As I mentioned before, it gets really hot here and since it is a black sand beach, it is not ideal to sun bake or sit on and the ocean is warmer than the showers in the hostel so it didnt offer much relief in the heat of the day. Most of our days were spent laying in the hammocks, swimming in the pool, drinking $2 smoothies from Surfer shakes (you have to go there!), eating good food and drinking cheap beer and watching the amazing sunsets every night.
El Tunco turned out to be the cheapest place we had visited. We absolutely fell inlove with their local dish Pupusa’s, which are corn tortillas stuffed with various things such as meat, beans and cheese. They are then topped with pickled cabbage and served with a mild tomatoe sauce and hot sauce, They cost as little as 50c each and taste delicious! Pair this with a $1 beer and you are looking at $2 for dinner. We ate these almost every night of our 10 day stay and didn’t get sick of them.
El Salvador is known to be quite an unsafe country but in El Tunco I didn’t feel unsafe at all. On the weekends its filled with people from the city and the police prescence multpiles. The police not only carry huge riffles, but their finger is placed on the trigger at all times. We found all the locals to be very friendly and helpful. It is a beautiful country that many backpackers seem to skip over for some reason. It should not be missed!
We packed our bags for the last time and caught a taxi to the airport at 4am to begin our 30 hour journey back to Australia.