El Salvador is a bit of a mystery in Central America, but anyone who knows it well will tell you it’s a fantastic beach holiday destination. With over 300 km of spectacular Pacific Ocean coastline, it offers numerous opportunities for sunbathing, surfing, beach walking and swimming.
Running from the border of Guatemala on its west side, to the border of Honduras, on its east, most of the coastline is underdeveloped. This means that you will find many idyllic El Salvador beaches that are not overrun with tourists. Also known as the ‘land of the volcanoes’, El Salvador is the only Central American country without a Caribbean coastline. Even so, it does have many fabulous beaches to visit. If you are not sure where to go, this list of the 20 best beaches in El Salvador will interest you.
- El Salvador Beaches
- 20 Best Beaches in El Salvador
- 1- Barra de Santiago
- 2- Playa Acajutla, Acajutla
- 3- Los Cobanos Beach
- 4- Lago de Coatepeque
- 5- Mizata Beach
- 6- El Zonte Beach, La Libertad
- 7- Playa El Palmarcito
- 8- El Sunzal Beach
- 9- El Tunco Beach
- 10- Punta Roca Beach
- 11- El Majahual Beach
- 12- Puerto de La Libertad
- 13- Playa San Diego
- 14- La Costa del Sol Beach
- 15- Isla de Tasajera
- 16- Bahia De Jiquilisco
- 17- El Espino Beach
- 18- Las Flores Beach
- 19- Playa Los Almendros
- 20- El Cuco Beach, El Cuco
- 20 Best Beaches in El Salvador
El Salvador Beaches
20 Best Beaches in El Salvador
I have listed the beaches as if you were travelling along one continuous route from the west coast to the east to make it easy if you’re planning a road trip.
For more about Central America, read:
1- Barra de Santiago
The Barra de Santiago has to be one of the most stunning beach settings in El Salvador.
An impressive natural wonder, it takes the form of a narrow sliver of land separated from the ocean in an area where several rivers confluence.
Consequently, a spectacular estuary is home to mangroves, crocodiles, birds and turtles.
It’s a popular spot for water sports like sailing, kayaking and stand-up paddling because of its calm waters.
It’s not uncommon to see dozens of dolphins here, which gives it a rather magical ambience.
2- Playa Acajutla, Acajutla
Playa Acajutla is a lovely beach nestled near the flowing Sensunapan River.
Located southeast of Playa El Limón, it features a lovely promenade and two great viewing points that perfectly showcase the cliffs and caves that the ocean has impressively carved over millions of years.
There is also a scenic point at the north end of the beach where two sandbars almost touch but are separated by the mouth of the La Barranca and Sensunapan Rivers.
Overall this is a lovely beach to visit.
When you feel peckish, the fisherman’s wharf is also a splendid place to treat yourself to fantastic seafood.
3- Los Cobanos Beach
If you are keen on scuba diving or snorkelling, then Los Cobanos beach is the place to go.
Situated near the Port of Acajutla, the beach is well-known for accommodating the longest coral reef in Central America.
The reef stretches for 93 miles (150 km) and is a fabulous place to view marine life.
The sand is long and golden, making it perfect for walking and sunbathing, while whale watching and deep-sea fishing are popular activities also.
As some parts of the beach are rocky, it has natural pools that are very good for relaxing or bathing.
4- Lago de Coatepeque
OK, so Lago de Coatepeque is technically not a beach in the traditional sense, but I have included it on this list as it has a beachy feel.
Situated within the caldera of a massive volcano, this brilliant blue, 11 m deep, thermal vent-heated lake is an excellent spot for swimming or kayaking.
Unfortunately, the shoreline is under private ownership, so there is no public beach section.
However, a budget hotel called Captain Morgan charges a minimal fee to access their part of the beach, which is well worth doing.
5- Mizata Beach
Mizata beach is an excellent surfing spot that offers consistent year-round waves.
It is also a very tranquil locality, so it’s conceivable that you may well be the only one riding the swell when you go there.
This beach in El Salvador is divided into two sections by a river mouth.
One side has a rocky point break that produces excellent surf conditions, while the other side takes the form of a beautiful sandy beach that is perfect for non-surfers to enjoy.
Largely untouched by commercialisation, this beach is a fantastic one to visit when the pace of the main tourist areas gets too much.
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6- El Zonte Beach, La Libertad
Situated at La Libertad, the beautiful Playa El Zonte Beach is an isolated surf spot popular with international and local surfers.
Radiating a bohemian vibe, the beach is known for its fabulous point breaks, some of which have rocky bottoms while others have sandy bottoms.
As this beach is more secluded than other surf beaches in the area, the main drawcard here is that the waves are much less crowded.
So you will be able to enjoy them without having to jostle for position with other surfers.
7- Playa El Palmarcito
Want to snap some fabulous beach photos for your Instagram? Then Playa El Palmarcito is an excellent option.
Located within a cove framed by soaring cliffs, you will be able to take plenty of snaps from either of the viewpoints on each end of the cove.
As restaurants are perched on the cliffs and directly on the beach, you could also choose to enjoy a meal against the magnificent backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.
The surf is not bad here as well, while the adjacent town of Atami has lovely rock pools you may want to explore.
8- El Sunzal Beach
Along with El Tunco Beach, which lies half a mile from it, El Sunzal is a prime surf spot.
The 2021 ISA world championship games host, this El Salvador beach has dazzling black sand and the locale is pretty tranquil.
The waves can get quite rough, so only the most accomplished surfers tend to come here.
9- El Tunco Beach
Running on from Sunzal Beach is the famous El Tunco Beach.
Named in honour of a giant rock formation that protrudes out at sea, this is another striking landscape of black sand.
A popular destination for travellers and backpackers, El Tunco is one of the best and most iconic surf spots in El Salvador.
If surfing is not your passion, you can always come here to enjoy sensational sunsets or lively weekend parties.
When the tide is out at the beach, you can also explore the collection of intriguing caves along the shoreline.
10- Punta Roca Beach
Once you have conquered the waves at El Tunco and El Sunzal, you may be interested in tackling what’s on offer at Punta Roca Beach.
Many surfers will tell you that the swell at this El Salvador beach is the best in the country.
It certainly is very consistent for surfing, taking the form of right-hand waves that are powerful and hollow.
The water is quite warm too for swimming, while the sand is soft and inviting.
As this beach is just 22 miles (35 km) from the capital city of San Salvador, it is a popular day-trip spot for tourists and locals alike.
11- El Majahual Beach
El Majahual Beach is another beach in El Salvador that is often very busy due to its proximity to the nation’s capital and other large cities.
It’s also one of the country’s top tourist destinations, and the wide beach is well set up for a relaxing, family-friendly, fun day in the sun.
Swimming, kayaking and paddleboarding are all popular activities here.
The beach is not as pristine as others in the country, but it is one of the best for people watching.
There are excellent restaurants and bars to check out when you fancy some time away from the sand.
12- Puerto de La Libertad
La Libertad is renowned for its fantastic beach, pier and boardwalk, making it a lovely place to spend the day.
The La Libertad beach itself is home to the Punta Roca break, a well-known surfing hotspot and the renovated 19th-century pier features a lively open-air fish market.
The boardwalk is also an enjoyable place to stroll around, and there are lots of quaint restaurants and a fascinating mix of shops to explore.
If you make your way over to its eastern side, you may even want to check out the Walter Thilo Deininger National Park.
The lovely forested area is home to several different bird species.
13- Playa San Diego
San Diego beach is about five miles (8 km) away from the La Libertad pier and, at 4.3 miles (6.9 km) long, is a fabulous beach to walk on.
Opportunities for beachcombing, sunbathing, swimming and other water-related activities are aplenty too.
The white sand contrasts beautifully with the lush green foliage and stunning blue waters that sandwich it.
Relatively small and gentle, the waves are much more suited to swimming than surfing.
Despite being easy to get to, the beach is surprisingly never very crowded.
It’s surrounded by private homes and ranches that will make you want to check the local real estate listings.
14- La Costa del Sol Beach
Any list of the best beaches in El Salvador should include La Costa del Sol, which is located within an area of the same name and is one of three famous beaches in the area.
The other two beaches are San Marcelino and Los Blancos.
Lined with many upscale oceanfront villas, holiday rental units and chic beach homes, it is a popular spot for luxury travellers attracted to its strip of sand.
A central hub for international and local visitors, the beach is flanked by several excellent restaurants, bars, shops and other cultural attractions.
It’s always busy year-round, especially during Holy Week, the August vacations and the Christmas holidays.
15- Isla de Tasajera
Directly across the inlet from the Costa del Sol, where the ocean joins the freshwater lake, lies Isla Tasajera.
Essentially opposites, the beach here is the same strip as that of the Costa del Sol but has an utterly different vibe.
The main difference is there is nothing on it other than nature and a bit of driftwood.
There are few hotels or restaurants and virtually no traffic, apart from the occasional horse-drawn wagon that trots along the sabulous street.
The beach is on an island that can only be accessed by boat, so it’s more challenging to get to, but once you are there, you will be able to relax without the din of the crowd.
16- Bahia De Jiquilisco
One of the more paradisaical beach locations in El Salvador, Bahia De Jiquilisco, is an excellent place for those who love wildlife.
Located within a wetland that is home to over 90 species of birds and four types of turtles, the beach has a tropical feel.
The main way to access the beach is through Puerto El Triunfo.
Once you are there, you will be able to enjoy a stunning locale surrounded by mangroves and canals with floating restaurants.
There is even a protected area in the bay to observe spider monkeys.
17- El Espino Beach
Another beach in El Salvador that stretches uninterruptedly for an extended distance is El Espino Beach.
This gorgeous sandy beach stretches for six miles (9.6 km) and is excellent for walking.
It’s known for its sunny weather, gentle waves and stunning sunsets that showcase magnificent colours.
Visited by few locals and even fewer tourists, this fabulous beach is the perfect place for a digital detox.
Although it features brilliant white sand and a row of stately palm trees, you will, for sure, want to take your phone with you to capture fabulous photos.
18- Las Flores Beach
As you would have gathered by now, there are many excellent surf spots in El Salvador, and Las Flores Beach is right up there with the best of them.
Characterised by its velvety black sand, thick tropical vegetation and long sandy shoreline, this beach is situated in a secluded cove.
Enjoying a picturesque setting, the presence of jagged cliffs, and the relative lack of people lends it a remote and isolated vibe. It’s another beach location that is great for getting away from it all.
Generally calm, the water is perfect for swimming, while a few breaking waves are perfectly good to surf as well.
19- Playa Los Almendros
There aren’t too many white sandy beaches in El Salvador but Playa Los Almendros stands out.
A gorgeous tree-lined crescent curves around this stunning beach that is a little off the beaten track, but once you find it, you are presented with a landscape free from mass development.
It’s a lovely beach to relax on, and the man-made pools are an interesting diversion at one end.
You won’t find many services or amenities here, but you will get plenty of peace and quiet to rest and rejuvenate.
20- El Cuco Beach, El Cuco
Near the city of San Miguel, El Cuco Beach is one of El Salvador’s most famous beaches.
Facing the Gulf of Fonseca, it enjoys an idyllic position on the southern tip of El Salvador, close to both Honduras and Nicaragua.
Renowned for its dark, smooth sand and long, pristine stretch of coastline, the beach is a lovely location for romantic beach walks.
Its gentle waves also make it an excellent spot for swimming.
The quaint food huts and seafood restaurants that line the sand provide plenty of food options for when the hunger pangs hit.
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