Surfing El Salvador’s Wild East
Situated in eastern El Salvador, the coastal city of San Miguel is worthy of a visit all its own.
Heavily damaged by an earthquake in 1917, the city was rebuilt and today is the third largest in El Salvador. On the last Saturday of every November, the city plays host to the San Miguel Carnival, part of a larger group of festivals in honor of "Nuestra Señora De La Paz" (Our Lady of Peace). The city's event closes out a month of celebration and is widely considered to be the country's largest entertainment, music and food festival, and one the largest in Central America. Putting its colonial history and celebrations aside, San Miguel is well situated as a jumping off point for those in search of the perfect wave, thanks to its proximity to two of El Salvador's famed surfing beaches – Las Flores and Punta Mango.
Playa Las Flores, located next to the famed black-sand beach El Cuco in a region known as "The Wild East," is one of the country's best surf spots, and is known as having one of the best point breaks and long rides up to 300 meters. Depending on the swell size and tide, surfing here may be best undertaken by experienced surfers only but smaller swells and fuller tides offer opportunities for less experienced boarders as well. Although the area is considered to be a bit off the beaten path for most travelers, it is quickly growing in popularity and multiple surf hotels and resorts have sprung up in recent years, taking advantage of the region's pristine environment and long sandy beaches.
And when the day comes to an end, those in search of a break from the waves may wish to stroll through the quaint seaside village and watch as local fishermen prepare their nets for the next day or bring in the day's catch.
Another popular spot for surfers is Punta Mango, described as "the perfect place for those who like to get barreled," by one website. Until recently it was so remote it was accessible only by boat; today, those preferring to travel by car can take a 40-minute drive in a 4-wheel drive.
Much like Playa Las Flores, Punta Mango's relatively recent popularity among international surfers and tourists means a variety of options are available when it comes to accommodations, from basic surf camps to luxury eco-boutique properties that offer top-of-the-line accommodations and close proximity to the best surf spots. Even so, the area is still a bit of “a beach less surfed,” so those seeking a quieter vacation would be well served to consider Punta Mango.
For non-surfers, novice surfers looking to nail down the basics, and even experienced surfers in need of a few additional pointers, both Las Flores and Punto Mango have various surf schools from which to choose. Bi-lingual instructors are available at most schools. Some hotels also rent different models and sized surfboards depending on experience level.
Regardless of one’s skill level, the El Salvador’s Wild East beaches offer the promise of great waves and tranquility in areas still relatively untouched by the crowds that seek out some of the more popular spots.
More by Kristina Rundquist
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Recent Travel Opinions
Airlines & Airports
Cruise Line & Cruise Ship