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The 8 Best Beaches in El Salvador [2023]

Amar Hussain's image
Amar Hussain
Amar Hussain's image

Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

799 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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El Salvador is a stunning, tropical nation tucked away in Central America. However, despite its plethora of natural sites, it often flies under the radar of people who are getting ready to book an exotic getaway. This tends to be especially true when it comes to planning a beach retreat, which is a shame because El Salvador boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

It doesn’t matter if you’re heading out on a solo trip or booking a getaway from the whole family, this Latin-American haven deserves to be at the top of your must-see list.

Map of the 8 Best Beaches in El Salvador

The 8 Best Beaches in El Salvador

1. Barra de Santiago

Barra de Santiago
Image Credit: Jenny Salita via Flickr (license)

Barra de Santiago is a great place to go if your idea of an ideal beach day involves laying out on the sand to tan and wading through gentle waves.

This beach is relatively unknown among tourists, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to deal with too many crowds while you’re there. Even on weekends, when more locals are able to head to the water, you shouldn’t have trouble finding a place to lay out your towel.

The beach is relatively no-frills, though. There aren’t many amenities, especially if you aren’t staying at one of the nearby hotels. However, that also means the ambiance is peaceful and serene. There are no lifeguards on duty here, though. So if you visit with young children, make sure to keep an eye on them if they want to venture out into slightly deeper water.

2. Playa Costa del Sol

Playa Costa del Sol
Image Credit: MjZ Photography via Flickr (license)

Playa Costa del Sol is a popular site among El Salvador tourists and locals because it offers idyllic tropical views and a laid-back ambiance.

The water around this shoreline is shallow and gentle, so it’s perfect for swimmers of all ages. However, if you’re a surfer at heart, you might not have much luck getting out on your board unless it’s a particularly windy day.

You can also have a virtually hands-off vacation thanks to the hotels and restaurants nearby that offer all the amenities and services you might need. Despite the beach’s popularity, you don’t have to worry about fighting for a spot on the sand. If you’re staying in the area, just head down to the water around mid-morning, and you should still beat the worst of the crowds.

Hot Tip:

For an extra special trip, time your trip around sunrise or sunset.

3. Playa El Cuco

Playa El Cuco
Image Credit: Erik Cleves Kristensen via Flickr (license)

Playa El Cuco is the perfect spot to lay out and relax by the water. The beach is known for its seafood restaurants that serve locally-caught fish, so you don’t have to worry about bringing a picnic.

The beach is popular among surfers, though. The waves in this part of the country tend to be a little more consistent, and many of the local hostels promote sports tourism. So, if you’ve always wanted to try your luck on a board, this is a great place to do it.

However, make sure you pay attention if you’d rather just go for a walk or leisurely swim to make sure you don’t collide with any surfers on busy days. The beach is also a popular sunset spot because the horizon explodes in color around dusk, so make sure you stick around until evening.

4. Playa El Obispo

El Malecon Playa El Obispo La Libertad El Salvador
Image Credit: Eduardo Melendez via Adobe Stock

Playa El Obispo is one of El Salvador’s best-kept secrets when it comes to the country’s coastal spots. Rocks and hills partially hide this shoreline, so many tourists don’t even know it’s there, and most people you encounter while on the sand will be other locals. More often than not, though, you’ll have the place virtually to yourself.

However, going for a dip here can be a little dicey if you’re not an avid swimmer. The current can be a little unpredictable at times, so it’s best you stick to the shallow water near land because there are no lifeguards on duty.

The beach can also be a little hard to find, so make sure you ask locals before you set off for the day. You won’t have access to really any amenities on the sand either.

5. Playa El Sunzal

Playa El Sunzal
Image Credit: descubriendoelmundo via Flickr (license)

Playa El Sunzal is a relatively isolated beach spot that allows seclusion, peace, and quiet. The beach is a bit of a trek from the nearby town, El Tunco, and there’s a path you have to follow to make it to the water. So, if you or anyone you travel with has mobility concerns, this might not be the easiest spot to get to.

When here, you won’t run into too many casual tourists. Most out-of-towners who head to this part of the coast are interested in trying their luck at the waves you can normally find on the water.

If you stick near the shore, you likely won’t get in anyone’s way, even on days when the surf is especially good. However, if you’d prefer, you can also hang out on the shore and listen to the water.

6. Playa El Tunco

Playa El Tunco
Image Credit: Mike Vondran via Flickr (license)

Playa El Tunco is one of El Salvador’s most famous beach spots. Known for its surfing, this is a lively shore that usually gets its fair share of daily foot traffic.

The beach is popular among locals and tourists alike, so try to head out early if you want to have a day by the water. That’s especially true if you visit on the weekend or around a major holiday like Christmas.

Since the water around El Salvador is warm enough for surfing all year, there’s no real-time when El Tunco’s crowds die down. The beach is also popular among families. Parts of the beach have pebbly patches, so kids love hunting for rocks and shells. The water is also safe and gentle near land for swimming and walking.

7. Playa El Zonte

Playa El Zonte
Image Credit: Carlos Lowry via Flickr (license)

Playa El Zonte has always been on the cutting edge of tourism trends. As one of the first places in the country to accept Bitcoin and other digital forms of payment, it quickly became a popular place among tech lovers. Even before that, the beach was a surfing haven, with people from all over the world coming to catch some waves off the coast.

Even though the beach is popular among tourists, it still managed to maintain its natural appeal. You won’t find many businesses right on the sand, and there are numerous spots with lush greenery and a less manicured look which gives the area a more exotic atmosphere.

However, currents can be a little strong here, especially if you start venturing into the deeper parts of the water. If you’re visiting with kids, it might be best to make sure they stick to the shallow areas for added safety.

8. Playa Los Cobanos

Playa Los Cobanos
Image Credit: Metztli via Wikimedia Commons (license)

Often cited as one of El Salvador’s most beautiful beaches, Playa Los Cobanos truly encapsulates the country’s tropical charm.

The beach is part of a small fishing village, so it’s a quaint area that lets you escape the chaos and bustle of city life. The beach is surrounded by affordable eateries which use fresh, local ingredients. So, you can grab some refreshments while you take a break from the water.

This is also one of the safest beaches in the country. That’s largely thanks to the clean, gentle waters you can swim in without any worries. You can even let kids splash around because the water stays shallow for quite a distance.

Hot Tip:

If you visit, make sure you stay until sunset. The horizon is wide and unobstructed, so you’ll get a picture-perfect view of the sun going down.

Final Thoughts

Clearly, El Salvador is a country full of beachy locations to make your tropical dreams a reality. Whether you’d prefer to spend your days lounging on the shore or you’re a thrill-seeker who’s ready to hit the waves, there’s a place in this Central American nation for you to visit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does El Salvador have good beaches?

El Salvador has numerous beautiful beaches to choose from for a beach getaway. Many of these coastal stretches are tropical in nature and have pristine, blue water as well as soft sand and lush palm trees to enjoy at nearly any time of year.

Can you swim in El Salvador beaches?

Many of El Salvador’s beaches are perfectly safe to swim in. The water near the shore tends to be pretty shallow and gentle, making it a great spot for families. If swimming in a particular area isn’t recommended, there will usually be signs posted.

Is El Salvador's water clean?

When it comes to its coasts, El Salvador boasts clean, bright water for tourists to swim in. Many of the most popular swimming areas are separated from the ports, so there’s little risk of pollution. However, busy days can cause sand to disperse.

Why do tourists go to El Salvador?

Tourists go to El Salvador for a number of reasons. The culture is vibrant and unlike that of any other place in the world. The country is also full of natural wonders, from thick forests to stunning beaches to create a tropical paradise.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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