South America

Discovering the Hidden Gems of El Tunco, El Salvador

El Tunco is a charming little town that’s situated on the Pacific coast of El Salvador. It’s a popular destination for travellers, especially those who surf, party, and soak up the sun on pristine beaches.

This article will explore El Tunco in more detail, highlighting its history, attractions, accommodations, and transportation options. We’ll use a framework called MECE (Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive) to ensure that our information is organized and easily understood.

So whether you’re planning a trip to El Tunco or just curious about this hidden gem, keep reading to discover everything you need to know!

Discovering the Hidden Gems of El Tunco, El Salvador

History of El Tunco

El Tunco might be a popular tourist destination now, but it was only sometimes that way. It was just a small fishing village until a few decades ago.

The name “El Tunco” comes from the fact that the area used to be frequented by tuna fish. The village was established in the early 20th century, and its residents survived by fishing and farming. Life was simple, and the town remained largely unknown to the outside world.

Things began to change in the 1960s when surfers discovered El Tunco’s waves. The town’s pristine beaches and consistent surf breaks quickly gained popularity among surf enthusiasts, and soon enough, El Tunco became a hotspot for surfing.

As the town gained popularity among surfers, more and more people started to visit. This influx of tourists led to the development of hotels, restaurants, and other amenities that catered to the needs of travelers.

One of the most significant events in El Tunco’s history was the devastating earthquake that hit the town in 2001. The earthquake destroyed many of the town’s buildings and was a turning point for El Tunco. In the aftermath of the disaster, the city was rebuilt with a focus on tourism, and El Tunco became an even more popular destination than before.

Today, El Tunco is a bustling tourist town that attracts visitors from all over the world. But despite its growth, the town has managed to maintain its laid-back, bohemian vibe. So if you’re looking for a place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, El Tunco might be your perfect destination.

Discovering the Hidden Gems of El Tunco, El Salvador

Attractions in El Tunco

Aside from the beautiful beaches, El Tunco has plenty of other attractions to offer visitors. Here are some of the best things to do in and around El Tunco:

  1. Volcano tours: El Tunco is near several active volcanoes, including Santa Ana and San Salvador. You can take a guided tour to explore the area and see some of the stunning landscapes that these volcanoes have created.
  2. Waterfall hikes: El Salvador is home to several breathtaking waterfalls, many of which are within driving distance of El Tunco. If you’re up for a walk, you can visit waterfalls like Chorros de la Calera and Los Tercios to cool off in their refreshing waters.
  3. Street art tours: El Tunco is known for its vibrant street art scene. You can take a walking tour of the town to see some amazing murals and graffiti that decorate the buildings.
  4. Day trips to San Salvador: El Tunco is only about 30 minutes away from the capital city of San Salvador. You can take a day trip to the city’s museums, historic sites, and bustling markets.
  5. Yoga and wellness retreats: El Tunco is a great place to disconnect and focus on your well-being. Several yoga studios and wellness centers in town offer classes, workshops, and retreats to help you relax and recharge.

No matter what interests you, there’s something for everyone in El Tunco. Whether you want to soak up the sun on the beach or explore the surrounding landscape, this charming little town offers plenty.


El Tunco is known for its stunning beaches, offering plenty of relaxation and adventure opportunities. Here are some of the best beaches in El Tunco:

  1. La Bocana: Located at the mouth of a river, La Bocana is a quiet beach perfect for swimming and lounging. The beach is surrounded by lush vegetation, and the calm waters make it ideal for families with kids.
  2. Sunzal: Sunzal is the most famous beach in El Tunco, and for a good reason. The beach is known for its consistent surf breaks, making it a favorite among surfers. But even if you’re not into surfing, Sunzal is still worth a visit for its stunning views and relaxing atmosphere.
  3. El Tunco Beach: This beach is located in the heart of town and easily accessible from most hotels and restaurants. The beach is small, but it’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying the laid-back vibe of El Tunco.

In addition to lounging on the beaches, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy in El Tunco. If you’re a surfer, you can catch some waves at one of the many surf breaks in the area. And even if you’re a beginner, plenty of local surf schools offer lessons.

If you want something more relaxing, you can stroll along the beach and watch the sunset. Or, you can rent a paddleboard or kayak and explore the waters around El Tunco.

Discovering the Hidden Gems of El Tunco, El Salvador


Surfing is one of the main draws of El Tunco, and the town is famous for its consistent surf breaks and beautiful beaches. Here’s everything you need to know about surfing in El Tunco:

The popularity of surfing in El Tunco:

Surfing has been a part of El Tunco’s culture for decades, but it was in the 1980s that the town started to gain international recognition as a top surf destination. Since then, surfers worldwide have flocked to El Tunco to ride the waves and enjoy the laid-back vibe of the town.

Best surfing spots in the area:

El Tunco is home to several world-class surf breaks, and there’s something for surfers of all levels. Some of the best spots include:

  • Sunzal: This right-hand point break is known for its long, consistent waves and is a favorite among surfers of all levels.
  • La Bocana: This beach break is at the mouth of a river and offers both left and right-hand waves. It’s a great spot for beginners or those looking for smaller waves.
  • El Zonte: This is another right-hand point break popular with more experienced surfers. The waves are powerful and fast, making it a challenging but rewarding spot to surf.

Surf schools and instructors:

If you’re new to surfing or looking to improve your skills, several surf schools in El Tunco offer lessons and rental equipment. Some of the most popular schools include:

  • Puro Surf: This school offers private and group lessons, surf camps, and retreats.
  • Tunco Life: Tunco Life offers surf lessons, rentals, yoga classes, and wellness retreats.
  • El Salvador Surf Trip: This surf school offers lessons, rentals, and surf tours to some of the best breaks in the area.

No matter your skill level, there’s something for everyone when it comes to surfing in El Tunco. With its consistent waves and beautiful beaches, it’s no wonder that this little town has become such a beloved surf destination.


El Tunco is not only a great destination for beach lovers and surfers but also for those who want to experience the vibrant nightlife of El Salvador. Here’s a look at what the nightlife in El Tunco has to offer:

Discovering the Hidden Gems of El Tunco, El Salvador

Description of the nightlife in El Tunco:

The nightlife in El Tunco is laid-back and casual, with a mix of locals and tourists enjoying the town’s bars and clubs. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, making it easy to meet new people and have a good time. Most of the bars and clubs in El Tunco are within walking distance of each other, making it easy to bar-hop and explore the town’s nightlife scene.

Popular bars and clubs:

  1. Roca Sunzal: This beachfront bar and restaurant are popular for drinks and live music. It’s known for its chilled-out vibe and stunning sunset views.
  2. Taller de la Cerveza: This craft brewery serves delicious beers, cocktails, and tasty food. It’s a great spot for a casual night out with friends.
  3. Club Liquid: This nightclub is one of the livelier spots in El Tunco, with DJs spinning a mix of Latin and international music. It’s a popular spot for dancing and partying into the wee hours of the morning.


Every trip to El Salvador is complete with trying some of the country’s delicious traditional dishes. Here are a few of the must-try dishes in El Tunco:

  • Pupusas: These thick, handmade corn tortillas are filled with cheese, beans, or meat and are a staple of Salvadoran cuisine.
  • Ceviche: Made with fresh seafood marinated in lime juice, this dish is light, refreshing, and perfect for a hot day.
  • Yuca frita: These crispy fried yucca sticks are a popular snack or side dish and are usually served with a side of curtido, a pickled cabbage slaw.

Popular restaurants and cafes in El Tunco:

  • Restaurante Mandala: This restaurant serves a mix of traditional Salvadoran dishes and international cuisine, focusing on fresh, local ingredients.
  • Cafe Sunzal: This beachfront cafe serves tasty coffee, smoothies, and light bites like sandwiches and salads.
  • El Tunco Lodge: This hotel and restaurant are known for their delicious food, with a menu that includes everything from fresh seafood to grilled meats and vegetarian options.

Whether you’re looking for a casual night out with friends or a romantic dinner for two, El Tunco has plenty of options for food and nightlife.

Accommodations in El Tunco

El Tunco has a range of accommodations to suit every budget and preference, from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious beachfront hotels. Here are the types of accommodations available in El Tunco:

Discovering the Hidden Gems of El Tunco, El Salvador

Types of accommodations available in El Tunco:

  • Hostels: El Tunco has several hostels that offer budget-friendly accommodations for backpackers and budget-conscious travelers. These hostels often have shared dorms and private rooms; many provide communal spaces for guests to socialize and meet other travelers.
  • Hotels: There are a variety of hotels in El Tunco, ranging from mid-range to luxury options. Many of the hotels are located right on the beach, with stunning ocean views. They offer amenities like swimming pools, bars, and restaurants, and some even offer spa services.
  • Airbnb: For those who prefer a more home-like feel, several Airbnb options exist in El Tunco. These range from private rooms in shared apartments to entire homes and villas, allowing guests to have space and privacy.

Best hotels, hostels, and Airbnb options:

  1. El Tunco Lodge: This beachfront hotel is one of the top-rated hotels in El Tunco, with spacious rooms and suites, a swimming pool, and a restaurant that serves up delicious seafood and international cuisine.
  2. La Guitarra Hostel: This budget-friendly hostel is a great option for backpackers and budget-conscious travelers. It has a range of dorms, private rooms, a communal kitchen, and outdoor spaces for guests to relax and socialize.
  3. Casa Bonita: This stunning villa is available on Airbnb and offers guests a private oasis with a pool, outdoor living spaces, and breathtaking ocean views. It has several bedrooms and can accommodate up to 10 guests.
  4. Boca Olas Resort Villas: This luxurious resort offers spacious villas with private pools, perfect for families or groups of friends. It’s just a short walk from the beach and has a restaurant, bar, and spa services.

No matter what type of accommodations you’re looking for, El Tunco has something to offer. With its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and range of capacities, it’s no wonder why this town has become a popular destination for travelers visiting El Salvador.

Getting Around El Tunco

El Tunco is a small town, so getting around on foot is possible. But a few transportation options are available if you want to explore the surrounding areas or need to cover more distance.

Transportation Options

  1. Tuk-tuk: Tuk-tuks are three-wheeled vehicles that can comfortably fit two passengers. They are a popular mode of transportation in El Tunco, and you’ll see them everywhere. They are affordable and convenient; you can find them parked in front of most hotels and restaurants.
  2. Taxi: Taxis are available in El Tunco but can be more expensive than tuk-tuks. You can ask your hotel or restaurant to call a taxi for you.
  3. Bus: If you’re exploring nearby towns, taking the bus is a good option. Buses are relatively inexpensive, but they can be crowded and uncomfortable.

Tips for Getting Around

  • Negotiate the fare: When taking a tuk-tuk or taxi, negotiate the fare before getting in. Ask your hotel or restaurant staff what your destination’s going rate is to ensure you stay undercharged.
  • Wear comfortable shoes: If you plan to walk around the town, wear comfortable shoes. The streets in El Tunco are uneven and can be slippery.
  • Carry cash: Not all tuk-tuk drivers accept credit cards, so carry some money.
  • Be mindful of the weather: El Tunco can get quite hot during the day, so wear sunscreen and bring a hat and water when you’re out and about.

Getting around El Tunco is relatively easy, and the town’s small size makes it a breeze to explore on foot. Whether you take a tuk-tuk or taxi or venture out on foot, take in all the sights and sounds of this beautiful town.

Discovering the Hidden Gems of El Tunco, El Salvador

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to visit El Tunco?
The best time to visit El Tunco is during the dry season, from November to April, when you can enjoy sunny days and warm temperatures.

What other things to do in El Tunco besides surfing and partying?
Besides surfing and partying, you can go hiking in the nearby mountains, visit the local markets, explore the natural reserves, relax on the beach, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

How safe is El Tunco for tourists?
El Tunco is generally safe for tourists, but like any other tourist destination, you should always take basic precautions to keep yourself and your belongings safe.

How can I get to El Tunco from San Salvador?
You can take a bus or a taxi from San Salvador to El Tunco. The journey takes around 45 minutes by car and 1.5 hours by bus. Cabs can be expensive, so it’s best to negotiate the fare in advance.

Also Read – Huaraz, Peru: A Hidden Gem of the Andes


In conclusion, El Tunco is a hidden gem in El Salvador that offers visitors a unique and unforgettable experience. From its rich history to its beautiful beaches, exciting nightlife, delicious food, and comfortable accommodations, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re a surfer, party-goer, or traveler looking for a peaceful getaway, El Tunco has it all.

Recap of the main points:

  • El Tunco is a small El Salvador fishing village that has become a popular tourist destination.
  • The town has a rich history; visitors can learn about it by visiting important historical sites and landmarks.
  • The beaches in El Tunco are breathtaking, and there are plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained, such as surfing, swimming, and fishing.
  • The nightlife in El Tunco is vibrant and lively, with several bars and clubs to choose from.
  • Salvadoran cuisine is delicious, and several restaurants and cafes in El Tunco serve traditional dishes.
  • Accommodations in El Tunco range from hotels to hostels and Airbnb options, providing visitors with plenty of choices.
  • Getting around El Tunco is easy, and several transportation options are available.

Final thoughts:

Suppose you plan a trip to El Salvador, including El Tunco in your itinerary. It’s a beautiful town with much to offer, and you won’t be disappointed. Whether looking for an adventurous vacation or a relaxing getaway, El Tunco has something for everyone. Remember to try the local food and immerse yourself in the culture.

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