Why El Zonte is the best beach in Central America

Feb 16, 2022 | Travel, El Salvador, El Zonte

from Henning

Henning lived for several years in El Salvador, working as a teacher. He is Co-Founder of the SAY ZONTE! project. Writing for this blog is his way to give s.th. back to “el pulgarcito.”

Why El Zonte is the best beach in Central America…

El Zonte in El Salvador is the best beach in Central America, and we’re proud to give this “title” to ourselves ;-). Well, but seriously: In my humble opinion, El Zonte Beach is at least ONE of the places in Central America.

Of course, this is a very individual choice, and depending on what you expect, your choice as someone travelling in Central America might be different. But this article might give you a good impression of what El Zonte is all about and why you should visit this place!

A first video impression of the best beach in Central America: El Zonte!

We tried to catch the atmosphere of El Zonte with this bit of video. Enjoy! 

El Zonte: The beautiful people

If you stay in El Zonte, you will realize that there’s still a local community, luckily not affected negatively by the typical mass tourism. The people still live and work here, and you won’t experience the “tourism bubble” that you can often find in “overdeveloped” places.

In my opinion, a beautiful place always has to be authentic concerning the local people: and El Zonte is! It seems that the tourists always appreciate it, and there’s an active community here that supports the sustainable development in El Zonte.

As a traveler, that also means that you will be able to socialize quickly if you want: with locals or with other tourists. In the future, it will be a challenge to develop this place sustainably, which also means that the local people benefit from tourism here.

One of our main ideas of SAY ZONTE! is to develop this academy with our local teachers.

An excellent example of how local people live together with foreign tourists is Pupuseria “Geisy” in El Zonte. Please look at our video to get an impression of what I am talking about!

El Zonte: The most beautiful beach in Central America

El Zonte is truly beautiful! A spectacular coastline surrounds it, and the beach is covered with black sand that sparkles in the sunlight. There’re palm trees and coconuts everywhere, and the sunsets are breathtaking. 

During the rainy season, part of the beach is covered by rocks, which is unattractive for some travelers. But I think there’s always something fascinating about El Zonte, also during the rainy season. Each season in El Zonte has its advantages. Of course, there are many beautiful beaches in Central America, and I’ve seen a lot, but El Zonte is still one of my favorite.

the best beach in Central America

The village itself is divided by a river. You can cross it barefoot on the beach or take the bridge to the main road. As I mentioned before, El Zonte is not as developed as other typical tourist beaches. But in my opinion, that is one of the main reasons why I consider it to be the best beach in Central America. I don’t travel to El Salvador to feel like in Miami or Costa Rica, and El Zonte Beach is authentic El Salvador.

I strongly recommend making some small talk with the local people here. Most are very open-minded and friendly, and with a few words in Spanish, they also might answer you in English. If not, don’t give up learning Spanish! 😉

Bryan, for example, is one of these people:

Not a crazy party town but still lots of things to do

El Zonte is not a “party town” like El Tunco. Especially on the weekends, it’s not as noisy as El Tunco. For me, that’s a big plus because you will find peace here! In my opinion, the best beach in Central America is the one where you can chill out AND do the things you like.

Still, there’re a lot of possibilities to socialize. Many Salvadoran people come to El Zonte to enjoy the beach life on the weekends. But I have never experienced it over-crowded. Also, there is are small concerts right at the beach sometimes. One of my favorite places is Wipeout Surfhouse for that reason. 

And, of course, there’s surf, which is probably the main reason some tourists visit El Zonte. There are two different surf spots: a beach break and a point break. Both are within walking distance from our home base at Palo Verde Hotel.

From May till November, the waves can get pretty big during the rainy season, but the beach is perfect for learning how to surf during the dry season. You can find some excellent surf schools with professional surf instructors here (for example, Surferos or Puro Surf).

If you need some more information about the best surf spots in El Salvador, you should have a look here:

SURFING IN EL SALVADOR: 8 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

SURF IN EL SALVADOR: THE BEST SURF SPOTS AND USEFUL TIPS

the best beach in central america

Don’t worry; it never gets boring in El Zonte. You can also take yoga classes, take a tour to a coffee plantation, or go for a moto-cross tour. Since August 2019, El Zonte has an excellent public skate bowl. It’s a nice place to hang out and meet (local) people – even if you don’t skate. And, of course, you can learn and improve your Spanish with us.

Best beaches in El Salvador: El Zonte

El Zonte: An excellent hub to discover El Salvador

One thing that I always liked about El Zonte is that it is an excellent hub to discover El Salvador. Everything in El Zonte can be reached on foot, and there’re various tour operators that offer trips to the main tourist attractions in El Salvador. You can visit most of them within a day trip. I can strongly recommend “El ZONTE S’COOL,” by the way. 

Not to forget: El Zonte has decent restaurants and a large variety of hostels and hotels for every budget. I can strongly recommend the following webpage for your further research: www.elzontelindo.com

There’s also a great and helpful page summarizing events and things to do in El Zonte here: www.arentura.com

It takes you only 60 minutes from the international airport of El Salvador to get to El Zonte. Here, you can find more information: AIRPORT EL SALVADOR: A USEFUL GUIDE FOR TRAVELERS.

Shuttles from Antigua cost about US$20 one way, and it takes you around 5-6 hours to get to El Zonte. To get to San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, it takes you about a 1-hour drive by car. El Tunco also is close. Public buses leave about every 20 minutes in both directions and are cheap (US$ 0.50-0.75).

Please let us know if you have any more questions about El Zonte!

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