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.”
Surf in El Salvador: Some useful Tips & Hints
In this post, I want to give you some valuable tips and hints about the surf in El Salvador.
There has been written a lot already about surfing in El Salvador. But because El Salvador is an absolute paradise for surfers, it would take more than a blog post to cover all the information you should know.
Nevertheless, I think that some of my personal experiences might be interesting for you. I am not a pro surfer, more like an intermediate “land-locked” surfer. So my perspective might be different from yours.
Surf in El Salvador: Where to go?
Well, as mentioned before, it would take an entire webpage to give you all the information about the best surf spots in El Salvador.
Depending on your surf level and your preferences, you should pick your surf spot wisely.
Furthermore, it’s essential to find out how to get there and how crowded it is. I recommended a local surf guide if you’re unsure where to go and how to get there.
Personally I prefer El Zonte, because the beach is nicer than in El Tunco, and it’s not as crowded.
If you’re a beginner, I definetely recommend you to stay in El Zonte or El Tunco. Each of these places has its advantages and disadvantages.
If the waves are enormous, you should head more east (Las Flores & El Cuco) because spots like El Zonte won’t work very well if it’s bigger than 6 feet. Same with “Sunzal”. San Blas is a perfect beginner spot, and places like El Tunco and El Zonte are excellent hubs to discover all the places around.
El Salvador is the land of the right waves, and most spots are point breaks, although there are some lefts (El Zonte beach break, La Bocana (El Tunco), and San Blas (beach break)).
On this photo, you can see “Sunzal” from above:
Surf in El Salvador: Rent a surfboard?
If you come to El Salvador for surfing, it’s always the right question if you want to bring your board or if it’s wiser to rent one. Well, as always, it depends on what you want and what you’re expecting.
Depending on where you stay, it’s not a problem to rent a board for US$10-20 per day. It’s getting cheaper when you rent it for a week or even more.
El Tunco, El Zonte, and some other places offer boards of decent quality. If you stay longer and plan to stay longer in one place, you should consider bringing your board.
Ask your airline how much they charge you if you check in your surfboard. Most airline charges you around US$100-200 (one way). Please check twice: especially during the holiday season, some airlines don’t accept surfboards.
In El Tunco, there are a lot of places that offer a “ding repair” in good quality and for reasonable prices (US$3-20, depending on the damage).
Surf Board repair in El Salvador
Good news! Some professional ding repair places in El Salvador could help you if you smashed your surfboard against a rock (or someone else’s board).
Alexander in El Tunco, for example, can repair your board quickly and professionally. A small ding might be around US$ 2-3; more significant damages can cost around US$ 10-15.
It takes about 2-3 days to get your surfboard repaired.
By the way: Why not get a brand new custom-shaped surfboard in El Tunco? Papaya Surf Shop can shape your custom-made surfboard for reasonable money.
Ask Alexander at the “Surfboard-Repair”-Shop or Papaya-Lodge/Shop.
What about the “locals”?
It’s always an excellent choice to respect normal “Surf Etiquette” valid in almost every country where waves (and surfers) are. The locals usually like to share the waves with the tourists.
They are friendly and relaxed. But depending on the surf spot (Punta Roca) or Sunzal, for example, it can get more crowded, and there can be some tensions in the water (which happens rarely).
If you following some standard rules, you should be fine:
Advice 1: Be patient!
Don’t get into the water and take the first wave you see, especially when others are waiting for a while. Get into the line!
Advice 2: Be nice!
Most of the time, you’re not alone in the water. Say “Hello!” or “¡Hola!” and be polite.
Advice 3: Sharing is caring!
Don’t be too selfish! Even if you are in the better spot, sometimes “sharing is caring”. Surfing in El Salvador (and anywhere else!) is not always a competition, especially when you’re not a pro-surfer!
Advice 4: Don’t drop in!
Don’t drop into the wave if someone is closer to the peak! It’s not smart, it’s against the rules and even more important: it’s dangerous because you might get hurt! Take some surf lessons if you’re not sure about the rules!
Advice 5: Don’t take it too serious!
If someone drops into your wave, ask yourself if you didn’t follow the rules 1 to 4! 😉 If you did, take it with humor! There are enough waves for everyone to surf in El Salvador.
Advice 6: Don’t hurt others!
Don’t throw away your board of there’s a big wave coming, you put others in danger or your leash could snap. If you’re not a good swimmer, the way to beach can be looooooong.
Advice 7: Don’t be a snake!
Please don’t snake! Another surfer is waiting for a wave in a good position. You paddle around him to get even in a “better” position. Which means you’re actually “stealing it” from her/him! Not nice! Get into the line!
Advice 8: Relax!
Relax! Even if it’s crowded, your wave will come, and there’s enough for everyone. There are a few poorly educated everywhere, and fortunately, the atmosphere in the water is pretty relaxed here. You will have enough waves if you surf in El Salvador.
The best Surf Schools in El Salvador
There are a lot of places that offer surf lessons in El Salvador. Some of them are “official business” with a certification, some of them are locals that offer you surf lessons for about US$10 an hour.
The better ones charge you about US$25-30 per hour for a private lesson, including the surfboard and all you need for your lesson.
I would recommend going with an “official” surf guide. Those are more reliable and teach you how to surf safely, especially if you’re a beginner.
If you seriously intend to learn how to surf, you should try one of the following surf schools in El Salvador:
“Surferos” Surf School (Esencia Nativa)
“Surferos Surf School” is managed by Alex, the owner of Esencia Nativa in El Zonte. He and his instructors have a lot of experience and an official ISA certification. They offer custom-made surf lessons for every level. As a beginner, you will start with two theory lessons.
Price: US$30 per hour, including surfboard and all material.
Puro Surf Hotel & Academy, El Zonte
Puro Surf is probably the top of the surf schools in El Salvador, providing individual and high class surf lessons. Their facilities are unique in El Salvador: a skatepark, a gym, a pool for practicing the paddle technique, and many more. The prices are probably not for a backpacker’s budget, but if you intend to be the next Kelly Slater: go for it!
Price: US$ 40 per lessons
Phone: (503) 6148-7782
Surf Strong Surf School – San Blas
Surf Strong Surf School is located at Playa San Blas, about 5 min by bus from El Tunco. The beach break at San Blas has some good waves sometimes, but this surf school is in general perfect for beginners, who like to practice in the white water.
Price: US$ 30 per lesson
Please drop us a message if you have more questions.