The best beaches in El Salvador are, fortunately, many and varied. This is because El Salvador boasts a number of volcanic-sand beaches lined with palm trees.
Beautiful sunsets and lazy beach days are never in short supply in this country bordering the Pacific Ocean. I’ve listed fourteen of what I consider to be the best El Salvador beaches, so you can choose your favorite.
What constitutes the best beach may not be the same from one person to the next. It largely depends on what you want to do at that beach and what the features of the beach are.
Some of these beaches are ideal for swimming and sunsets. Others are good for surfing and watersports. I highly recommend choosing the beach you’d like to explore based on the activities you want to do.
14 of the Best El Salvador Beaches:
I was spoiled for choice when writing this article and had a hard time picking my fourteen favorite beaches. However, I think these fourteen truly are the best considering their activities, locations, and features.
1. El Zonte
El Zonte is the place to be if you’re a surfer, or even if you’re not! However, this beach does boast not only one, but two, fantastic surf spots, so it is a surfer’s paradise.
The addition of ample palm trees means that you can relax in the shade when not in the water. El Zonte is one of the more popular beaches, so you can expect to find it crowded on the weekend.
I personally enjoyed El Zonte particularly because of the dramatic rock formations all along the shore. There is a cave tunnel that is definitely worth a second look as well as several impressive cliffs.
El Zonte is great during the summer because the waves are slightly smaller and the beach is sandy. During the winter in El Salvador, El Zonte’s waves can become very large and the beach is covered in rocks. If you’re not a surfer though, there is a skate park right by the beach. And if you’re not a skater either, it’s fun to see the locals show off while you relax.
The sunsets here are very dramatic and it is the idyllic El Salvador spot. This is because of the fantastic black volcanic sand that makes up the beach.
Best for: Surfing and swimming
Features: Skate park
2. Playa El Cuco – Best Beaches In El Salvador
Although El Cuco Beach is popular among locals, it is fairly remote so not a lot of tourists find it. This is perfect if you want to spend an entire day just relaxing by the water with friends or family.
The beach here is never rocky and you can expect to see smooth, dark sand year-round. The volcanic sand, calm waters, and the long shoreline make this one of the best beaches in El Salvador.
This beach is not ideal for surfing and there are fewer activities here than on other beaches in the area. However, if you have the equipment or can rent some, you can play soccer or volleyball on the beach.
The sand is incredibly soft and perfect for long walks or lying in the sun with a good book. If you want to spend time with family and friends in a less crowded area, this beach is for you.
Although the town of El Cuco is fairly underdeveloped, there are some restaurants and eateries by the beach. If you get hungry, simply walk over to any of the food stands and grab some seafood on the go.
Just remember to bring cash with you as the town doesn’t have an ATM and most vendors only accept cash.
Best for: Swimming, walking, and sunbathing
Features: Food stalls
3. Barra de Santiago
On the west side, Barra de Santiago is one of the best beaches in El Salvador that is fairly remote. We can compare it to El Cuco which is one of the best remote beaches on the eastern side.
Barra de Santiago is actually an entire peninsula area, but the beach is beautiful in and of itself. This is because the beach of Barra de Santiago is where the river mouth, estuary, and ocean come together.
The beach is in a protected wetland area, which makes the wildlife here fairly prolific. Therefore, this is an excellent place for those visitors that love animals and nature.
If you are interested, you can even visit the nearby mangroves bordering the beach. The mangroves are the home of several very large crocodiles, and they are worth seeing!
You can also expect to see some turtles and a wide variety of birds. And if you head out on a fishing excursion, you will also see schools of dolphins flitting by.
The water here is very calm and that is why this spot is also a favorite among watersport enthusiasts. If you can rent the equipment, or bring it along, you can engage in kayaking or stand-up paddle-boarding.
Best for: Kayaking, sailing, stand-up paddleboarding, water skiing, and wildlife
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4. La Costa del Sol – Best Beaches In El Salvador
I have now made mention of two of the more remote beaches, but La Costa del Sol is anything but. This is one of the most popular beaches and it is also in one of the most developed tourist areas.
There are many activities, hotels, restaurants, and stores in the vicinity, which means that you’re truly spoiled for choice. If you want an action-packed beach vacation, then this is the beach for you.
Because La Costa del Sol is so focused on the tourist market, the beach can get pretty crowded. If you’re looking for a luxury experience and a bit more space, I’d opt for the hotel option.
This option will allow you to either stay at a hotel or resort or get a day pass to use their facilities. Most of them have their own pools or private beaches and you’re guaranteed a quieter vibe.
Best for: The luxury tourist experience
Features: Restaurants, hotels, resorts, equipment rentals, and shops
5. El Tunco
Of the best beaches in El Salvador, El Tunco is probably one of the smallest. However, it boasts a very impressive rock formation out at sea that makes for ideal Instagram photos.
Additionally, the waves here are good for surfing, and the town of Tunco itself is always bustling with activity. The beach here is fairly rocky, so it might not be best for sports such as volleyball or soccer.
But the waves are good, the water is mild, and the surf is always calling. This spot is a favorite among backpackers and tourists traveling through the town. It is also a massive hot spot for surfers, so if you’re into riding the waves, bring your board along.
I think the real drawcard of El Tunco is that it offers a spectacular spot for sunsets. There are places to sit, albeit rocky, where you can enjoy a spectacular vista over the water. This is one of the best beaches in El Salvador if you’re looking for the perfect Insta-pic.
Best for: Surfing and sunset photos
Features: Restaurants and a bustling town nearby
6. Port of La Libertad – Best Beaches In El Salvador
This beach is also known as Puerto de la Libertad and it is in the actual city of La Libertad. This is one of the best beaches in El Salvador is you’re looking for a full day of fun.
The beach itself is great because of all the facilities that surround it. There are designated bathing spots if you’d like to take a dip, but watersports and surfing aren’t big here.
The real attraction of the La Libertad beach scene is the fresh seafood on offer. There is an open-air fish market where you can purchase fresh fish and many seafood restaurants.
The most popular seafood items here include octopus, shrimp, black clams, and shellfish stew.Locals enjoy La Libertad, so you’ll get a more authentic feel here than, say, at El Tunco.
If you’d like to experience true El Salvador seafood, then this is the place to go. There is also a pier that will make for idyllic photos if you head that way around sunset.
Best for: Seafood, photos, a walk on the pier, an d engaging with the local culture
Features: Seafood market, restaurants, pier, and boardwalk
7. Los Cóbanos
Divers will rejoice in Los Cóbanos and locals and tourists alike enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving in these waters. If you’re looking for a beach that truly looks like a postcard picture, then this is it.
Los Cóbanos boasts a long stretch of golden sand framed by palm trees and azure water. The thatch-roof seafood restaurants along the shore evoke images of a tropical holiday as well.
The shoreline itself is fairly rocky here and home to Central America’s biggest coral reef. That’s why it’s so popular with divers who enjoy taking the plunge to explore marine life and natural beauty.
I also particularly enjoyed Los Cóbanos because of the migratory whales that can be seen from October to February. The whales pass by so closely and in such numbers that you can spot them even from the shore!
The natural beauty is what attracts travelers and locals to Los Cóbanos. And I firmly believe that this is one of the most scenic beaches in El Salvador.
If you’re looking for a true island-feel while on vacation, I highly suggest making a turn at this beach.
Best for: Snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, and seafood
Features: Seafood restaurants, shade, and a coral reef
8. El Sunzal – Best Beaches In El Salvador
Of the best beaches in El Salvador for surfers, El Sunzal definitely takes the cake. It is widely regarded as the top surf spot in El Salvador and it features the characteristic black sand.
Not only that, but it even claims the title of one of the best surfing beaches in the world. This beautiful spot might be a favorite among surfers, but you can also scuba dive and snorkel.
The water here is shallower and better suited to beginner or novice divers and snorkelers. The rocky seabed will ensure that you have plenty to see regardless of how shallow you are.
The surfing conditions here are also suitable for all levels of surfers, and even beginners are welcome. There’re surf instructors dotted along the shore to help you catch a wave even if you’ve never done it before.
Surfers will have a great time riding the waves here due to the serious point break. It is a part of President Bukele’s Surf City project and hosted the 2021 ISA World Championship Games.
Therefore, if you’re looking to visit a bit of legendary surf turf, El Sunzal is the place to go.
Best for: Surfing, snorkeling, and shallow water scuba diving
Features: Seafood restaurants, and surf instructors
9. El Majahual
El Majahual is one of the busier beaches on this list and you can expect it to get fairly crowded. The crowds here are the most significant over the peak season and over weekends, so plan carefully.
However, as with anything else, there is usually a good reason for its popularity. El Majahual is one of the best beaches for swimming and surfing and that is why people flock to it.
Additionally, El Majahual is close to the capital and the large cities in El Salvador. This proximity to all the activity is what makes it one of the best beaches in El Salvador.
If you’re looking for sand and sun and beautiful water and you don’t mind crowds, then you’ll love it. The water is fairly mild and the waves are decent, which makes the conditions excellent.
Because there are a few resorts and seafood restaurants in the area, this spot is popular among tourists. If you’re on the hunt for a vibey spot with a good beach scene, this is it. Otherwise, I’d suggest opting for one of the quieter beaches on this list.
Best for: A lively beach scene and swimming
Features: Beach-side resorts and seafood restaurants
10. Las Flores Beach
El Salvador is a surfer’s paradise, and Las Flores is another beach that is a hotspot for surfers. The waves can get very impressive, but they are wonderful to surf on any given day.
It is also very nice to simply sit on the beach and relax while watching the surfers in the water. This is because the beach is so nice and sheltered due to the towering cliff faces.
The smooth black sand simply calls you to stretch out and sunbathe with a good book in hand. The shoreline is seemingly endless and the views are panoramic.
It is a beautiful spot to watch the waves crash and the surfers play in the water. As an added bonus, the area is covered in thick and lush vegetation, which gives it a tropical feel.
What is interesting is that this is one of the few beaches in El Salvador where you can camp. You can camp right on the sand which gives this beach a hippie-feel and completely relaxed vibe.
Best for: Surfing, sun-tanning and camping on the beach
Features: Cliffs and surfing instructors
11. Bahia de Jiquilisco
If you’re looking for paradise in El Salvador, you’ll find it at Bahia de Jiquilisco. The entirety of the Jiquilisco Bay has been declared a wetland because it is so unique.
It is an incredibly ecologically diverse area and therefore it needs to be protected. If you’re lucky, you may even see some of the wonderful animals that call this place home.
Bahia de Jiquilisco is the home of 4 different marine turtle species, 90 different bird species, and several land mammals. You can also take a boat tour to see the spider monkeys on the main protected islands in the bay.
There are many places to stay right around the bay, understandably, and I highly suggest checking in. This will allow you to take tours to see the most of the bay and what it has to offer.
The lodge at Puerto Barillas offers its own marina as well as several tours that you can take part in. You can access Bahia de Jiquilisco from the lodge and also take a cacao plantation tour or walk or bike tours.
Best for: Tours and seeing a protected wetland including various animal and bird species
Features: All-inclusive lodges, boat tours, sportfishing, bird watching, walking, and biking tours
12. Playa Los Almendros
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The majority of this list of best beaches in El Salvador have long stretches of black sand. That is what makes this part of the world so unique, the volcanic nature of the earth surrounding the sea.
But if you want to see a rarity in El Salvador, I recommend visiting Playa Los Almendros. This beach has brilliant, white sand which is fairly uncommon in this area.
It is a little off the beaten track, which means that it is usually not as crowded or as busy. This is nice if you are looking for a relaxed sun-tanning day that includes lazing about on a quiet beach.
The beach is crescent-shaped and there are man-made swimming holes on either end. This is wonderful for those that want to take a dip in calmer waters.
The beach is also dotted with palm trees which makes finding a naturally shady spot to sit an absolute breeze.
Best for: A quieter beach scene, swimming, and calm water
Features: Palm trees and man-made pools, please note that services aren’t readily available here
13. Playa El Tamarindo
I have already mentioned a few of the quieter beach scenes in El Salvador, and this is one as well. Playa El Tamarindo is fairly undeveloped and so it doesn’t draw the large crowds that the others do.
However, what it lacks in services and facilities, it more than makes up for in views. This is easily one of the most beautiful beaches in El Salvador and it’s at the tip of the peninsula.
Therefore, you can sit here and enjoy views over the coast of Nicaragua and the Conchagua Volcano. It is also possible to see almost all of the islands of the Fonseca Gulf from the beach.
The breathtaking views make this beach a favorite among photographers and influencers. So, although you shouldn’t expect crowds, do remember your own camera!
Best for: A remote and quiet beach setting, photography, and incredible views
Features: None except the natural beauty
14. Playa Acajutla
Whereas Playa El Tamarindo is one of the remote and quiet beaches in El Salvador, Playa Acajutla is the opposite. This beach is a tourist heaven with all the infrastructure and amenities that you can wish for.
But the natural beauty of this beach is equally impressive with caves and cliff faces carved by the ocean. This is a fairly popular surf spot with two surf breaks and you can expect to see a few boards in the water.
But the calm conditions are ideal for a refreshing swim after which you can grab some seafood on the go. After a day spent at the beach, you can explore the fisherman’s wharf where fresh fish is on offer.
Or you can visit the promenade to make the most of the views.
Best for: Surfing, swimming, and a lively tourist scene
Features: A fresh fish market, a promenade, two viewpoints, and multiple restaurants and lodgings
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Visiting the El Salvador Beaches
If you’re looking to visit the best beaches in El Salvador, it is best to time your vacation accordingly. The best time to go would be the drier months which is between November and March.
This avoids the worst heat which hits El Salvador come March and April. The rainy season in El Salvador stretches from May to October, but if you’re looking to surf this may be your best bet.
The surfing conditions in El Salvador are significantly better during the wet season. Regarding the temperature, it varies very little throughout the year and you can expect the coast to be consistently hot.
But as you’ll be headed that way for the beach scene, I’d say that is just perfect. If you are planning a holiday or short getaway be sure to check out or website TravelCroc.com.