10 Surf Travel Tips for El Salvador

10 Surf Travel Tips for El Salvador

10 Tips for a Buenaso Tiempo in El Salvador

Much is written about El Salvador. Surf travelers, journalists, and bloggers have covered how the infrastructure and safety have improved, how the turmoil from the civil war in the 80’s and 90’s has dissipated, and how the gang situation doesn't target tourists.

So what's left? Below are a few travel tips I've learned over the years for maximizing your time in and out of the water in the land known as, The Savior.

 

1. Wake Up Early - Go Surf

Did you know first light changes depending on the time of year? In February, it can be as late as 5:10 am. In June, it's 4:10am.

Check the time of sunrise and first light. On the night before, get your gear ready - layout your boardshorts, rashie, wax your board.  Winds tend to be mild and variable, and crowds can be minimal. Also, don't forget to charge your camera and make sure it's functioning and dial in your Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed, as the first two hours of the morning are excellent for capturing golden light photos.

 

 

2. Meet Some Locals

Learn Spanish. 43% of the world population is bilingual. And most locals will be happy to teach you a word or two.

If it’s your first time, you should hire a surf guide at least once. Most speak a bit of English and can toss out a few pointers on where to sit in the lineup. There's a great Spanish School in El Tunco with really fun, encouraging teachers. It's a great way to learn Spanish near great surfing.

 

3. Use Sunscreen Made For Surfing

There's something luxurious about a high end sunscreen, that's worth every penny. My favorites are clear Head Hunters and Watermen’s.

Some people like zinc, and that comes in some awesome colors so you can wear warpaint. Also, certain rash guards have more SPF protection built-in than others.

 

 

 

4. Protect Yourself From Zika

There are two theories. a) Intense Chemicals b) Not Intense Chemicals. Serious insect repellant works, but leaves you feeling a bit gross and can get into your mouth, especially because you'll be putting it on around dinner time. 

Since mosquitos come out at dawn and dusk (a phenomenon known as crepuscular),  it's more enjoyable to just cover up my bare skin by wearing pants, socks, shoes and a light long sleeve during those times.

If you want to know what it's actually like to catch Zika in El Salvador, here's one person's real account.

 

 

 

6. Be Like King Neptune - Know The Tides

Some waves break better at low tide. Some at mid or high tide. It’s a good idea to look at a tide chart for the area. You can reference a surf guide book like The World Stormrider Guide or Surfline.com to see what tides are normally best.

Also, incoming tides make the wave less steep and easier to surf, but can bring powerful sets. Outgoing tides are more hollow and have steeper take offs.

Check out the tide charts below and match the dates for your trip:

Tide Chart For West El Salvador

Tide Chart For East El Salvador

 

7. Chicken Is A Safe Bet

If you’re gonna eat meat, chicken is likely the safest. That said, what’s a trip to the coast without getting some fresh seafood? Fried fillet is generally good, ceviche can be as well, and shrimp is likely fine too.

Be careful with oysters. They can get you. Papusas are the local specialty and a must try, especially at a nice price of three for a dollar.

 

7. Try, Try, Try Not To Be A Kook

Don’t fall into a hole. Don’t step on a sharp stick, glass, or metal object (this happens to someone every time). Know where to paddle out. Don’t snake. Don’t drop in. Know the difference. Don’t get sunburnt. Don’t drive at night. Keep your belongings organized. Expect the bus to be late. Don’t get super drunk. Bring a water bottle. Stretch before you surf.



8. Gift A Wave To A Stranger

A wave will come straight to you, and you should let it go. Give the gift to the guy or girl next to you. Because it makes surfing a bit more social, and it’s good to meet people, especially when you're on vacation.

 



9. Do Something Other Than Surf

See those mountains? They're tall, but on a four wheeler, they're much easier to ascend! Rent them from Guillermo outside of the town of El Tunco. Or visit a waterfall. Have a photo shoot at the Mayan Ruins. Take a horseback ride. Visit the street markets in La Libertad.

 

 

10. Create A Memento

Bring a camera or a notebook and pen, or watercolor, or any way to capture your experience. It’ll give you something to look back on and will connect your creation to the trip. You’ll appreciate it when you’re old and crusty in a retirement home,

 

 

 

9. Do Something Other Than Surf

See those mountains? They're tall, but on a four wheeler, they're much easier to ascend! Rent them from Guillermo outside of the town of El Tunco. Or visit a waterfall. Have a photo shoot at the Mayan Ruins. Take a horseback ride. Visit the street markets in La Libertad.