El Salvador Introduction
Located just 25 miles or so south of the capital, San Salvador, La Libertad and its main wave, Punta Roca, are the anchors of El Salvador’s surf scene on the Costa del Balsamo. There are at least a dozen excellent waves within about an hour’s drive of La Libertad, so if you don’t feel like battling for waves in town, a short car ride will remedy that.
Almost all of El Salvador’s coast faces dead south, so it only really gets south and southwest swell — which means summertime energy hits its myriad headlands at a fantastic angle, generating long, well-shaped point waves and thumping beachbreaks. Spring through fall is the best time of the year for waves, and don’t be surprised if you luck into a swell that puts a knot in your stomach.
There are some remote breaks that will require a boat to access.
The best time of year to visit is March and April, officially the last months of the dry season, when temperatures are high but south and southwest swells start arriving. By May, typically the wet season is in full effect, and by “wet” we mean WET, as in “torrential downpours.” The rainy season is cooler and easier to sleep in, but so much water falling from the sky can make travel more difficult.
Water temps fluctuate very little, remaining at a constant 80 degrees year-round, so don’t worry about packing too much rubber — maybe a vest or a springsuit if you’re thin-skinned — even in the dead of winter.
The spots in and immediately around La Libertad get crowded on weekends due in large part to the area’s close proximity to San Salvador (pop. 1.3 million), but Punta Roca isn’t the only spot around. Heading west from La Libertad, one passes several surfable headlands, some of which host near-world class waves, and many with small, if any, crowd. A little exploring can go a long way.
Apart from a serious mosquito problem around Zunzal, El Salvador’s biggest hazards are the rocky shorelines around many of the pointbreaks, especially at Punta Roca, where the rocks get really slippery. Be sure to bring a pair of booties to save your feet from becoming urchin pincushions, unless you’re a lifelong Burleigh Heads local and you know how to deal with a pulsing swell and a brutal rock dance.
Midsummer travelers will come to understand what the word “downpour” means, with rain occasionally making roads impassable.
Also worth mentioning is that while El Salvador is no longer in a civil war, its population lives in large part below the poverty level; therefore, petty theft occurs occasionally. Monitor your valuables.
Summer is both the wet season and when the biggest surf arrives from the Southern Hemisphere. If you’re traveling in mid-July, bring your rain gear, and expect to see the surf at some of the points occasionally grow to 15 feet…and hold. During the six months from May to October, El Salvador gets an average of 30-plus inches of rain, and the air temperature hovers in the low to mid-80s.
Fall oversees the end of the rainy season and much of the south swell activity (and occasionally bad southern winds), but that doesn’t mean you won’t still happen into some incredible waves and some wild weather.
Winter is the dry season, which comes accompanied by higher temperatures and smaller, less-consistent surf. Not typically the time of year people choose to travel to El Salvador.
Spring is El Salvador’s glory season. Because it’s the tail end of the dry season it’s not too rainy, but it’s a bit cooler and the arrival of the first south swells of the year see the points fire on all cylinders. Late March/early April is the sweet spot according to frequent travelers.
Experienced surfers can keep it no longer secret: El Salvador has the best waves in America. Occupation Daredevil Steve-O traveled to the smallest country in Central America to catch the perfect wave. Recently, El Salvador host of Reef Pro and put the country on the best surfers from around the world. The website www.elsalvador-toerisme.nl selected five surf spots in El Salvador.
The perfect wave
La Libertad means ‘freedom’ in Spanish. At the same time it is also the name that surfers have given to El Salvador. The Pacific Ocean provides El Salvador throughout the year the best waves. The waves break late and the temperature of the tropical sea water is 29 degrees Celsius warm. The continuous flow of waves along a coastline of 320 kilometers makes El Salvador a paradise for surfers.
Steve-O defies surf spots
Recently released daredevil Steve-O, known from the popular MTV series “Jackass,” a visit to El Salvador. His mission was clear: to compete with the best waves in America. US celebrity had more than 1 million fans know that El Salvador through its Facebook page is a great surfing destination. “Yeah dude, El Salvador rocks” said Steve-O.
Reef Pro El Salvador
The 22-year-old Brazilian Peterson Crisanto won the prestigious Reef Pro El Salvador on July 15, 2013. The Brazilian defeated the world’s best surfers in La Libertad, El Salvador. Reef Pro surfing event is one of the largest in the world, was broadcast live from Punta Roca and sponsored by the surf brand Reef Pro.
A paradise for surfers
Regardless of the best waves, El Salvador is also a good holiday destination. Along the beaches are much more laid back places with good food where surfers congregate. Consider: La Guitarra (bar / lounge), D’Rocas (beach bar) and Malecon (fresh sea food).
Top 5 Best Surf Spots in El Salvador
1. Punta Roca is 30 minutes from the capital, San Salvador. The best waves are found here. Experienced surfers shooting from the so-called tubes.
2. Punta Mango is less known, but no less beloved. Ideal for experienced surfers. Also called the big secret of El Salvador.
3. Las Flores is known for its long waves. Sometimes up to 300 meters wide. The point-break waves are suitable for all surfers.
4. Sunzal is located in Playa El Tunco, about 10 kilometers west of La Libertad. Four waves break here daily. Waiting to be discovered.
5. K59 is not accessible to all surfers. The waves are perfect, but hit separately on a rocky beach. Only suitable for the real surf dudes so.