I’m a beach girl for the ones that don’t know me. Beside the beach I love the ocean too and love to surf the waves as long they are not too big. I was getting to my last part of my nine weeks travel trip and I always plan a holiday within the holiday; how I call it. Time to chill, relax after the traveling. El Zonte at La Costa de Bálsamo is the perfect spot for that; relax, read your book, surf, chill and enjoy the sunsets! Next stop is El Tunco which is a coastal town too but more busier than El Zonte. First the inspirations and tips on El Zonte.
Next stop El Zonte and El Tunco at La Costa del Bálsamo. From Juayúa the chicken bus number 249 runs every 15 min to Sonsonate in ±45 min for 0,45$. At the station of Sonsonate take the 287 bus to La Libertad; one leaving at 6:00AM and the other at 15:30PM directly to the pacific coast (±2 hours). Tell the driver where you need to get off and they will help you. The road is beautiful and great to see the ocean and cliffs of the El Salvador coast. An alternative route is to go to San Salvador first and then to the coast; this service runs more frequently but is longer with more changing busses in the capital city which is not my favorite option…
Tip: With the Maps.me the off-line map App, you can see where you are and remind the driver/helper to stop the bus in time.
My next stop is only a short bus ride to El Tunco and from there to the airport of San Salvador. The bus ride was a challenge, I went on a Sunday and that meant less bus traffic between El Zunte and El Tunco.
Tip: Ask the locals in advance the timing of the bus, go early; more busses running in the morning I was told.
After waiting more than 45 minutes, we (I was waiting with another tourist) were offered a car ride to El Tunco. I’m not keen on hitchhiking but this felt good; I had company, new car, friendly man and it was only a short ride ±15 min.
Things to do in El Zonte
El Zonte is a small town at the La Costa de Bálsamo of El Salvador. The town is divided by Rio El Zonte. So check on which side you are of the river there is one bridge that crosses the main highway CA-2.
Surf the El Salvadorian Waves
El Zonte is one of the main surf spots in El Salvador. El Zonte is known for the more beginners wave compared to El Tunco. In town you can rent boards and take lessons if you want. During my visit the waves were huge! Not many people in the water and a lot of white water in the ocean. My ear infection withhold me from getting into the water anyway; not sure if I minded it to be honest…
Visit the Tamanique Waterfalls
A short drive from El Zonte you can visit the crystal clear Tamanique waterfalls. To get to the waterfalls you need to do a steep hike; so please bring good footwear. I didn’t visit these waterfalls, I went to the ones in Juayúa.
Watch the Sunset
Watch the sunset!! Walk to the other side of the river (right hand side when facing the ocean) and walk towards to sun. Here you can make cool pictures with the palm trees in the background.
Where to eat and sleep in El Zonte
I booked my private room with air-conditioning (38US$ per night) at Esencia Nativa two days in advance; this accommodation in El Zonte is located right at the beach. The place has a swimming pool and fully accommodates the surf activities including yoga classes at 9:00AM at the deck. In the weekends it was very busy with cars and local people that visited this place to hang out. I haven’t tried the restaurant; I preferred to go out.
Comedor El Teco: I went here to have the Tipico breakfast (2US$) and spot the surf at the same time. A lot of surfers hang out here and chill after their surf. Food is good but the view from the hammock is even better!! Right in front of the main road on the rocks; walk to the right and then left to get to get to the entrance.
Pupuseria Geisy: I went to this popular place almost every night to eat Pupusas!! I had never eaten his before, except in Juayúa. I love Pupusas; it is a mix between a pizza calzone and a grilled sandwich (tosti in Dutch). Dough with cheese as a basis and you can choose the filling; fish, vegetables or meat. All the dished will be accompanied with red sauce and cabbage salad. For one meal (2-3 pupusas) including a diet coke cost me ±4US$. Walk the main street up halfway to the CA- 2 road to get to this simple but tasty Pupuseria.
My accommodation was located at the left side of the river Rio El Zonte; when facing the ocean. On the right side of the river; which you can’t cross without getting wet, as least in March when I was there, you can find more accommodations and restaurants. Wipeout Hostal is one of them, here the sunset activities take place at least in the weekend. There was acoustic music and a lot of people gathered here to watch the stunning sunset with a drink. Next to Wipeout Hostal, El Dorado looked really nice and trendy (minimum booking seven nights…).
Tip: I would not cross this river at night; right after sunset I went back to my side. Be aware that you have to cross the river and your cloth could get wet; wear shorts or bikini!