Playa El Tunco

written by Roxana Revolone photos: Lena Johannessen

No longer in the shadow of its more-famous neighbors Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua, El Salvador is now positioning itself on the tourist map as a more-than-attractive destination. The internationally recognized Lonely Planet list of “10 Best Tourist Destinations in the Word of 2010” includes, for the first time, this tiny Central American country as a not-to-miss destination.

As you think La Antigua when you think of Guatemala, the word on everyone’s lips when it comes to El Salvador is Playa El Tunco. Although the country is brimming with amazing places to visit, this small surfing beach has turned into a meeting point of international tourists as no other place in the country.

The morning starts with the first rays of sun that color the scenery while eager bodies carry their surfboards to dive into the first waves of the day. After enjoying the morning waves or just a refreshing swim in the warm Pacific waters, visitors can choose from a variety of breakfast options for the first meal of the day. There’s something here for every budget and taste, but all with one thing in common—the view of the natural rock just offshore that from one angle looks like a pig (therefore, its native name El Tunco, Salvadoran slang for pig).

El Tunco is not only for surfers; families and folks of all ages flock here to walk on the black volcanic beach, get a tan, fish or go snorkeling, kayaking or kite surfing. This area has turned into a vibrant destination, and each year new businesses serving foreign tourists open their doors.

In the past tourists had little to choose from other than surfing lessons and some restaurants. Now visitors can choose from a wide range of services such as internet cafés, coffee shops, convenience stores, arts and crafts, surf board rental and repair, vehicle and motorbike rentals, guide services and tours, pizzerias and vegetarian restaurants.

The beautiful sunsets of Playa El Tunco are ideal backdrops for practicing yoga or taking a romantic walk along the beach. Afterward, visiting one of the many bars or enjoying live music by candle light on the beach may be an appealing way to end the day and to charge your batteries for another day in the sun.

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