El Salvador is not yet a popular tourist destination. But Central America’s smallest country has pretty colonial towns, friendly people, beautiful beaches of black and golden sand, and, most importantly, waves that attract surfers from all over the world. Sounds like an underrated destination to us? We’ll prove it right away by immersing you in the gentle atmosphere of El Zonte, a seaside village with a casual attitude toward beauty.
It’s also a great place to immerse yourself in the local Salvadoran culture and enjoy beautiful sunsets while exploring the nearby tropical wonders.
Exactly where is El Zonte located?
It’s a picturesque beach town in El Salvador, located on the country’s famous La Ruta de las Flores. It’s also known for its stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The village is especially popular with surfers for its consistent, famous El Zonte waves and surf-friendly beaches. The laid-back atmosphere, with a handful of small hotels, restaurants and bars, is perfect for visitors looking for a quiet getaway. It maintains the rustic charm that makes places like this so attractive. Despite the understated vibe, there are plenty of reasons to add El Zonte to your El Salvador itinerary.
The best surfing spot in El Zonte
El Salvador is one of the best places in the world to surf, thanks in part to places like El Zonte. Surfers practice their sport here 365 days a year. It’s no wonder that surfing is the name of the game here!
For the best surf spot in El Zonte, stay at Eldorado Surf Resort. Elegant, simple and rustic, this hotel, was founded by Quebecer and surf enthusiast Olivier Dubois. An ode to water sports and relaxation, it’s an intimate little tropical paradise with eleven distinct rooms, across from a surf spot where novice and experienced surfers flock at dawn.
Surf camps are offered here, but you can also stay for a few days and take lessons à la carte. The bar, the hub of the action, is open all day until the wee hours. It serves juices, local beers, snacks, breakfast and lunch. In the evening, everyone gathers around a large communal table to enjoy a relaxed yet refined three-course meal, designed and prepared with quality, local and entirely homemade produce. This is the kind of place that travelers in search of comfort and turnkey service will appreciate.
After surfing, do some yoga!
For those who are more curious, El Zonte is full of other little treasures that can be discovered on foot, in complete peace and quiet. For an unforgettable yoga session, try a class at Esencia Nativa. The practice takes place on an elevated terrace overlooking the sea. In the background you can hear the birds singing and the waves breaking on the black sand. A perfect setting.
Where to eat in El Zonte restaurants
Feeling hungry? Try the $2 desayuno tipico at Merendero El Teco. It’s a simple restaurant with a few wooden tables and benches overlooking the ocean. The menu includes a champion breakfast of scrambled eggs with onions and black bean puree, accompanied by grilled plantain chunks, a few slices of fromage frais, sour cream, and corn tortillas.
And don’t miss the pupusas! They are handmade corn cakes filled with a variety of ingredients (cheese, meat, vegetables, etc.) sold throughout the village.
Our favorite restaurant, though, is a surprising place: El Vikingo. It is the brainchild of Belgian-born, heavily-tattooed Joppe and Gelika. Paradoxically, it is the ultimate meeting place for locals, expats and tourists. Not wanting to compete with El Zonte’s smaller restaurants, the owners offer an eclectic menu of spicy, fragrant Asian noodles, coveted barbecue ribs, hearty burgers and a decadent brownie. You’ll sit on an outdoor patio, a sort of Garden of Eden decorated in a retro-rustic-bohemian-chic style. A fun mix of genres that works perfectly.
The best luxury hotels in El Zonte
To end your trip to El Salvador in style, enjoy the luxury of the very chic hotels that have recently opened in El Zonte. Perched high on the cliffs overlooking the surfing dance floor, get a sunset drink or seafood platter at Puro Surf or Palo Verde. What’s not to like? The infinity pool. The 180-degree views. The meticulous design. All these things make this an oasis of luxury that you won’t want to miss out on.