Along the Pacific Coast of El Salvador there are several beach towns to choose from to visit for a few days… or weeks. El Zonte was described as a quieter, more low key place to visit compared to La Libertad (port city) or El Tunco so I headed there for 3 days, 4 nights of sun, surf, reading and delicious food.
This small stretch of black sand beach has apparently been experiencing a boom in the past five years, but to me it looked quaint and unspoiled by mass development. The shoreline was dotted with beautiful houses of the wealthy minority and plenty of hostels have snagged up valuable beachfront property, but it hasn’t been commercialized at all. Every day or two a pickup truck full of produce would come around, blasting an arrival notice from a blow horn mounted on their roof. Local restaurant meals were between 50 cents and 4 dollars. Giant bottles of beer were $2. There were no clubs or anything or that sort.
I stayed at probably the most popular hostel in El Zonte, Esencia Nativa. The owner, Alex, is a former surf champion and has built everything from the pool chairs to the gate door. The rooms were reasonable and clean, the restaurant was yummy and the atmosphere was the best around.
My days there were spent reading from my favorite hammock spot above the kitchen, stopping only to enjoy the view of the Pacific, order a smoothie or cool off in the pool. Rough, I know. On the second day I decided to try a surf lesson. The waves were daunting, but my instructor took me into the whitewash to practice. An hour of being thrashed around and I was no where closer to grasping the art of surfing. Yes, I expected to be on the big waves after one hour. Okay no, not really. It was a frustrating and humbling experience though. And now I know where I stand upper body strength wise!
To get there is only 45-60 min from San Salvador (2 buses) or the Int’l Airport, making this a very accesible destination. It was definitely popular among hard core surfers, some staying for weeks. I would say the ratio of men to women there was easily 10:1 from what I saw (and no, I didn’t know this before I went, ha). Even though I’m not a surfer, I still had a wonderful time wandering the beaches and relaxing.