If you love the beach and everything about it, then La Libertad is the destination for you. Inspired by the wonderful theme of freedom and liberty, the department of La Libertad offers the closest beaches to the capital city, with great waves for surfing.
La Libertad is Seafood and Surf
One of the best excuses to visit El Salvador is called Liberty or La Libertad in Spanish. We are talking about the beaches located in the southern department of La Libertad, the closest to the capital city San Salvador at only 32 kilometers.
The most important beaches are spread along the coastal highway, from Kilometers 30 to 53. El Puerto de la Libertad (The Pier) is the main entrance to the town of La Libertad, and its original wooden pier was made in the year 1579. The pier serves fishing boats and also holds a market where you can purchase some of the freshest and cheapest seafood items around.
El Obispo is the beach area located east of the pier and it has ongoing commercial development due to the construction of a modern shopping mall right on the main street. Punta Roca to the western side of the Pier offers some of the best waves for surfing due to the consistency and quality of the waves all year round. The area is also very popular for the many restaurants in the area and because it is the closest one to San Salvador.
Beaches to the West of La Libertad
Further west, you will find the beaches of Conchalio, San Blas, El Cocal, El Majahual and at Kilometer 42, the beach of El Sunzal - the second most important place for surfing (especially during the months of November to February). It's also very famous for the relaxed, almost bohemian ambience and the many dining options of small diners to fancy restaurants.
In El Sunzal you will also have no trouble looking for a surf guide or instructor since now many good local surfers make a living by teaching foreigners and Salvadorans how to surf while also renting surfboards. Renting a surfboard for the day will run you around $12.
El Sunzal is divided into two beaches by a rock everybody calls El Tunco (The Pig). The other side is called el Tunco and it's not advisable for foreigners to try to surf on this beach since it's one of the few areas left that are still designated for local population only. Since the number of people visiting the beaches in La Libertad has increased considerably in the last few years, every now and then you will hear of beach parties or batucadas (African drums) being organized until the early hours in the morning.
El Zonte is located on Kilometer 53 and it is also another good option when you're looking for a place to practice surfing. El Zonte is very popular among tourits who come looking for more, far from the main town hubbub. A good number of hotels and hostels offer their services, but reservations are advised - especially during weekends and high seasons.
On the road from San Salvador to La Libertad at Kilometer 25 is located El Canopy. This is a forest area where people use cables to hang from different heights and slide from one tree top onto the other tree top station, seeking an adrenaline rush. The Canopy costs approximately $12 per person.
Protected Tropical Forest
The national park, Walter Thilo Deninger, is located on the littoral road at Kilometer 38. The park is a protected tropical forest with many paths along rivers and small creeks and with heights ranging from 8 to 280 meters above sea level in a dry tropical environment. The park is home to endangered species such as deer, tepezcuintles and garrobos (lizards). One of the most visited places inside the park is the trail known as El Mirador, which offers great views of the Pacific Ocean, and the "Encanto" cave.
In order to be allowed into the park a permit from the Instituto Salvadoreño de Turismo must be requested in advance.
Food and Entertainment
To speak of those things that make La Libertad so popular would be incomplete if we didn't take into consideration the fantastically deliscious dining options you can find. There are - of course - great selections of seafood meal,s but the most important one is by far the creamy seafood soup called Mariscada. Mariscada is a creamy based soup made with crab, shrimp, lobster, clams, fish and more. When visiting one of the many restaurants in the area offering the famous mariscada it is a very big mistake to ask if their own mariscada recipe is the best, since most of the restaurant owners are very proud of their own cooking. Therefore it is recommended, when possible, that you request the opinion of local people before settling on a restaurant.
The tropical heat you can feel at the restaurants located along the beach is spiced up with the music played by the groups of mariachis or combos, especially during the weekends.