This itinerary should take you around 14 days, but the longer you stay the more you see of course.
Punta Mango/ Playa El Cuco:
Punta Mango and El Cuco are around 15km from one another. In both places there is pretty much surf, surf and more surf with chilled vibes and friendly locals.
El Cuco is pretty chilled little village with a slushy yet consistent break. Great for beginners.
The main hostel right on the beach is La Tortuga Verde with USD$10 per night dorms.
Punta Mango is a right point break for intermediate to advanced surfers.
Punta Mango Surf Resort may not be for travellers on a tight budget but the rooms are beautiful, food is amazing and it’s positioned right on the beach. The surrounding area is beautiful and jungly.
Playa El Tunco:
Super chilled surf spot on the weekdays but on the weekends it can become a bit of a party town with Salvadoreños coming from the city to get their groove on. From Thursday onwards there is ladies night in different bars (depending on the day) involving extremely cheap or free drinks for ladies.
For surfers, it’s the kind of place that you go for a few days and leave a few weeks later. The locals are super friendly and the hostels bring in a great groups of people.
The surf is super versatile with breaks for all levels. The two most popular breaks being Sunzal (point break with crumbly rights. For beginners, it’s slow, chilled and easy to ride but a loooooong paddle out). Bocana, alternatively is more so for intermediate to advanced surfers with a sharp right and left hand break but beware of the rocks.
Layback Hostel (USD$7/dorm) is one of the cheaper options and really is pretty laid back with a constant supply of super chilled surfers and great communal areas.
Tunco Hostel (USD$8/dorm) is another option with good vibes and great people, a pool and great chill out areas.
El Tunco makes a great base for day trips including El Zonte, K59, La Libertad, San Salvador, Taminique waterfalls and close by volcanos. Day trips, of course are always better with a car, but local transport is pretty good and very cheap.
Taminique is a quiet, quaint town about a half hour bus ride from El Tunco. You can book with a tour (from El Tunco) or just catch a bus alone. Once arriving, you’ll be offered a guide in Taminique which I highly recommend. The walk is steep and can be difficult in a few places. It’s not so easy to navigate if you haven’t been there before. It’s worth it once you reach the crystal clear water. Also: ask to see the furthest waterfalls. It's worth it!
Puerto La Libertad:
La Libertad is just grocery shopping for a lot of locals and long term tourists from El Tunco. In La Libertad you can get most of what you need with huge fruit and veggie markets and a big seafood market. The seafood market is cool to check out with a bit of everything seafood including some delicious and cheap ceviche. The fish is ridiculously cheap (go to the end of the jetty) and all freshly caught.
Additionally, La Libertad boasts a world class surf break. Punta Roca fires if you can dodge the rocks.
Ruta de las Flores:
A route spanning around 40km through beautiful quaint towns including, Sonsonate, Juayúa, Ataco, Apaneca, and Ahuachapán.
On the weekends there are markets and great local food options. Also great coffee!
The towns boast stunning views, waterfalls (Juayúa), churches, coffee plantations, cobblestone streets and a little rural colonial flair.
History and nature with a modern twist. The city is packed with museums, monuments, cathedrals, theatres, galleries, restaurants, nightlife and shopping centres while on the outskirts you can visit National Parks such as El Boqueron, crater lakes and volcanos.
Lago Llopango or Lago Coatepeque
Both are crater lakes, Llopango is closer to San Salvador while Coatepeque is closer to Santa Ana. Surrounded by luscious green flora and volcanos the lakes are super scenic. Plenty to do including canoeing, kayaking, paddlboarding, jet skiing, hiking and more. There’s a multitude of accomodation options for every budget some places even include canoes or paddle boards.
Colonial city which has been built up from the coffee industry. Santa Ana cathedral is a must see, while other popular sites include museums, theatres, churches and markets. Great base to see Tazumal ruins, Ruta de las Flores, Lago Coatepeque and surrounding volcanos.
Ruins: Tazumal & Joya de Ceren
Tazumal remains the most famous Mayan ruin in El Salvador.
Once a trade centre, archelogoists estimate that the site had links as far as central Mexico. Furthermore, the pyramids where used as burial sites for human sacrifice which is showcased in the onsite museum.
Joya de Ceren is also very notable as it showcases the everyday life of the Mayan people rather than large ceremonial pyramids of the elites. Here you see remnants of the houses of everyday people with items inside them. It’s remained in pretty good condition as the community was encased and buried in volcanic dust from a nearby explosion.
There’s a bunch of cool places we missed, such as: