El Salvador has certainly come a long way from its past reputation.

Once considered a country too dangerous to travel to thanks to its bloody civil war, the Central American country — the only one without a Caribbean coastline — has put its tragic past behind it to become a tourism hotspot. In addition to the small, tranquil villages and bustling cities, it is the first country to adopt Bitcoin as a form of legal tender, as AfroTech reported. The country also is known to the world for its gorgeous beaches, calm waters, golden white sand and perennially warm weather.

It also helps that it’s home to one of Central America’s most stunning natural wonders, and flights to the country can run lower than $400 (depending on when and where you buy, of course).

Beaches in El Salvador: Catch a Wave — or Catch Some Rays

Perfect Wave cites El Salvador as being the premier Central American country for surf enthusiasts, particularly thanks to its “virgin coastline” and perfect waves and breaks.

Surely, there are ways to enjoy the beaches in El Salvador if you’re only staying for 24 hours. For those, however, who are looking to stay a little longer for a honeymoon, a return back to their roots, or even just an ever-increasingly needed break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life — these eight beaches are a must-see on your next excursion.

Playa El Zonte

El Zonte El Salvador
Erick Chevez/UnSplash

Located in the La Libertad district — the district best known for its surf spots — the Playa El Zonte provides a tranquil, isolated environment who don’t want to compete with thousands of other tourists and locals for their Pacific waves. With pristine beaches, tasty local food (pupusas and casamientos are a must-try), and affordable hotels starting at just $31/night, Playa El Zonte has definitely earned its spot on our list of the best beaches in El Salvador.

El Tunco

El Salvador El Tunco
Drew Dempsey/UnSplash

Like Playa El Zonte, El Tunco is a popular surfing spot. But unlike Playa El Zonte, El Tunco has interesting beach caves made of stones smoothed out naturally by the crashing waves. It’s worth checking out these all-natural wonders during the country’s dry season (November to April), but no matter when you go, El Tunco is definitely one of the best beaches in El Salvador — and, indeed, in the world.

Playa Los Cobanos

Playa Los Cobanos El Salvador
El Salvador Travel Network

Playa Los Cobanos is located on the west side of the country in the district of Sonsonante, so it’s a bit a ways away from the other two beaches. And unlike the other two beaches — which are great for surfing — Playa Los Cobanos has a peaceful, more tranquil vibe, with calming waters and a huge heron population that can be seen diving for their daily meal. (By the way: did we mention that seafood is plentiful here in El Salvador, and it’s all freshly caught? Because…yes.) For those who are looking for the best beaches without all the hustle and bustle of a crazy surf, Playa Los Cobanos will definitely tickle your fancy.

Punta Roca

Considered the crown jewel of El Salvador’s surf beaches, Punta Roca has been a tourist favorite since the 1950s. Cited for its long right-hand wave that can reach heights of 11 feet (and sometimes more!), Punta Roca is not for the faint of heart — or the inexperienced surfer. But it’s definitely one of the best beaches in El Salvador, and it’s great to stop by sometime in either June or July for a maximum point break.

El Sunzal

For tourists that are looking for a private beach experience, El Sunzal is the way to go. Consider a black sand beach with smooth volcanic rocks (so don’t go barefoot!), El Sunzal is world famous for its friendly locals and bustling nightlife.

Playa El Esteron

Named the third-best beach in the entire country of El Salvador, Playa El Esteron is not as well-known as some of the other beaches on this list. But it doesn’t have the crazy waves that the other beaches have, which makes it perfect for those who want to enjoy the sun and the surf without the waves. Kayaking, too, is very popular here.