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How surf city is bringing tourists from all over to El Salvador

A surfer's dream.

Tourism contributes greatly to the El Salvador economy, with hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Some go for the food, others for the hikes, but many go for the surfing. The beaches are open for surfing every day, but the tourism project known as Surf City is what really draws people to El Salvador’s shores.


Surf City is a project that El Salvador’s president set up in 2019. Part of the project involved developing the country’s coastline and promoting it to surf-fanatics worldwide, in an effort to draw more tourism to El Salvador and change perceptions of the country.

Capitalizing on the country’s fantastic weather, plentiful beaches, and optimal waves was a smart move, and the project has seen great success – so much so, that El Salvador was selected to host the 2020 ISA World Surfing Games, beating out other, much bigger countries for the opportunity. This year, a number of surfing competitions are set to take place at Surf City, signaling a vote of confidence in the project.


With over 45 beaches along the small country’s coastline, there is plenty of choice for surfers of all abilities, from novices to seasoned professionals. The country’s surf scene has been active for half a century, with people from all over visiting to catch some of the incredible right-hand waves; even in the off-season (November–April), the surfing in El Salvador is better than a lot of places.

The best places to surf include La Libertad, which is the heart of the country’s surf scene. With beaches that offer waves for beginners and professionals alike, there’s something for everyone at La Libertad, making it a hugely popular spot. The east coast also offers numerous beaches with spectacular waves that are hidden gems, with far less foot-traffic. The experience at these beaches tends to be a much more personal and intimate one, between only surfer and sea.


The area has blown up thanks to the tourism it’s attracting. There are hundreds of food and drink, accommodation, leisure, recreation, and transportation businesses along the seafront, booming from the volumes of visitors they see. Thanks to the surfing conditions in El Salvador being optimal all year-round, the tourism never needs to stop.


The waves are keeping tourists coming back year after year, and slowly the pre-conceived notions of El Salvador are starting to change. The president’s mission with Surf City was to convert public opinion of the country, to show people that the sensationalist headlines seen across news outlets are not representative of the country as a whole. So far, it seems as if this mission is an ongoing success.

The result of Surf City is proving to be three-fold: it’s raising the global awareness of the surfers’ paradise that can be found along the country’s coast; it’s attracting new tourists everyday and boosting the local economy; and it’s working to change public perceptions of the country.

Rebuilding societies and economies in a post-pandemic world is proving to be a mammoth task worldwide, but countries are getting there. El Salvador’s Surf City project has been an all-round success thus far, bringing global awareness to the country’s surf scene, as well as tourists from all around the world. With this summer shaping up to be hot, tourism in the country – particularly due to the beaches and Surf City – is expected to continue.

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