Surf City El Salvador, positioning El Salvador as a top tourist destination

By Eddie Vasquez  | Updated on Aug 10th, 2022
Surf City El Salvador
Surfing in El Salvador.

Surf City El Salvador is a tourist project created by president Bukele to bring tourists to El Salvador. It focuses on showcasing the fantastic Salvadoran surf spots and beautiful beaches. Surf City strives to make the country a top tourist destination and change the world’s perception of El Salvador.

The project started as a presidential campaign promise by Nayib Bukele. He planned to develop the Salvadoran coastal area to promote the impressive Salvadoran beaches to attract tourists to all aspects of Salvadoran tourism.

Surf City is divided into two circuits or areas. The first area is in the central part of El Salvador near the international airport, from El Obispo beach to Playa El Zonte, also known as Bitcoin beach. This area includes top surfing beaches such as El Tunco, Punta Roca, El Zunsal, and El Zonte.

The second area of the Surf City project is in Eastern El Salvador, from El Espino beach to Playa El Cuco. This area has two of the best surf spots in El Salvador, Punta Mango, and Las Flores.

El Salvador Surf City
Surfing in El Salvador.

Launching Surf City El Salvador

The project started as a presidential campaign promise by Nayib Bukele. He planned to develop the Salvadoran coastal area and promote the impressive beaches to attract tourists to all aspects of Salvadoran tourism.

The project was a success from the start in 2019; El Salvador was selected to host the 2020 ISA World Surfing Games, which were the last qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics. El Salvador beat four other nations looking to host these surfing games, Costa Rica, Spain, New Zealand, and Japan.

The last Olympic Qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics gathered some of the world’s best surfers competing for national pride, Gold Medals, and the remaining 12 Olympic slots. The top performers at this surfing event had the chance to win a spot in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

The Surf City El Salvador project continues to bring tourists and top-notch surfing events to El Salvador. in 2021, the ALAS Pro Tour 2021 Surfing Championship was held at Punta Roca Beach, one of the best surf locations in the country.

And in 2022, El Salvador hosted event number seven of the 2022 World Surfing League Championship and the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship. Hosting these highly regarded surf events in 2022 is a vote of confidence for the surf City project.

Improving infrastructure in the coastal area

To make Surf City El Salvador (area one) a success, the government declared 21 kilometers of the coastal area a Tourist Zone of National Interest. The tourist zone extends from Walter Thilo Deininger Park to El Zonte Beach.

According to government officials, this area has more than 250 businesses in food, accommodation, recreation, information, and transportation. All of these businesses will benefit from the new infrastructure.

By declaring the stretch as a Tourist Zone of National Interest, the Salvadoran Government will focus on development. It will provide technical training for businesses and will help with tourism promotion.

These businesses will help capture and satisfy the needs and demands of all tourists who visit the Surf City El Salvador area.

We have the first Tourist Zone of National Interest in the Marine Coastal Strip. It will allow us to generate a comprehensive intervention of the destination that will multiply its benefits to other tourism segments.” Morena Valdez, Ministry of Tourism.

Surfers at El Tunco beach. Photo by Edwin Nuñes

In 2020, the Salvadoran government spent more than $9 million in strategic investment for Surf City infrastructure in La Libertad. It included improving the La Libertad pier, the fishing market, and the new Mercado del Mar. Also, the government is improving roads, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, etc.

In February 2020, the La Libertad bypass was completed. It is a modern road that connects with the Salvadoran coastline without going through the Port of La Libertad’s urban area. President Bukele announced that the newly completed road was to be called “Camino a Surf City,” or road to Surf City.

Surfing in El Salvador
Surfing in El Salvador.

2022-2023 investment in the Surf City El Salvador project

Improving the infrastructure of the coastal area is a top priority of the Bukele administration. One of the first steps in the surf city project was the construction of the road to Surf City Highway. This road makes it easier to travel to the coast from the capital city and vice versa.

The investment in tourism continued in the following year. On February 8th, 2022, president Nayib Bukele announced an investment of $100 million to continue positioning the country as a top tourist destination.

The investment will include the Surf City initiative and other improvements. It will create water treatment plants, Tourism Police stations, urban corridors, bike paths, tourist boardwalks, viewpoints, and lifeguard towers.

On August 2022, president Bukele announced that Surf City circuit two in eastern El Salvador was getting a US$96 million investment to improve the infrastructure along the coast, especially the roads. Towards the end of August, while inauguration Sunset park in La Libertad, President Bukele announce an investment of US$203 million in Surf City circuit one.

Sunset Park El Salvador
Sunset Park in La Libertad.

Improving international travel logistics to Surf City El Salvador

The Salvadoran government is making considerable investments to improve the logistics of getting to tourist locations. In 2022, El Salvador finished the expansion to the international airport; it will make it easier for tourists to visit El Salvador and its famous beaches.

In 2021, El Salvador completed the Surf City highway, which makes it easy to move between the beaches, the international airport, and the nation’s capital.

Avianca Plane
Photo by @CEPASV

looking to change the world’s perception of El Salvador

From the start, Nayib Bukele explained that he wanted to use surf to change the perception people worldwide have of El Salvador; therefore, he pushed for the creation of Surf City.

With Surf City El Salvador, Bukele and his Cabinet attempt to improve the country’s image abroad, which usually revolves around violence, gangs, and forced migration.

The Surf City project started in 2019; thus far, it has helped El Salvador show a different side often overshadowed by its disturbing history. The surf tournaments held in El Salvador have brought tourists that otherwise might have never visited.

These new visitors have shared their experiences worldwide and have demonstrated that El Salvador is a safe country to visit. And also that the nation has excellent beaches for surfing and relaxation.