What a trip!
Just got back from 4 of the best days of surf in my 10 years surfing Guatemala and El Salvador.
2 weeks ago I saw the swell coming and knew at this point it was going to be special. And boy, was it!
We had a fantastic group of 5 for this trip (myself included):
- 2 Aussies (Mitch and Jack)
- 1 Englishman (Kinder)
- 1 American (Charlie)
It was a mixed group in that we didn't know each other (apart from the 2 Aussies boys) prior to the trip but that didn't matter as we all had a super fun time.
Starting point for the trip on the Tuesday was a 5am departure from Antigua where we headed to El Paredon to collect Mitch and Jack who'd been surfing the beach breaks there for 3 days.
We planned to surf there quickly however the swell was a bit straight so we pushed on to the El Salvador border for a hot and sweaty midday crossing.
An hour later and the fabulous El Salvadorian coastline came into full view at the beautiful and always uncrowded Mizata.
4-6ft waves with nobody out was just the sight after 4 hours of driving.
Mizata is the place in El Salvador that "always has a wave" and rarely a crowd to match. In my 10 years of surfing and driving past Mizata I've never seen it less than 1.5 feet and it always seems surfable.
On this day it was certainly a lot bigger than 1.5ft (well overhead to be sure). After much deliberating we pushed forward to El Zonte as 2 of the boys had surfboards waiting for them there and would have to sit out this surf if we were to go in.
On arrival at El Zonte we had lunch and then a fun afternoon warm-up surf which was a great way to start the trip knowing that the real surfing was yet to come.
Wednesday morning dawned and El Zonte was closing out as 6ft swell lines marched into the bay.
We jumped in the car for a 5 minute drive to the idealic "semi-secret spot" where we had the beach to ourselves as 6ft offshore right handers pushed down the point. It really was a moment to pinch ourselves at what we were seeing!
Within minutes we were paddling out as the sun rose over the hills at 5.30am.
2 hours later we came in for breakfast and we were all giddy with excitement! A 2 hour session, nobody else out, 6ft right handers, 30c water, what a way to start the trip!
Now it was time for the main dish... The world famous Punta Roca at La Libertad, thought by many to be the best wave in all of Central America.
We arrived at 9.30am to see 6-8ft sets grinding down the point with the odd bigger one. Glassy conditions and less than 10 guys out. As good as surfing gets!
A 3 hour session ensued that will be remembered by all. All of us got set waves that ran for 200-300 metres with big drops and speed runs that had us all pumped with adrenalin.
Coming in at 1pm, surfed out and a little sunburnt, we all knew that the trip was already one to remember.
24 hours earlier on the trip across from Guatemala I'd told all the boys about this wave and that if we scored it (which seemed very likely) that they would be seeing some of the best waves they'd imagine. To score it A-grade and with 6 or so other guys out within their first 24 hours in El Salvador really was about as good an introduction to surfing in this part of the world as one could possibly want.
Surfed out for the day having clocked up 5 hours of perfection prior to 1pm, we chilled for the rest of the afternoon in El Tunco. Rest was needed as the next day promised to be even bigger and we were heading 3 hours east to Las Flores and Punta Mango.
Thursday, 3.15am and the alarm went off.
Nearly 3 hours of driving awaited us as we all piled into the car for the 3.30am departure.
Surprisingly, considering the time of day, the conversation flowed the whole way (would the UK exit the Euro?? Today was the day of the big vote and Kinder was particularly worried). We reassured him that the Brit's wouldn't be so stupid to vote out but what did we know...)
6am and the waves were now in sight as we came in through the hills behind Las Flores.
Holy Shit! Look at those lines!
I've never seen lines like that here before. It really was something else.
10 minutes later and we were parked on the beach where cartoon like 5-6ft barrels grinded all the way down the bank. We all agreed they were some of the best - if not the best - waves we'd seen with our own eyes.
Out we went and straight into the strongest currents imaginable (big swell, outgoing tide). 25 minutes later however and we were in position and eyeing off the prize.
Today was a day for quality over quantity. The current (and to a lesser extent the crowd of 30) would see to that.
Over the 2 hours we all got some good ones and once again exited with huge smiles.
Coffee, bananas, coconut water and then the coco-meat prepared by our new friend Jose was our breakfast before we jumped back in the car for the 30 minute trek across to Punta Mango.
The Las Flores to Punta Mango drive is always a good adventure as the 4WD element really kicks in and the tropical lush scenery is something to behold.
The dirt road out is always full of kids playing about, animals crossing and friendly faces waving "hola". Today was no different and the guys in the car were loving seeing Central American tropical nature presented in such a beautiful and unspoilt way.
We arrived at 10am just as the last boats (that come across with surfers from the Las Flores area) were departing. Unfortunately the wind was picking up and this mixed with the now pulsing swell (8ft sets were regularly coming through) presented a pretty challenging looking line up (looked amazing but also looked like a lot of hard work!)
A few of us paddled out whilst the others chilled in the shade to see if the conditions really were surfable.
In short, they maybe were but Punta Mango kicked our collective asses!
A few of us got a wave whilst others got washed all the way down the beach.
After an hour of ass kicking we called it a day, Punta Mango was the winner and we were humbly back on the beach.
Time to chill and enjoy the picnic lunch we prepared ourselves.
We chilled there in the beach shack alone for about 2 hours. Watching the waves, relaxing in the hammocks, talking shit and just enjoying the moment.
We then headed back to Las Flores where we were to leave Kinder who was to stay for another week there surfing.
We said our goodbyes and the group was down to 4 now.
We headed back to El Zonte mid afternoon as the news started filtering in that Britain would be exiting the EU, thus confirming Kinder's fears that he'd expressed a few hours earlier.
A pit stop along the way and the boys were ready for their first taste of El Salvador's national dish, the Papusa!
Papusas are simple yet super tasty! Basically a cheese and bean toasted sandwich using corn tortillas instead of bread! Delicious and ridiculously cheap (3 for $1!).
Tomorrow was to be the last of our 4 day/3 night trip so we enjoyed ourselves with a nice meal and a few beers at the hotel.
Friday, the final morning had come.
Once again it was maxed out at El Zonte so we went back to the "semi-secret spot" which again was 6ft, perfect and had nobody out.
In a carbon copy of the Wednesday morning session, we scored big time! Perfect right handers, sheet glass conditions, sunny sky and all to ourselves.
What a way to end the trip...
Surfed out after 4 days, we were ready to hit the road back to Antigua.
We said goodbye to Charlie who was staying in El Zonte for another month and the 2 Aussie boys and I headed back for the 5 hour drive to Antigua.
Arriving in Antigua that night we saw the WSL event was now taking place at Puerto Escondido.
Whilst we'd been graced with 6-8ft perfection, Puerto was triple (or more) that size on the same swell. No thanks!
The Aussie boys chilled in Antigua for one last night before heading off for further non-surf adventures in Guatemala and for me, back to the surf shop in Antigua with new great memories and new reference points for just how good El Salvador can get at this time of the year.
- Mike, 25 June, 2016