Waiting for Surf - El Paredon - Guatemala

Surfing Guatemala and El Salvador

El Paredon

It took nearly a week to get our act together after my Brother Kevin arrived, but we had finally settled on heading to the Guatemalan pacific coast in search of sun and surf. Best we could tell, El Paredon was one of the few places in Guatemala set up for surfing unless you had your own board.

Our journey there was no less exciting than the ones that had taken us to Flores or onwards to Antigua, though certainly less death defying. The morning of our journey started out with a wander around the rear of the market in Antigua where the “bus terminal” is situated. The terminal was little more than a dirt parking lot where the chrome clad chicken busses are parked. While the signs above the driver do give some indication as to the direction the bus is headed, we found it most effective to just ask the drivers or helpers.

Two very cramped busses later we found ourselves in Sipicate, just a stone’s throw from El Paredon, our next destination. As we disembarked the bus and shuffled over to the tuk-tuks, there was only one thought going through Kevin’s mind, “I want to drive one of those!”.

Kevin Trying to Drive a Tuk-Tuk
Kevin Driving a Tuk-Tuk

The tuk-tuk ride was about a half hour long which gave me ample time to figure out how best to ask the driver if he’d let Kevin take the handle bars.

“Podria él manaja tuk-tuk por favor?” I asked in my broken Spanish.  Translation:  “Could he please drive?”

Without hesitation the young and small (I feel I should emphasize small) Guatemalan man stopped in the middle of the road and shuffled over to make room. My brother is about 6 feet tall and roughly 200 lbs, a small Guatemalan man he is not. Kevin got out of the rear where we and our bags were crammed and proceeded to wedge himself into the driver’s seat and drive us the rest of the way to the short river crossing.

Though we made an attempt at it, the driver wouldn’t be convinced as we jokingly suggested he pay us for the ride since Kevin did the bulk of the driving.

Our time in El Paredon was relatively short. We were told we had got there just as the weather had changed and the surf was no longer worth riding. The locals were only out in the waves the first day we were there after which we didn’t see them do much besides watch the waves on subsequent days and roll a strange green tobacco.

We stayed at El Paredon Surf Camp, a slightly dilapidated but still enjoyable spot right beside the beach with good food and hammocks in the shade. Had either of us realized however that the Surf Camp and the Surf House were very different things, we would have more likely found ourselves at the house with its much more updated accommodations, even better food, and only slightly higher prices.

It was our third or fourth morning in El Paredon when we realized the surf was unlikely to improve.  “Maybe the surf will get better?” Kevin remarked as we started breakfast that morning.

“Or since you still have a week we could do something else? I just talked to one of the other guys and he says the surf should be better in El Salvador.” I replied

Near completion of our meals Kevin suddenly turned to me: “Ok, lets go.” And just like that we were about to hit our fourth country in two weeks. I hadn’t anticipated us going to El Salvador.  Hell, I hadn’t even thought I would go there later as I had originally heard it was very unsafe.

As chance would have it, we managed to catch a ride with a native Guatemalan and her Californian boyfriend away from the coast and to where we’d find a chicken bus to take us back to Antigua.

We crashed in Antigua for the night though neither of us slept much and I barely got on the bus the next day due to having a bad smoothie at the Antigua market. Despite my condition we headed to El Salvador.

El Salvador

The drive to El Zonte, El Salvador was long but pleasantly uneventful save for a truck full of bananas we saw rolled over in the ditch. Kevin’s bag fell off the roof rack and slammed into the window scarring the crap out of everyone as it hung by a single ¼” elastic. Our driver was surprisingly calm compared to the standards we had encountered thus far on our trip.  Yes, I classify this as an uneventful trip, my stomach was thankful!

I think the most startling thing we encountered was that El Salvador doesn’t stamp you passport when you enter or leave. Only Guatemala stamped us as we left.

El Zonte

Cow Waiting for Surf - El Zonte - El Salvador
Mooo, quiet indeed

This quiet little surf spot seemed to be exactly what we were searching for. Esencia Nativa Hostel & Restaurant was well setup with a terrace overlooking the ocean, hammocks, a pool, and lots of surfboards and boogieboards to rent.

We spent nearly a week there and though the surf was less than spectacular in comparison to other places Kevin had been, it was definitely relaxing.We were also pleasantly surprised how little out bill came to at the end of the week, though we suspect they may have missed a few things.

The only downfall to this stretch of coastline is the black sand beaches. While the sand is certainly unique, its ability to burn your feet intensely surpasses white sand so much that you’ll rarely even find locals without sandals on a sunny day.

Save for an hour long traffic jam on our return trip to Guatemala, I’m happy to say our drive back to Antigua was rather uneventful.


Top Travel Tips

[list type=”check”]

  • When your bag get thrown on top of a bus, try to make sure they tie it down effectively and cover it if there is a chance of rain.
  • If surfing in El Paredon, head to the Surf House
  • La libertad in El Salvador has one of the longest surfing waves in the world that carries you all the way from the point into the harbour. Be warned however that Punta Roca, is for experienced riders only, as the name suggest, the shore is nothing but rocks.
  • Want to drive a Tuk-Tuk (also called a moto taxi)? Can’t hurt to ask, though I’d recommend you stick to rural areas.


Kevin Next to the Tuk-Tuk Driver
Kevin Next to the Tuk-Tuk Driver, and He’s Even Hunched Over
Waiting for Surf - El Paredon - Guatemala
Waiting for Surf – El Paredon – Guatemala
Ocean View - El Zonte - El Salvador
Ocean View – El Zonte – El Salvador

This is part 3 of a 4 part series on 3 weeks I spent traveling with my brother. See part 1 here, part 2 here, and part 4 here



3 thoughts on “Surfing Guatemala and El Salvador

  1. Hey Chris
    It is always refreshing reading your articles, especially when you’re sitting at your desk and should work on your bachelor thesis while outside is the perfect summer weather… I wondered if you have some longterm plans or if it is your goal to have not such plans at all?
    Well, I’m definitely longing for my next travels ; )
    Take care


    1. Andrea!!

      Miss you lots and supper happy you’re enjoying them!

      Right now I’m just focused on Central and South America, but at the rate I’m going it’ll take me like 2.5 years to finish, so we’ll see how things go. I don’t plan much more than about a week in advance at the most and most of the time not more than a day. Only reason I have a month planned right now is I have to meet my mother in Nicaragua on the 15th of August.

      I hope your next travels brings you near me, but I’ll still make it to Europe…in time.




  2. Hey Chris

    There’s great freedom in not planning that much and it comes usually when you just have to look for yourself and no one else. But it is great to share your experience with someone, too.
    Right now I would say it is much more possible for us to meet some day in Europe than somewhere further away. Until then you can be sure to have a place to crash in Switzerland ; ) If you really gonna make it over the atlantic.

    And who knows, maybe we just gonna run into each other one day as we did three times in NZ ; )

    Have fun


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