El Tunco


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To come and go from El Tunco you need to wait on the side of the highway at the entrance of town. There are so many people coming and going from this area that it’s unlikely you will be standing alone. Buses essentially stop running near sunset. If you plan on taking a bus later in the day, always ask a local when the last bus passes. There is a good chance you’ll get an uncertain answer and told that the schedule is loco.

 

To San Salvador

Option 1:  Take an ordinary bus. Wait on the highway and grab a bus going to La Libertad. In La Libertad (80 or 192 or anything heading to La libertad).  Switch to the 102 (regular) bus. This bus arrives at the Terminal de Occidente. Total cost ~$1.25

Option 2:  Take a nice A/C microbus (102A). These buses run between Sunzal and San Salvador and passes El Tunco and La Libertad on the way. In El Tunco, wait on the highway and every 20-30 minutes from 6am until ~7pm the 102A will pass.  The cost is $1.50 and takes about 1hr. In San Salvador they leave from the Punto de microbuses ruta 102 and pass the Terminal de Occidente and the Estación Ceiba de Guadalupe**  in the San Benito area.  The trip takes about 45 minutes.

 

**The Estación Ceiba de Guadalupe is a great spot to know if you don’t want to head all the way into the Terminal de Occidente to change buses. Basically most of the buses departing from the Terminal de Occidente pass this spot.  It is also located very close to the Tica Bus station in San Benito.

 

From San Salvador

Same as above but in reverse! If you are staying in the San Benito area (ie Tica Bus area) then your best option is to grab a taxi to the Cieba de Guadeloupe and get the 102A. Take it all the way to Tunco. Easy!

 

To/from La Libertad

For going between El Tunco and La Libertad you can take bus 80. This bus goes back and forth between Sunzal and La Libertad about every 15 to 20 minutes from 4:30am to about 5:30pm. The cost is $0.25. You can also take the 192, 192A, 192B if it passes. These buses go between La Libertad and La Perla, Chiltiupan and Teotepeque, respectively. All of these buses will pass El Tunco enroute. Almost every bus that passes gets you to/from La Libertad but ask the driver just to be sure before you get on.

 

To/from Sonsonate

There are two buses per day (287) that go from La Libertad all the way to Sonsonate: 6am and 1:30pm. This bus takes about 20min to get to El Tunco from La Libertad so you can factor in that time, however the bus sometimes leaves early, so it is best to be waiting a bit early. Going the other way, bus 287 leaves Sonsonate for La Libertad at 5:50am and 3:30pm.

Check the Sonsonate page for instructions on how to get to Juayúa, Ataco, Santa Ana or Ahuachapán. If you are continuing on to these places.

 

To/from Mizata

You can catch the 192 which heads to La Perla and then arrange a taxi the rest of the way (or wait for a another bus). Your best bet to get to here is to take the 287 which runs twice a day to Sonsonate (as described above) as it will go right past Mizata.

 

From the Airport

Trip time about 2hrs and surprisingly easy! Have a look at the Airport page to see where you start and how to get to the bus stop. At the airport bus stop you want to get on the 183 microbus going to San Luis Talpa, it will say this on the windshield.  There are a few different 183 buses with each taking a slightly different route to the city so double check with the driver or money guy to be sure you’re on the right one. The easiest thing to say is ‘Me voy a la libertad’ and if he nods and lets you on then chances are you’re on the right one. This trip takes about 10 minutes and will drop you at the bus stop in San Luis Talpa and there will almost certainly be other people waiting for the bus. The 166 bus to La Libertad will pass by here. This bus takes about 1hr and costs $0.60. In La Libertad the buses leaving for El Tunco, Sunzal, El Zonte etc will depart from just around the corner from where you get off the 166. Have a look at the La Libertad page for the rest of the details for getting to the beach! Easy!

 

To the airport

Same as above but in reverse! Or, there is an alternate way to do this trip – via Comalapa. We have not tried but we are told it goes like this: get yourself to La Libertad. Take the 187 or 166 that is heading to Comalapa. **Let the money guy or the driver know you are going to the airport and want to get off and switch to the airport bus. ‘Me voy al aeropuerto‘. From there you will need to get to the spot to stand on the highway headed to the airport. Ask a local to point you in the right direction. From there take the 138 microbus that is going to the Airport. Have a look at the El Salvador International Airport for photos and more info.

 

To El Cuco

Going from El Cuco to El Tunco is a long journey and requires a few bus changes. The awesome duo at Don’t Forget to Move wrote a good blog post about the fastest way to do this route. It was confirmed accurate in 2105. We will be testing this route soon to see how it goes.

 

You can also go back to San Salvador (arriving at the Terminal de Occidente and switching to Terminal de Oriente), then to San Miguel and then down to El Cuco from there.

 

We also have another route will will test and add more here soon. We will do La Libertad to Zacatecolouca to Usulután to El Dilirio to El Cuco. Yikes!

 

Help your fellow traveller

If you have taken any of the buses on this page, please drop us a comment below about how the trip went, what time you left, how long it took and what it cost. And, definitely let us know if we have anything wrong.

Lets help each other in our travels!

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FINE PRINT

In general the majority of buses operate between just before sunrise until sunset. Times are listed when we have them, but remember, you are in El Salvador and even the locals say the schedules are 'loco' sometimes. Always plan enough time in your day for travel and plan to be at your destination before the sun sets. Avoid arriving when it's getting dark. Short distance buses will cost between $0.25 and $1.50 and longer distance buses $1.50-$3.00. Some routes offer more than one class of travel: regular class and especial which often has a/c and makes fewer stops but cost a little more. Also, know that you and only you are responsible for your own health and safety in your travels and the choices you make. Travel safe and travel smart - and have fun!

CONNECTING STATIONS

La Libertad San Salvador – Occidental El Zonte Sonsonate

La Perla, Teotepeque, Chiltiupan

PHOTOS TO SHOW YOU THE WAY

Bus 80 which goes back and forth from Playa Sunzal and La Libertad

Photo taken: March 30, 2016

Main entrance/exit to El Tunco as seen from the highway

Photo taken: March 30, 2016

Heading towards exit/entrance from El Tunco

Photo taken: March 30, 2016

Bus 192 dropping people off across the street from the entrance. Coming from La Libertad

Photo taken: March 30, 2016

Where you can purchase Tica Bus tickets

Photo taken: March 30, 2016

The street heading to the beach

Photo taken: March 30, 2016

Playa El Tunco

Photo taken: March 30, 2016

Playa El Tunco

Photo taken: March 30, 2016

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6 travel tips for El Tunco - share your tips below!

  1. Frank the Bärliner

    Europa Guest House
    Colonia Hirleman San Miguel, El Salvador polígono 20 calle Suiza número 1, San Miguel, 01101, El-Salvador –

    A new hostel has opened in San Miguel. Is a nice guy and very helpful.
    A dorm bed is 12 US $ with breakfast.

    The whole ride from El Tunco up to San Miguel, without passing San Salvador takes 5- 6 hours.
    So ist good to take a rest,before moving on to Honduras or even Nicaragua.
    Enjoy your traveling Frank the Bärliner

    • centrocoasting

      Thanks for the tip on the new hostel, maybe they would like to advertise with us!

  2. María A. Revelo-Imery

    This is wonderful!! Been intending to do this a while ago, so I might as well give you information to create other routes in San Salvador! Gracias!

    • centrocoasting

      Thanks, Maria! Please let us know what we are missing and we will add it in!

  3. Alyssa Winkler

    Hey do you know anything about the bus schedule (bus numbets/times) between El Tunco and Acajutla? I’m trying to bus all the way to Xela (Guatemala) but I want to take the lower highway near the coast to avoid going through the big cities. But I can’t seem to be able to find much information on the buses.

    • centrocoasting

      Hi Alyssa! I have not done this specific route but I can offer this advice after talking to a local here who knows the buses very well. He says it is best to catch the bus heading to Sonsonate (bus #287). There are two that pass Tunco every day (~6am and ~1:45pm). You can then do two things. You can get off at the intersection where the bus turns right heading to Sonsonate (see map) cross to the other side of the road and wait for the bus heading towards the border, BUT I recommend taking the bus all the way to Sonsonate and then ask for the bus heading to La Hachadura (there will be several leaving every day). The distance between these two points is only about 10 minutes and it’s safer to just go to the Sonsonate station rather than standing on the side of the road. Keep me posted on how it goes for you. And, if you would like to take some photos and write up a little bit about your trip then I would LOVE to feature it/you in the ‘Routes’ section of this website!

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