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.
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. Price $1.50.
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.
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!
Re: comment from April 19, 2019 about the 166 bus. As of today it’s running again. I didn’t take it but saw at the bus station in La Libertad, and it clearly stated it went to San Salvador via Comalapa.