La Unión

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If you are coming or going between Nicaragua and El Salvador then you will pass through La Unión. This town is the gateway to/from Nicaragua (Potosí) if you make the border crossing by boat. Truthfully, we didn’t really enjoy our brief time in La Union. It’s definitely not a place travellers tend to hang out in. Overall it feels a little rough and there definitely wasn’t the same warmth felt from other spots in El Salvador. Sorry, La Unión.

Check the comments below for some really helpful and recent travel tips from others!


La Unión to El Cuco (via Intipucá)

There are two different spots to grab the bus in La Unión and they are both marked on the map above. The one marked Estacion Ferroviaria is where you need to go if you are headed to El Cuco. You need the 339. The bus leaves here 4 times per day and is labeled Intipupá. Sorry, we forgot to confirm the times with the driver when we got off but we will add the schedule soon.  For now we can say that there is one bus around 12:30 (assume 12pm to be safe) and the last one each day is 2:30pm (but assume 2pm just to be safe). The locals tell us there is no service on Sundays, but we will follow up with that too.

The last stop for the 339 bus is Intipucá and from there you can carry on to El Cuco. To get to La Tortuga Verde you are best to just grab a 5$ tuk tuk ride down the hill (10min). The journey from here to El Cuco is about another hour and you have to take two buses. To do this you need to be sure you are getting the right bus, you need the one heading to San Miguel but passing Zapatagua. This is basically just a junction in the highway (see photo below) where you can hop off and switch directions to the beach. The journey from Intipucá to Zapatagua is less than 10 minutes. From Zapatagua its about another 40min depending on how long the bus stops in Chilaragua. Heads up: it seems like nobody in La Unión knows their bus schedules but the tuk tuk guys tend to be pretty knowledgable.

Here is where the junction is at Zapatagua:

And here is what Zapatagua looks like in real life:

If you are headed from El Cuco to La Unión then your bus times are 8am, 10:30am, 1pm and 3:30pm. Check the El Cuco page for more information.


La Union to San Miguel or San Salvador

The station marked Ciudad La Unión is where you need to go to grab the bus to San Miguel (324) or Santa Rosa (342). There should also be a bus (301) to the Terminal de Oriente in San Salvador.


To Nicaragua

There are a few different options to choose from to take you across the Golfo de Fonseca from Potosí to La Unión . La Tortuga Verde is a popular hostel located near El Cuco and they offer this trip – you can learn more about it here. Another tour operator called Ruta del Golfo offers this trip and you can read more about it here. The third option is to just show up and see what happens. You can sometimes hitch a ride for a fee – use your discretion here obviously. We suspect it is much less easy to hitch a ride from La Unión to Potosí than it is the other way around.


Share your experience

Our information is a little bit sketchy for this spot but we can tell you what we do know. We will be back to fill in the gaps soon. But please, if you have been through La Unión by bus, then leave a comment below about your experience and bus times to help your fellow travellers.


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We do note 100% guarantee accurate information. 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!






Bus terminal to San Miguel, Santa Rosa, San Salvador
Photo taken: 2017

The street outside the bus terminal to San Miguel, Santa Rosa, San Salvador
Photo taken: 2017

Ordinary service bus to San Miguel (324)

Photo taken: March 2017

Street next to Parque Central
Photo taken: March 2017

Parque Central
Photo taken: March 2017

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5 travel tips for La Unión - share your tips below!

  1. Amandine

    San Salvador-> La Union

    The bus leaves now the new bus station “nuevo amanecer” and not terminal de oriente

  2. Tsveti

    Hello fellow travelers! I took the boat from la Union to Potosí. There were no schedule boats at the time I was there so I went for a night at San Francisco hotel. The owner there is super sweet (no English tho so basic Spanish helps) he found us a boat for the next day which costed 200US for 5 of us. For the first hour and 1/2 the ride was great, calm water, nice view but the last 30 min was really rough. Water everywhere and big waves. Still worth it! Hope it helps

    • centrocoasting

      Thank you, Tsveti! Good info for your fellow travellers!

    • Will

      Yes, I did this trip yesterday almost exactly the same way. $200 for the five of us. Stayed in SF Hotel too, but wouldn’t recommend it if you actually want to sleep. There are a few others around though, all seemingly located further away from the street noise.

      Concerning the actual boat ride, I should point out that I was extremely lucky as I was travelling alone initially and just bumped into two Ecuadorian couples who were also looking for a boat. They were really nice to let me share with them (even though it lowered the price for them too) because there’s no way I would have been able to afford a boat by myself. Only saw one other gringo in La Union otherwise.

      Thus, I’d only suggest doing this trip if you have at least three people in your group, or can afford $200 for a ride, or get very lucky, or have lots of time. I’m glad I did it though, much more interesting than the bus through Honduras, even if we did have to spend nearly three hours at the Nicaraguan border waiting for our passports to get stamped!

      • centrocoasting

        Thanks, Will! Super helpful information.

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