Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2-day budget itinerary for La Tortuga Verde, El Cuco, El Salvador.
The beaches of El Salvador are not to be missed. Whether you are an avid surfer, frugal traveler or in search of luxury resorts, the coast of El Salvador has something for you.
One of the most talked about beach towns in El Salvador is El Cuco. Amazingly enough, there doesn’t seem to be much written online about El Cuco and that suits locals and travelers just fine. The location remains somewhat secret and yet word travels by mouth, bringing visitors from far and wide to enjoy the splendor of El Cuco.
While researching our trip to El Cuco, I heard glowing recommendations about La Tortuga Verde, a beach-front resort, restaurant, and conservation center. What intrigued me most was La Tortuga Verde’s passion about the environment and their many conservation programs.
The beauty of staying at La Tortuga Verde is that there are so many activities available, you could stay for weeks on end without getting bored. The following are my suggestions for a two-day itinerary while visiting El Cuco, including the budget breakdown.
While on vacation at a secluded beach there is no need to wake up early for breakfast. Instead, why not enjoy a lie-in, roll out of bed and then slowly amble outside. The full-service restaurant is open from 7 am to 7:30 pm and serves a good-sized traditional El Salvadorian breakfast with juice and coffee. For those who are early risers, coffee service is available from around dawn.
After eating, take a stroll around the resort and beach. You may see a few mangoes laying around and that’s because there are over forty mango trees on the property. Guests are encouraged to pick what fruit they want for free. In fact, you can even stay in a two-story studio built around a coconut tree and pick coconuts from in your room.
This was the spot that I decided to take the first surf lesson of my Central American trip. With calmer waves, no sharp rocks to worry about and a near-empty beach, Playa El Esteron was the perfect place to learn. Also, the prices for surf lessons and board rentals at La Tortuga Verde were very economic.
My lesson was with Nils, a certified surfing instructor who was volunteering at La Tortuga Verde for a few weeks. I had barely any surfing experience, so Nils went through the basics starting with a brief and informative introduction on land. Then step by step, he instructed me on how to catch a wave, push up with my arms, and eventually stand. I am happy to say that I was able to stand up by the end of the lesson.
More experienced surfers can either bring their own boards or rent from La Tortuga Verde. Shuttles are also available to Las Flores and El Tunco, other popular surfing spots nearby.
The Yoga Temple has beach-front views and is available for use by guests. While staying there, one of the volunteers was hosting free yoga classes in the afternoons. I wandered over when I saw that they had hula hoops and ended up giving my own impromptu hula hooping lesson.
In addition to hoops, La Tortuga Verde can provide a slack line and fire spinning toys. There are also daily fitness classes including power walking, calisthenics, and cardio training to help keep you fit while on holidays.
Finish the day off with a cool drink at the Coco Bar. You can order your drinks to have at the bar, at a table or take it over to one of the nearby hammocks facing out onto the beach. Happy hour is from 4:30 to 6:30 pm with $1 local beers. I also enjoyed their pizzas which were made at the bar with fresh ingredients.
Coffee and baked goods
For a different start to the day, head to the Cosmic Cucina, a vegetarian cafe serving baked goods, juices and healthy meals. The local El Salvadorian Organic Coffee they sell is really delicious. Next to the cafe is a music room with instruments, board games, more hammocks and couches to hang out on.
Go for a swim
During the hottest part of the day, it might be a good idea to take a dip. The beach in front of the resort, Playa El Esteron, is long with soft sand and calm waves. As the resort, restaurant and conservation facilities span three properties, it feels as if you have the whole beach to yourself.
If you don’t feel like getting your feet sandy, then you can swim in one of the two pools at La Tortuga Verde.
Relax in a hammock
The activity I saw most guests enjoying during our stay was relaxing in hammocks. Whether you are reading a book or just looking out into the waves, this is a great place to spend hours hanging out in a hammock.
Watch the sunset
The sunsets we saw while traveling through El Salvador were jaw-dropping, and here they were no exception. Grab a beer from the bar, settle yourself in a hammock or beach chair and just enjoy the show. La Tortuga Verde also runs sunset boat cruises for only a few dollars. Check with the reception desk for details.
La Tortuga Verde
Located on Playa El Esteron, La Tortuga is a short distance away from the town of El Cuco. Its location is far enough away to give the feeling of complete seclusion, however still relatively easy to access from San Miguel.
La Tortuga Verde began as a beach front restaurant until visitors kept asking the owner, Tom, for a place to stay the night so they could extend their visit. The resort was constructed with the intention to have minimal impact on the environment.
The rooms are “beach bungalow” style with clean, natural tones and open air-flow. Air conditioning is available as an optional extra, however with fans in my room and the natural sea breeze I didn’t feel that I needed it. Daily housekeeping is provided.
La Tortuga Verde was one of the most unique resorts that I have ever visited. There was such an abundance of activities, I was only able to sample a few in the short time that I was there. Throughout the resort, there are many thoughtful touches and hand-painted signs letting you know of the facilities and amenities available. There is also a detailed guest book at the front desk that provides information on activities. If in doubt, have a chat with one of the many friendly staff.
For information on how to get to La Tortuga Verde, read Getting here.
Location: La Tortuga Verde, Calle Pacifica, El Salvador
Budget breakdown: El Cuco
All costs are quoted for two people and in the local currency (El Salvador uses US Dollars). See below for the average daily spend per person including currency conversion to AUD.
Accommodation: La Tortuga Verde offers rooms, studio apartments, and houses. The resort has three restaurants, including the bar. For the full list of accommodations and current prices, please refer to Accommodations.
Food: I chose to eat all my meals at La Tortuga Verde, however, there are other options within walking distance including pupusas and a bakery (ask the reception desk for directions). Filtered water is available for free to all guests at La Tortuga Verde.
Day 1 – Two coffees ($1.50), Pancake breakfast ($3.25), Pineapple Smoothie ($2), Grilled cheese ($2), Chorizo Pizza ($8), Two happy hour beers ($2).
Day 2 – Two typical El Salvadorean breakfasts with juice and coffee ($8), Chorizo Pizza ($8), Two ice creams ($3), Two happy hour beers ($2).
Activities: One-hour surfing lesson, including board rental for two people ($20).
Average daily spend: $14.90 USD each ($20.22 AUD, the exchange rate as of 5 June 2016) excluding accommodation costs, transport into and out of El Cuco.
I was a complimentary guest of La Tortuga Verde, however, my opinion is my own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to my readers.
The photo used for the pin and feature image in this article is the property of La Tortuga Verde.
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