Sunday, August 24, 2014

El Salvador-El Tunco/Sunzal

While I have been fortunate enough to travel a good deal in the past year (I just got back from another trip to China for work) husband-face and I had not had a vacation alone together since our honeymoon which was 3 and a half years ago.  We decided to book a trip to El Salvador for a warm surf getaway in May.  We had a variety of friends that had been down there and it came highly recommended.  After some research and conversations we decided to stay 4 days in El Tunco so husband-face could surf Sunzal and the many other breaks in the area.

I'm a huge fan of Trip Advisor and do a lot of my travel research on there.  After looking at every hotel in the El Tunco area we landed on Kayu Resort.  Kayu is just outside El Tunco and right across the road from the Sunzal point break.  It is a small hotel with 4 large rooms and 2 smaller ones.  We ended up in the Punta Mango suite on the top floor.  The location couldn't be beat, our top floor room had great views of the waves.  It has a pool deck and an outdoor restaurant area that serves food all day.  I wouldn't call the food amazing but to be honest I didn't have any amazing food while I was in El Salvador.  It was a short walk along the beach into the small town of El Tunco where there were plenty of restaurants and bars and a couple little shops. We had a friend down there at the same time that stayed at Casa de Mar, a little more expensive and probably the nicest hotel in the area.  It's right on the beach and when you come in from a surf they have your towel ready for you and either a water or a beer, now that's service.

Of all of the surf trips we have been on (not that we can boast too many) husband-face liked El Salvador the best.  The long point breaks were his little version of heaven that left his legs burning. One of these days I'll learn...

The view from the deck of the Punta Mango suite at Kayu

Kayu, our room was the top left

Sunzal point break, heaven for husband-face

Surf check
Exploring the coast

Looking east as we drove west up the coast

The main road of El Tunco with bars and restaurants

A couple of tips about El Tunco:
1. Don't rent a car.  Driving in El Salvador is tough without GPS as very few of the roads are marked. We got lost...a lot.  In hindsight just hiring a driver to take us places would have been easier.  But getting lost is part of the adventure right?

2. El Tunco is safe!  Don't let the armed security fool you, it's a part of the culture in El Salvador and employs a lot of people.  We stayed outside of town and felt perfectly safe walking around at night. We wouldn't have done that in the city of San Salvador but the beach communities are perfectly safe

3. If you have a hard time with the local (headache inducing) beers try the bar at Hotel Mopelia.  It's a hostel style hotel owned by a Belgian guy named Jil (He says "like the woman" when he tells you his name and you don't understand) who does his best to get good beer imported. He's gained quite a following and people bring him beers from all over which he displays in the bar. He had quite a few San Diego brews on display there.

4. If you are a vegetarian like myself try the papusas (local dish) with queso y frijoles.  I was a big fan.

5. Also for vegetarians Take a Wok in town had a veggie curry fried rice which satisfied by vegetable craving one night.

6. There's a couple swanky restaurants just east of Kayu, one called Beto's and once at a little hotel called Sunzal Hills. We happened to stop at Sunzal Hills on Mother's Day and it was hopping.  The views were beautiful with waves crashing in the rock pools below the restaurant and pool deck.

7. We did a trip up to Boqueron National Park to check out the crater.  It was beautiful and I'm glad we did it but there was not really any hike to speak of.  If you want to hike down into the crater you have to arrange a local guide in advance.  I wish we had been able to do the Santa Ana volcano hike but the rain didn't permit that during our time there.  When we go back that is definitely on the list.

8. The beach in El Tunco is not really a "lay out white sand" sort of beach.  It's a little dirty and there's usually a lot of people walking up and down it, soccer games happen a lot and it gets rocky right when you hit town

9. There's a waterfall hike up in one of the towns inland from El Tunco called Tamanique.  I WISH we had done it but we ran out of time.  We will do it when we go back!

The beer wall at Mopelia

A gloomy day walk down the beach from Kayu to El Tunco

Beach fĂștbol 

Waves crashing into the rock pools at Sunzal Hills

Boqueron with Boqueroncito inside

Volcano kitty!

My Mom's favorite photo

There has already been much talk of returning to El Salvador so I'm sure we will head back within the next few years.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Amalfi Coast Boat Trip - Scrapped

I was SO good there for awhile, keeping up with my posts.  And then summer in California happened and I have been distracted by one of the best summers the San Diego coast has seen in years.  Very little gloom, perfect temperatures, long days at the beach turning into long evenings of wine and laughter.  Pretty much bliss in my book.  Oh yeah, and I work...all the damn time.

I made these pages months ago and this day is still one of the best days of my life, our Amalfi Coast boat trip. If you're ever there, please seek out Salvatore...and give him a big hug from me.

A wise man, that Salvatore

The kissing elephants

One of the most enjoyable lunches I've ever had

Hill being a babe