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  • Writer's pictureKristin

La Libertad, El Salvador & Tamanique Waterfall | Family Friendly Options

After spending time in Santa Ana and exploring Rutas de las Flores region, we headed toward the coast to check out the beaches of El Salvador. The western coast of the country is known for its big waves and is a great destination for surfers! It also isn’t very far from the capital city of San Salvador. We stayed in a little community about 15 minutes west of San Salvador where to get to the beach it only took about 20-25 minutes. It is so easy to get from spot to spot in El Salvador it felt like. While we didn’t end up surfing, we spent some time at a couple of the family friendly beaches, as well as checked out Tamanique Waterfall located nearby.

Family Friendly Beaches of El Salvador

Some of the beaches like El Tunco, El Zapote and El Sunzal are a few of the main surf destinations; however, as the Pacific swells hit the El Salvadorian coast between March and October, the waves can get quite large – up to 10 ft. high. While awesome for advanced surfers, for families with children, those large waves and rocky shorelines aren't ideal. However, we still found some places on the coast that the kids could play and really enjoyed our time there. If you are a beginner surfer it is recommended to come between November to February when the swell isn't as big or search out other beaches.

Even though we were there at the beginning of March, we were still able to find some beaches we could enjoy as a family in the La Libertad beach region. Both of the beaches we discovered tended to feel more local as we only encountered other El Salvadorians at them and both were completely sandy beaches! You do have to be aware of the undercurrent & riptides, but they were pretty shallow for a fair way out so the kids could stand at all times and we always went out in the water with them.

San Diego Beach

We originally had the plan of visiting Los Flores beach, as we had heard great things about this one, but we discovered there are actually two Los Flores beaches in El Salvador. However, the one we were intending to visit was further south & we were at the northern one. However, when we arrived, a local told us that it wasn’t safe for us to go there – likely due to the conditions. He suggested we check out San Diego Beach just a couple kilometers away. This stretch of beach is quite long. To access the beaches, you have to visit one of the hotel properties along the beach. We found an open lot that had some picnic tables and large parking & paid $2 USD for parking and $2 USD per adult to have all day access to the beach (children were free).

Majahual Beach

This beach is a black sand beach just south of El Tunco; however, different from El Tunco in that it has a large sandy beach clear from rocks. There are restaurants lining this beach and offer free parking. We parked – pretty much inside the restaurant hut – purchased some food and then enjoyed hanging out at the beach.

Boogie boarders at sunset at Playa de Majahual in El Salvador.
Sunset at Majahual Beach off the Pacific Coast in La Libertad in El Salvador.

There is also the option to walk down the beach at Majahual and get a completely different feel & views.

There are dozens of other beaches to explore in El Salvador as well, but we appreciated coming across these as family-accessible beaches. Just always make sure that you are paying attention to the conditions of the beach as they can change quickly & if you can visit around low tide that will also minimize the any conditions.

Cascada de Tamanique

Just 30-45 minutes from the coastline near El Tunco is the town of Tamanique. This town is a bit of a climb up into the hills, which offers a bit of a reprieve from the heat and humidity of the coastline. From the town you can access Tamanique Waterfall, which is composed of 4 different waterfalls, several that you can swim in!

You can either hike there yourselves or hire a guide in the town. (There is also a large parking lot that you can park in the town towards the beginning of the hike.) For only $10 USD ($5 USD per adult) we decided to just get a guide. Once we reached the falls there was an entrance fee of $2.50 per adult & children 8+ years old. Our guide was only 15 years old, so it was his way to earn some money. However, if you choose to do the hike on your own, you can ask anyone in town and they will point you in the right direction to the trail. The trail is fairly well marked with red arrows to guide you down. It took us about 30-45 minutes to descend down to the canyon where the waterfalls are found.

The Tamanique Waterfall hike in Tamanique, El Salvador.
The beginning of our hike down to the canyon to see the various waterfalls of Tamanique.

We stopped to check out one of the first falls, which was technically waterfall #3, I believe. To access this one you had to descend down some stairs and then walk along the edge of the canyon. However, it wasn’t bad and the kids easily mastered it. You could also swim in this one.

The second waterfall he took us was above the first waterfall we visited. Here there was a pool where there were several spots that you could jump in from the sides and even slide down the waterfall. Raul joined right in the fun as well and was literally Spiderman as he was jumping from spots about 20 ft. high, walking up the waterfall and scaling the side of the canyon wall at points – I guess one of the benefits of having a much younger guide! He tried convincing Alex and I to do a few as well. We did a couple but decided to pass on a couple others due to old age….ha ha! However, he was great with the kids as well – helping them catch a fish and playing with them!

The final stop was below the others and required a bit of backtracking. I don’t think he had planned to take us to this one, but we told him that we wanted to check it out and he came with us. However, this view was probably one of the most impressive, as we were really far down the canyon and there was a really tall waterfall, as well as a couple of smaller ones.

Family in front of one of the cascadas at Tamanique Waterfall. Tamanique, El Salvador.
Enjoying the views of one of the waterfalls of Tamanique Waterfall.

The hardest part was just hiking back, but luckily the ticket booth sold some drinks at decent prices so the kids got some Gatorade to power up for the hike back to the top. The kids did great & it was probably closer to a 45-50 minute hike back because we had to hike uphill.

The Tamanique Waterfall was one of favorite activities in El Salvador and one we would highly recommend taking a break from the beach for the day to go check out!

Spending our last few days in El Salvador at the beach and hiking to Tamanique Waterfall was the perfect way to end our stay in this fabulous country. Although we were only in El Salvador for 12 days, we felt like we experienced quite a lot of the country. The great roads and the country being relatively small also helped with the ease of getting around and seeing lots. While it is doable to see Santa Ana, Rutas de las Flores and the coastline in that time period, we honestly left wishing we would have had more time. But if you only have a 2-week vacation and want to make the most of it – then definitely put El Salvador on the list!

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