The Ungraceful Guide | Budget Travel Guides

El Salvador: El Cuco, La Tortuga Verde To The Rescue

El Cuco was by far the weirdest town I’ve ever been in. When we arrived into the town we were waved into a “hostel” by a local man, where he proceeded to ask us for $25 a night for what can only be described as a crack den and telling us there was only him and 1 other hostel in town. He was, as it turns out, correct and the other place wasn’t much better.

Disheartened and slightly frightened myself and Katie decided we would head for a place we had heard about Called “la Tortuga Verde”. It’s a 45 min walk or a $5, 10 min cab ride from town. Originally we were looking at avoiding this place because, although it’s got amazing reviews online, it’s described like a holiday resort and we normally try to avoid those like the plague, but we took the gamble and boy are we glad we did.

In short, if you do want to go to El Cuco (and I highly advise you do so) head straight for La Tortuga.

Table of Contents

How To Get To El Cuco:

We booked a shuttle from El Tunco to León in Nicaragua with Gekko Explorers because they gave us a great deal that included a stop in El Cuco. Now, I’ve come across some pretty negative reviews online for this company but I have to say they were great to us.

They normally run a shuttle to El Cuco for $20 and then from there to León for $30. We got both shuttles and a night’s accommodation in the Blue Hat Hostel in León for $45. Bargain.

Accommodation in El Cuco:

El Salvador: El Cuco, La Tortuga Verde To The Rescue
Hey… hers is bigger than mine!

Viva La Tortuga! I cannot recommend La Tortuga verde enough (even though there’s nowhere else to stay in El Cuco).
Rooms range in price from $18 to $70 and houses from $200 to $225, so there’s something for everybody.
The resort also has free yoga at 8am everyday, and a library with books.

You can swap, surf lessons and rentals, trivia nights, live music, games and loads of cool stuff, as well as being a turtle sanctuary, so you can watch them release baby turtles back into the ocean. I wouldn’t recommend eating in the restaurant though. It’s expensive and the food isn’t the best but never fear there are cheaper alternatives on the doorstep for the more money conscious traveller.

When you exit the main gate of the resort go right, about 3 doors down on the right you’ll find Adela’s Pupusas. Best Pupusas in El Salvador hands down. Nice and cheap too at 50 cents each. There are other things on the menu too in case you pupusa yourself out.

Walk past Adella’s and you’ll see two small shops on your right. Behind the second (blue) shop, there is a lady who makes local brekkies for $2 pp. There’s no menu, you literally ask for “un desayuno” (one breakfast) and that’s what you get, rice, beans, eggs, cheese, tortillas and coffee. It’s not a restaurant, it’s essentially her home and she cooks breakfasts to make a few quid, but it’s like having your mammy cook for you, which is always nice. It’s full of chickens, ducks, birds, dogs, cats, and roosters. You name it. And they’re all just freely running all round. Deadly.

Again, if you keep walking down this road towards the end, you’ll see another lil local food restaurant. Fantastic dinners (fish, meat with veg, tortillas and rice) for $5, sure it’d be rude not to.

Things To Do in El Cuco:

El Salvador: El Cuco, La Tortuga Verde To The Rescue
Oh I wish they all could be Californian giiiiiiiiirls!


Rent a board for $3 per hour or $10 for the whole day and ride some waves! Can’t surf? No worries, get lessons for $10 an hour.

Clean The Beach:

Get your eco warrior on and grab a bag from the bar and go collect trash on the beach. When you return with your bag of trash receive a free beer as good karma.

El Salvador: El Cuco, La Tortuga Verde To The Rescue
Heroes in a half shell… TURTLE POWER!

Free The Turtles:

The owner, Tom, buys turtle eggs from local poachers at a higher price than the restaurants (yes…they eat them), incubates and hatches them, and releases them into the sea. This is one of those cheesy hallmark moments I know, but it still makes my soul smile every time I think of it.

El Salvador: El Cuco, La Tortuga Verde To The Rescue
I watched you walk to the end of the earth.

Catch A Sunset:

I didn’t think it was possible, but the sunset here is even nicer than El Tunco. Chill out on the beach and enjoy.

Stay For The Fire:

When the sun goes down the guys usually light a bonfire on the beach, and who doesn’t love a good bonfire.

Quiz Night:

Great night with drinks, promos and prizes!

Happy Hour:

4-6 pm. Cheap beers and 2 for 1 cocktails. Oh yes!

We met some really cool people at la Tortuga and I can honestly say I’d go back to El Cuco just to go hang out there.

As always, if you have any questions or need any advice feel free to send us a message and we’ll help if we can!

Meantime, if you fancy, you can have a look at how we got on here:



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One Response

  1. Heya! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone!
    Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Keep up the great work!

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