Monday, January 10, 2022

[SAN MIGUEL] El Cuco Beach

If I have to be totally blunt about it, El Cuco did not really wow me in any way. Don’t blame me. Or maybe blame me after all. I’ve been to many beaches in this lifetime on different parts of the world. There are beautiful beaches. There are beaches that are blah. San Miguel’s El Cuco is blah. Did I enjoy it, though? Well, yes, but defo nothing to write home about. Beaches can be enjoyed not based on their aesthetics alone. What El Cuco lacks in that department, it makes up for through other factors like the overall vibe.

First stop, how to get here? San Miguel is the third largest city in El Salvador, I believe. Don’t quote me on this. I’m not sure if it is the second largest or if that recognition belongs to San Salvador’s neighbor Santa Tecla. In any case, San Miguel still feels like a sleepy town to me. Being the capital of the department of the same name, San Miguel does not really have much to boast about except perhaps being the de facto center of eastern El Salvador. From San Salvador, ride a 2-hour bus departing from Terminal de Oriente Amanecer.

Although not as plenty as their counterparts in the capital, Uber is present in San Miguel, although my experience has not been that great. It’s probably a driver issue? You know, like, Uber Eats taking 2 hours to get to you because the car on the map seems to be taking a tour of the entire city instead of just picking up and delivering the god damn food. I also had an experience where I was charged double because the driver did not end the trip when I got off, for at least another 15 minutes.

You can also opt for chicken buses if you are the more adventurous type. The bus ride from San Miguel to El Cuco is an hour and a half with a stopover in Chiralagua. The bus going back to San Miguel also stops in Chiralagua. The fare is cheap at USD1 per way. Once you reach El Cuco, you will find yourself along the country’s southern coast facing the Pacific. From here, the beaches do not end. Head east and you will end up in La Unión along the water border with Honduras’ Choluteca and Nicaragua’s Chinandega. Head west and you end up in Guatemala. El Salvador is not that big, you know.

As for El Cuco, the sand is rather dark and there are cars and motorcycles running on the shore all the time. Perhaps that is one reason why the beach is dirty. The beach is also flanked by local restaurants, each offering a different version of the same seafood dishes. I chose Mar Turquesa and enjoyed fried fish with rice for USD10, which isn’t bad. Another USD3.50 and I got a bottle of Coke along with a glass of strawberry shake. The view of the sea and the waves while eating with some hammocks in the foreground was a bonus as I feasted on my first legit rice meal in a while. Belly full, I decided to leave.

Overall, the trip lasted longer than the excursion, which I believe only clocked in at around half an hour or so. I would have stayed longer but I didn’t want to risk getting stranded there. It’s just an hour and a half away by bus from San Miguel, but transportation options are rather limited after dark. If you just want to enjoy the beach and laze under the sun, then El Cuco is not a bad place to disconnect and recharge a bit, as well as indulge on homemade seafood dishes. You are also helping the locals by doing so.

Word of caution: there are no banks or ATMs in El Cuco. Some stores do advertise, though, that they accept Bitcoin. But NOT credit cards. Weird flex, but okay. Bring enough dollars for food and transportation. I’d say around USD20 should suffice to survive a day.

[SAN MIGUEL] El Cuco Beach

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