Stay: Puro Surf, El Salvador
Come for the waves, stay for the dining and accommodation.
Surf trips, like pretty much everything else in life, are about feeding a peculiar individual kink and/or preference.
What makes sense to some is god-awful to others.
I’m impatient and not proud of that fact, but I also don’t like booking a surf trip months in advance to sit somewhere only to see a swell-of-the-year arrive the week or two after you’ve been a guest.
For me, a quick surf trip is about providing a counterbalance to life running a small business and spending disproportionate hours of talking about surfing rather than actually doing it.
It’s a chance to spend as many waking hours as possible in the ocean: to thrash your body, hopefully getting the endorphins and adrenaline synapses to fire and then board a plane knowing I safely got my bag limit.
So, I took a trip to El Salvador, chasing a south swell. You’ve probably seen the footage of Torren Martyn riding those right points; that’s what got me.
Without using the words “strike” or “mission”, I took a red-eye flight out of LAX to San Salvador (departs 11pm, land 5.30am), and was picked up by Marcos in a blacked-out SUV, just 40 minutes from Puro Surf.
In my experience, it’s best to avoid resorts with the name “surf” in them. It’s usually a forward-looking indicator for shitty food, even shittier 2006 surf movies playing on repeat in a mess hall and an entire Spotify library that avoids all but one artist: Mr Bob Marley.
I especially avoid places that have surf camps or a “surf academy”. While I can certainly use the help on technique, I can think of nothing worse than having to grimace through film evidence of my mediocre water slaughter.
Plus, using Pritamo Ahrendt’s new harsh WSL judging scale, you don’t want your highlight wave of a three-day surf trip – in proper waves, no less – to max out at a 3.0. (However, there’s a gentle bowl out front and plenty of film equipment on-hand at PS, if surf improvement gets you hard.)
But let’s talk why Puro Surf should sit on your to-do list.
Let’s start with the waves. Right out front there’s a couple of really fun setups. There’s a right point with a shorter left coming off it. On high tide, directly in front, there’s a rip bowl left. It’s not world class, but it’s uncrowded and really fun. Plenty good enough to ride a tuned-up shortboard.
These guys also have Awayco on site, so there’s a bunch of boards here if you want streamlined, boardless travel.
Twenty minutes away is a better, more world-class wave, efficiently dominated by locals.
The confident young bulls who run the wave are pleasant, so long as you know your place in the lineup: which is toward the end of the wave. You can bank a few turns here, but it’s not as top to bottom as the outside section of a wave.
It’s probably a subject for another time, but on the divisive subject of localism, I’m a big fan especially in this case. The order creates of a sense of calm. And besides, you don’t need to be able to read a synoptic chart to get wave.
Our emails light up when swells are en route and we can jump an overnight flight and show up with the first pulse. A local who spends his whole life at a wave surely doesn’t have to get in line and wait behind the tourists who just rolled into town.
Back to the resort: in terms of the architecture and fitout, Puro Surf is a super slick modern blend of glass, steel, timber, and polished concrete.
It’s 12 modern villas are built into the hill, and down to the beach. The highlight is an open-plan restaurant, with pool below, overlooking the surf.
The restaurant is covered by a dozen silos of thatched roofing that collects rainwater that is then harvested and run throughout the taps and showers on the resort. These guys encourage you to fill your bottle from tap.
The rooms are modern and board racks flank the wall when you walk in. Aircon is throughout and the food is absolutely world class.
Since I got back, I hear a lot about El Salvador being the deadliest place in the world. My socio-economic politics ain’t great, but from research and what I saw and heard down there, that’s mostly gang fighting, and tourists are off-limits (I then point to the fact that we all keep going back to Bali, even though they’ve actively killed tourists there).
Beyond the maniacal driving, El Sal felt completely safe and the armed security detail at the front check the vehicle, not dissimilar to the process that takes place in Balinese hotels.
Guys like Dane Reynolds don’t like doing surf trips to anywhere there’s a “surf resort.” My own personal kink is avoiding milk-runs and downtime: a pain-free show up and blow up with minimum of crowds. Add in accoutrements—good food and nice accommodation—and it’s a repeat visit.
Here’s Puro Surf’s remarkable cafe, Covana’s menu, if your not salivating yet:
Ed.’s Note While we were invited as guests of the camp and free of charge, our food and bar bill for four days of very good living was barely $400USD.
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