Road Routes: El Tunco to El Cuco Bus

*** Updated October 2015 *** Just had a recent email from some backpackers traveling in El Salvador who confirmed that this route is still active and works well. If you’re taking the trip please continue to leave comments if anything changes. Gracias!

Getting from one cruisey beach in El Salvador to another shouldn’t be a hard task. That’s why we’ve mapped out the best way for you to take an El Tunco to El Cuco bus without any hassles and big spending. Discovering this trip was a bit of a mission, but we made it in the end, and this is how we did it. If the beaches of El Salvador are calling, then this is the trip for you!

el tunco to cuco bus

El Tunco to La Libertad

Try to get over the early morning hangover and get out of El Tunco by 9am. Walk up to the highway and grab a #80 bus back towards La Libertad. 20Mins – 25c


 La Libertad bus to Comalapa

Catch the #187 bus (double check with the #186 as well) from out the front of the big wooden ship on the main beach road. You’ll ride along the Highway 2 until you hit the intersection with Highway 5 coming down from San Salvador. Not sure how frequently they come, but we waited about 20mins. Better frequency in the mornings. 1hr – 60c


Highway Intersection

Ask the driver to get off ‘a el puente por la carratera numero cinco’ (at the bridge for highway number 5). Get off before going over the bridge, which crosses Hwy 5, and follow the path that leads underneath it.


Under the Bridge

Time to head under a bridge in the middle of nowhere in El Salvador. This sounds like the sketchy part, but don’t worry. It’s tried, tested and came out clean. Once you walk underneath you’ll find it full of people waiting to make connections and busy street food vendors, all eager to help assist you.


Highway 5 to El Delirio

Wait to flag down a bus headed towards San Miguel. You don’t need to go that far, so be sure to tell the driver you’re only going to El Delirio. You’ve now done all the hard work; just make sure you don’t miss your stop. If you go too far don’t worry, you’ll end up in San Miguel and just have to trek your way back. 2 hours – $3.00


El Delirio to El Cuco

Get off at the roundabout and turn right. Once around the corner you wait to flag down a bus headed towards El Cuco beach. You’ll pass through the town of Chirilagua (where the only ATM is if you haven’t taken out money yet), and then onto El Cuco.


Getting to El Cuco Beach

Once you arrive in the center you have a few options. You can head west to Flores, renowned surf spot among locals and travelers alike, or head east to the beautiful beach El Esteron and stay at the gorgeous hotel/backpackers La Tortuga Verde.


Enjoy the beach of El Cuco

If you need any more convincing about beautiful beaches in El Salvador why not check out these posts on the beaches of El Salvador or the El Tunco vs. El Cuco article to find out which beach is best for you.


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Going from El Salvador to Nicaragua?

If you’re headed to Nicaragua after the beach be sure to follow our El Salvador to Nicaragua bus for the cheapest transport in all of Central America.


Travel Tip

Speak to locals about where you’re going. Bus attendants aren’t always the most reliable in letting you know when it’s your stop. Locals are always happy to help out and shout out when it’s your time to get off. We have even experienced locals yelling at bus drivers for not telling us our stop. Now that’s commitment!


19 thoughts on “Road Routes: El Tunco to El Cuco Bus”

  1. Hi,

    I’m currently travelling around the world with my partner and we use blogs like yours all the time to figure out best ways to get places, best sites to visit and best local gems to explore. Firstly – thank you so much for your easy step by step guide on how to get from El Tunco to El Cuco – it helped us massively and saved us a ton of cash 🙂

    Once we arrived at La Tortuga Verde in El Salvador we met with Tom the owner who told us about the horrific illegal turtle egg trade and we wanted to help. With Tom’s support we created an IndieGoGo campaign to save every turtle egg on el cuco beach. Tom has very generously offered some great perks which I think your readers could take advantage of – and you if you’re ever in this part of the world again. I’m sure you get tonnes of emails asking you to post and share things all of the time, but this campaign really can make a difference. If you could share this with your readers we would be over the moon.

    Thanks in advance

    • Hey! Thats so cool that you’ve gotten so involved! What a terrible business the illegal turtle egg trade is 🙁 Very sad. We very much enjoyed our stay at La Tortuga Verde and saw what great work they are doing for the turtles. We’ll be sure to share this with our readers. Thanks for letting us know!

  2. Im a little confused, because according to maps (googlemaps) it seems like highway 2 goes all the way to El Delirio (not 5). Also any problems with safety?
    I am very grateful for this post. Thanks!

    • That’s correct, Hwy 2 goes all the way, but unfortunately you cannot take a bus from El Tunco all the way to El Cuco. So by following the above instructions you can jump across the different buses that you need to take. No problems with safety at all, but it’s always better to travel early so you don’t get stuck somewhere at night. Hope you make it ok 🙂 Let us know if any of the information changes.

  3. Hey! This is super helpful– thanks so much for posting. I’m in El Tunco now but I’d like to get to a beach where I can walk down the beach and do some swimming so I’m thinking of heading to El Cuco. Do you know if it’s possible/difficult to get to La Ceiba, Honduras from El Cuco? I’m fixing to scuba dive in Utila afterward. Any insight would be awesome! Thanks so much!

    • I’m glad our post was helpful! El Cuco is really awesome, did you end up going? Hope you made your way to La Ceiba okay! Not sure about transportation, but Utila is an awesome spot to go scuba diving! Have fun!

  4. Just wanted to say thanks for the tip – used this route a few days ago and got there with no hassle! Didn’t even need to get the bus from El Delirio as we got a lift from a Salvadoran family going the same direction 🙂

  5. Thanks so much for the tips, I made this journey this week. The only thing was the bus the locals told me to get from under the bridge took me to a slightly dodgy looking bus station where I had to get another bus to El Delirio. So if this happens to anyone don’t panic! At El Delirio no bus came for an hour and a guy who lives near the Tortuga pulled over and gave me a lift.

  6. Hey, we did this route today and your advice was super useful. we can confirm that all of the above is still valid. It took us 7 hours all up but we didn’t leave until 10am, so spent about 2 hours waiting for buses and one of our buses broke down for half an hour as well. If its useful for others, the bus we caught under the bridge was number 301-A and it cost $2.50. I think you could catch the 302 and change one more time. The bus we caught at El Delirio was the 320.

  7. Thanks for the tips! Made the the trip today and it worked all well. Just for the information, I took another bus from la Libertad to Comalapa, as the 187 did not come frequently. A lot of bus go there, you just have to ask. Then, there was no bus going from comalapa straight El Delirio. I took a bus going to Usulutan, went down to the bus terminal and got another bus to El Delirio (San Miguel direction). After that, just got the bus to El Cuco!

  8. Hi, has anyone done this the other way round- from El Cuco to El Tunco?

    We want to do this tomorrow but not sure about which bus to catch heading where! Tia!

  9. Hey, we did this trip today and had a similar experience to Jeremie (above) in that we had an extra bus after being dropped at Usulatan.

    After that we actually managed to get a bus at the roundabout to take us straight to La Tortuga Verde for $1.25 each – result!

    Thanks for the tips, they gave me a lot more confidence for the journey!


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