Travel Alert – Dangerous Conditions at El Salvador’s Tourist Beaches

In 2021, an elevated number of U.S. citizens (and persons of other nationalities) have lost their lives due to rip currents and other dangerous conditions at El Salvador’s tourist beaches.

 Strong undertows and currents make swimming at El Salvador’s Pacific Coast beaches extremely dangerous even for experienced swimmers. Lifeguards are not always present at beaches. In addition, El Salvador’s search and rescue capabilities are limited, and access to medical resources in these areas is inadequate.  Carefully assess the potential risks of recreational water activities and consider your physical capabilities and skills. Be aware that drinking alcohol and swimming can be a deadly combination.

 Actions to Take:

  • Be aware of surf condition flags that are placed on wooden poles at a regular distance along many tourist beaches. Do not enter the water wherever a red flag is present and take special care to stay near shore and be alert wherever a yellow flag is present.
  • In those locations where a lifeguard is present, follow their instructions.
  • At any location where no or few locals are in the water, take special note and avoid entering the water as locals have more familiarity with conditions and risks.
  • Watch this video from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on how to spot a rip current and what to do if you are caught in one.
  • Enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for safety and security updates.  Encourage your friends and family to register as well if they plan to travel outside of the United States.


El Salvador Emergency Phone Number:  911

U.S. Embassy San Salvador, El Salvador
Final Boulevard Santa Elena
Antiguo Cuscatlán, La Libertad
Telephone: 503-2501-2999 (24 hour phone line)

U.S Department of State –Consular Affairs
888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444

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