Atami is a gated community with quiet, private beaches between El Tunco and El Zonte. One of the beaches is very small and pebbly, with quiet a few houses in front of it. The other, Playa El Parmacito features restaurants by the beach, a surfing schools, hostels/bungalows by or near the beach, a large resort (which has some seawater pools by the beach!) and even a restaurant overlooking the entire beach featuring a large quirky dinosaur.
Booking a Rancho in Atami…
….is actually pretty easy. There are many choices on the popular booking platforms, on large social media sites, as well as options that you can see all advertised on the billboards. Many of the places here are Ranchos which are like large beach houses featuring many rooms, pools, seating areas, outdoor kitchens, multiple hammocks etc. It is generally catered for families or large groups of friends, and is very busy on the weekends when the local El Salvadorans want a quick getaway from the city. Atami is a popular and fairly developed choice as it is situated between well-known areas of El Tunco and El Zonte, with restaurants and even a brewery (Cadejo) dotted along the highway. It is also an easy reach either from San Salvador or from the international airport.
You can choose to book online, or you can walk or drive around to see what is available as there are signs for apartments to rent. However the entrance to Atami has a manned gate, they generally request your name and where you are staying/going.
Our Rancho in Atami!
The balcony area featured a hammock, a long table and an outdoor wet kitchen. As I was working early morning at 5am (to begin work in German time!) I would usually catch the amazing sunrise. Sunrise is usually coupled with many of the birds waking up, including a couple of nests besides the house and not long it become too sunny to work outside (7.30am-8am usually).
Choose a Rancho with a pool
Nothing better than a dip or swim at the pool after a long walk, especially in the hot humid weather or when ending your work day to the timezone in the other side of the world.
Long bench to work on your own or with other people
Watching the sunsets are also amazing too both on the Rancho, by the beachside or at the resort restaurant.
Atami Beach Resort Seaside Seawater Pool
The Atami Beach Resort is nearby, if there are no nearby Ranchos available or if you are travelling on your own or with a small group of even a couple. We did quiet a few dinners and sundowner drinks because the Peliconos restaurant has some amazing views.
Technically it is a private beach, but you can walk down to the beach area to the right of Peliconos.. there is actually another entrance for the public, but since we generally pass by the restaurant to or from the beach we usually go up and down the nicer Atami walkway.
Playa El Parmacito
This beach is amazing to go to for sundowner drinks, mainly local beers.
The kitchen was closed but you can walk along Calle al Parmacito off the beach for some evening pupusas made by the nicest women, “Mi casa, su casa”.
Travelling to and from the Rancho in Atami
You need to either hire a car to be able to easily travel to and from Atami, since 1. it is nowhere near a place to catch an Uber, 2. you may end up walking along the highway pitch black in the night at 8pm or 9pm which is not only not that safe, but stray dogs barking at you is never nice to encounter (as we did once…).
Public transport is a complete no-go since there are more buses to and from the work times during the work day, with buses being more scarce in-between. This was the case waiting on the highway for a good 30-40 minutes, where we thought about flagging down a ride on the backside of a ute but decided against it.
Without a car, you need at least two numbers of local taxi drivers to drive you around. I mention two numbers, as was the case when we had to wait for more than an hour for a taxi driver getting back to Atami from El Zonte one evening since the usual driver was not available.
What about small items?
Atami is really mainly built up as a beach house place, not really a neighbourhood. This means that amenities are fairly scarce. There is only a small tienda near us which closes at around 4pm or earlier and with only snacks, drinks, and some basics like milk and eggs. The bigger supermarkets like Super Selecto, even a pharmacy, are at Puerto de a La Libertad is better accessed either via a dependable taxi driver or your own car.