La Libertad is the first port of call for many travelers fleeing the capital in search of Pacific Coast surf beaches and all the misadventure that entails. Its no picture postcard, but the notorious Punta Roca wave breaking before a bustling fish market and malecón creates a striking urban image hard to manufacture elsewhere in the world. Its reputation as dangerous is not unfounded, but it's hardly the wild west many pundits suggest.
Beyond the beach, La Libertad is an important commercial center – thanks mostly to the port – with more energy, souped-up buses and loud-mouthed touting than you’d expect for a town of such modest proportions. Most travelers bypass it for the more chilled-out beaches to the west, or the Deininger national park to the east, but it’s an ideal stop to stock up on supplies, or to experience a midsize, working-class Salvadoran city within minutes of your hammock.