The Salvadoran fisherman who says he drifted at sea for more than a year has left the hospital where he has been treated for the psychological and physical effects of his journey.

Jose Salvador Alvarenga said Tuesday that he wouldn't return to his hometown of Garita Palmera, but did not say where he was headed.

"I'm doing well, thank you," he told reporters. "Thank you everyone. God bless you."

He appeared strong and walked on his own, surrounded by family members, doctors and a lawyer.

Alvarenga's story stunned the world when he washed up on a Pacific atoll several weeks ago, robust and barely sunburned. But he had started the trip weighing much more, and turned out to be swollen, dehydrated and in pain from the ordeal.