Known as a surfer’s haven, Pavones is a small community located along the southern Pacific Coast. Pavones isn’t just another Costa Rica surfer town: this region is home to some of the best, longest waves in the world. The village can be a challenge to get to, over unpaved roads often unmarked, and tricky during the rainy season. However, as the second longest left behind Chicama, Peru, “vale la pena,” as we say in Costa Rica. “It’s worth it.”
Pavones is surrounded by rainforest full of wildlife and rivers that run through it. As it too develops like other beach towns in the country, the locals have a noticeably laid back and friendly demeanor. It reflects the attitude of taking one day at a time, enjoying life and nature to its fullest. This includes not only the waves, but delicious fresh food, often enjoyed over conversations with other locals and strangers. People know how to live off the land here. You see it in the fisherman casting his net and the father making a rancho out of fallen palm branches to provide shade for his family on the beach.
When the south by southwest swell comes in, the surf in Pavones is fast, intense and the ride can last up to 2 minutes. Many surfers who live here claim that there are actually two separate waves. There is the outer wave, which goes across the nearby river mouth, and is the larger of the two, and an inner wave which is relatively calmer. This is a point break though, and experience is still needed to handle the speed of the wave and be able to drop in at the right spot.
When there’s a swell, surfers flock to the beach in droves. A respectful mentality definitely exists in the line up, with almost everyone following the order that they arrived. The break is close to shore, but there is a significant paddle out to the farthest peak.
The bottom is rocky, so be sure to watch yourself if you wipe out early or surf when the tide is close to low.
The best time to travel to Pavones for surfing is during the rainy season, which lasts from April to November. However, this is the most challenging time to reach the area due to the roads and high rivers.
AND THEN SOME…
Even if you aren’t a surfer, Pavones is a beautiful and chill place to spend time if you are looking to relax and be immersed in nature. Due to its location along the ocean, sport fishing is quite popular. Canopy tours in the area and horseback riding through the forest and along the beach are also common activities, if you want to be active.The long, beautiful beach is also a great place to sunbathe, take a long stroll and talk to the locals.
GOLFITO NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Visitors traveling to Pavones will only be 60 kilometers from Golfito National Wildlife Refuge, a small and sometimes overlooked wildlife refuge. Spanning 28 square kilometers, the park was originally created to protect the water for the community. Golfito Wildlife Refuge is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna and a large variety of trees. Some of the species here tower more than 140 feet into the air. This park features several cycads, which are known as one of the most primitive plants in the world.
There are lots of different species of monkeys and birds living in the trees. You may be able to catch a glimpse of them while hiking. The trails are kind of steep and the hike lasts about two hours so make sure to bring water and wear suitable foot gear.
Local carriers Sansa and Nature Air offer daily flights into Puerto Jimenez and Golfito Airport from San Jose. Golfito Airport: This is the most convenient because of its close proximity to Pavones. Rental cars are available in Golfito, and from here it is a two hour drive on a dirt road to Pavones. A public bus also runs twice daily.
Puerto Jimenez Airport: This option is better for those who wish to see a bit of the Osa Peninsula on their way to Pavones. From Puerto Jimenez, a ferry runs twice daily to Golfito. From Golfito, it is a two hour drive on a dirt road to Pavones. A taxi ride from Golfito will cost you between $60 and $70.
Buses depart San Jose for Golfito from the Tracopa station at 7:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. (the 3:30 p.m. bus is direct). The trip takes about eight hours and costs $12. Tracopa Tel: 2222-2666. Buses to Pavones depart Golfito daily at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and the trip lasts two and a half to three hours. To return to San Jose, buses depart Pavones daily at 5:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. for Golfito. They depart Golfito in front of the Deposito Libre at 5:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Take the Caldera highway from San Jose toward the central Pacific coast. Exit, following signs for Quepos/Manuel Antonio and continue on the Costanera Sur highway to Palmar Norte. Then you will get back on the Interamerican Highway until Rio Claro. It Continue south, turning left at the sign to Pavones – about nine miles before Golfito. It can be a little tricky so if you have WAZE app installed on your phone, we highly recommend using it to avoid a wrong turn.
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