Pavones is a magical place. It’s one of the longest left breaking waves in the world situated in a town that seems 50 years behind every other city in Costa Rica. There’s a lot of information floating around the internet about this place, but I’ve broken a simple guide to surfing Pavones. Where to stay, where to eat, and what to bring along with your journey to this magical place.
Booties are your best friends
Yes, you might look like an idiot wearing rubber booties on your feet, but your body will thank you! Pavones breaks over cobblestones, and theres practically no way to avoid these rocks when your leaving and entering the water. Save your feet the pain of scratches and nicks and get some of these before heading down.
Getting to Pavones is a PAIN IN THE ASS! It’s about 6 hours from San Jose and the last hour and a half is on a dirt road that will wreak havoc on your car (hint, get a rental!) I used Waze to drive down there and it was super simple. There aren’t a ton of road signs so you’ll be glad to know you’re on the right path. Waze was even able to guide me directly to my hotel.
Put $10 in your surf pocket
Pavones is an incredibly long wave. If you’re like me, you’ll be surfing it for most of the day because you have no idea if you’ll ever make it down to this piece of protected paradise again. Before you head out in the morning put some cash in your surf pocket and take a break to eat at Tico Mex. They have some of the best fish tacos and burritos in Costa Rica (or maybe it was because I was so hungry!).
Stay at Castillo de Pavones
This place was amazing. Run by an American couple that make sure you have the best stay ever. Breakfast included as well as amazing views of the ocean and scarlet macaws flying around the hotel. The start of the break is directly down the road from the hotel, a short 10 minute walk.
Leave the boards at home
The road to Pavones is absolutely terrible. Dealing with boards on top of your car and the possibility of them cracking or falling off due to the road conditions is not worth it. There’s a great surf shop next to the break called Sea King Surf Shop that has a decent selection of boards.
Eat BBQ at Ronital every night
This is the only place I ate dinner. 3 nights in a row. It’s basically the back porch of a local’s house. Only 4 options: Chicken, Fish, Ribs, or Pork. Get there early because as the night moves on the options get smaller. They don’t sell alcohol which means you can BYOB. All menu items are $10. I have no photos of this place because I was busy stuffing my face with ribs! I’ll leave you with this video of Robby Naish absolutely crushing Pavones on a SUP instead:
Check the surf report before you head out
Pavones works best on a big South or Southwest swell so it’s best to check the surf reports before making the arduous trek down to what seems like the end of the world. The local surf shop owner told me the break is pretty much good all year round, but if you’re looking for the big sets it’s best to do some planning.
If you’ve been to Pavones share your tips in the comments.
For further reading I suggest this Tico Times article about the prospect of future development there as well as this short video about the “King of Pavones”