Pavones may be the ultimate surf destination in Costa Rica

Surfers walking at Pavones
Surfers walking at Pavones

For years, travelers have known that the ultimate destination for surfing trips to Central America is Costa Rica, where a seemingly endless supply of world class beaches means that everyday could lead to a new surfing adventure. Surfers who want to explore the waters off of the dual coastlines of the small country will definitely want to make some time to catch the legendary waves of Pavones.

Pavones Beach

Located on the southern Pacific coastline of Costa Rica, Pavones is a beautiful and secluded beach that lies on the interior of the Golfo Dulce, more than a seven-hour drive from the airport in San Jose. While this location ensures that Pavones will provide visitors with beautiful scenery and clear waters, it also means that the beach is blocked from many swells that can make the waves frustratingly random.

The Best Surf Spot

Surfers heading to Pavones will want to pray for a double overhead southwest swell for ideal surfing conditions, as days without will result in waist-high waves at best. Yet when the waves are hitting, Pavones is one of the best surf spots in the country. Pavones features an epic left hand break that experienced surfers can ride for almost three minutes at a time. With the ride estimated at a distance of more than one kilometer, Pavones is arguably one of the longest lefts in the world. In 2011 Robby Naish along with sponsor Red Bull rode the wave at Pavones for 2 minutes and 15 seconds and rode it for 1.09 km, as seen in this Red Bull surfing video. The waves feature several sections, allowing surfers plenty of opportunities to carve, pump and practice their favorite tricks.

When to Visit

The best time to visit Pavones is between April and November, when more frequent southern swells produce some of the biggest breaks in the country. Surfers will also want to pay attention to the tides, as low tide reveals the many smooth rocks that line the shore. Though the rocks are not jagged enough to pose too much of a threat, paddling out and riding a wave in can become a bit more troublesome during the low tide.

Like most of the top surf spots in Costa Rica, Pavones can grow quite crowded on days when its waves are hitting, as flocks of local and travelling surfers can overwhelm the beach. For traveling surfers, it is important to give the local surfers their due respect and avoid crowding a wave.