Pavones Costa Rica Surfers

Pavones – The End of the Road

Pavones is a legendary surf town in Costa Rica, known on the international surf travel circuit for having one of the longest left-hand waves in the world.  When the swell hits the the point at Pavones with the right size and swell direction the wave can go for hundreds of yards.  Watching surfers take of on a wave off in the distance only to see them disappear, still on their feet, deep into the bay is truly a sight to behold.  

Getting to Pavones is a bit of a journey, and that is part of its appeal and what keeps this town from experiencing the explosive growth that other Costa Rican surf towns have experienced over the last 10 or 20 years.

Pavones Costa Rica Surf

You will meet plenty of people who have been making regular surf trips to Costa Rica for decades but have never made it to Pavones.  If you make the effort, and score the waves just right, you will be rewarded with mind-blowing rides, some great stories, and a visit to one of the few surf towns in Costa Rica that really just hasn’t changed that much over the last few years.

History Of Surfing In Pavones

Getting to Pavones

There is no doubt that getting to Pavones can be a long haul.  In a straight shot it will be over 6 hours to drive there from the airport in San Jose.  However, if you just blow though in a mission to get there, you are missing plenty of great surf along the way.

With better surf forecasting, trips to Pavones have become more of a surgical strike, then leisurely cruise.  Since the waves are more fickle and require more precise conditions to really work, when the elements align, surfers from all over Costa Rica will be grabbing up the limited rooms in town and racing down from all points North.

However, if you are planning a surf trip to Costa Rica and are putting Pavones on the list of destinations, you may want to take your time a bit.  Personally, I recommend planning on a layover in Dominical so that you can shake your jet lag and get in the water for a sunset session that first evening, grab another surf in the morning.  Then either decide to stick around for a couple days, or just head down to Pavones depending on how much time you have, how good the swell is, whether you have just fallen in love with Dominical, or any other factors that get surf chasers to stay or to go.

When you get to Pavones, you’ll realize something pretty quickly.  It is small.  It is a small town that hasn’t changed much.  In fact, the last time I was there I was staying in an apartment above Cafe del la Suerte, a place I can’t recommend enough, and the owner and I were talking.  He came to Costa Rica around the same time I first did, but never left.  When I asked him what Pavones was like back then, he casually looked around and said, ‘about the same’.

About the same?  How many surf towns in Costa Rica, or anywhere else for that matter, can you say that about?  As the world has gotten smaller and surfing more popular, the town at one of the best waves on the planet is ‘about the same’.

Where to Stay in Pavones

While you aren’t going to find any large hotels lining the beach in Pavones, there are a wide variety of places to stay. The key thing to remember is that while most of the time grabbing a room isn’t much of a problem, if a swell hits and you haven’t booked anything, every room in town will disappear before you can finish your Imperial.

My first call in Pavones would be to Cafe de la Suerte to see if a room is available. There are only a couple, so its a long shot and I now realize how lucky I was to get something there the last time I was there.

You just can’t beat the location and the view as you watch surfers wrapping around the point from your hammock in between sessions. Plus, the breakfast is amazing and will keep you fueled up for all of the paddling you are about to be subjected to.

Eating in Pavones

Sometimes you’ll be walking down the road in Pavones thinking that the whole place has shut down, it’s just that slow. But there are some real great nuggets hidden in the darkness, and remember when you were up in Tamarindo wishing that Costa Rica was like it was 20 years ago? Well, you got your wish.

There are other places to eat, but if I score a place at Cafe de la Suerte, these are the restaurants in Pavones that get the job done.

Cafe de la Suerte – huge surfers breakfast and a pot of coffee. Everything you need to recover from that morning surf session and be ready for whatever the day holds.

Trip Advisor Review

Oasis Restaurant – Front row next to the soccer field. Great place to grab a burger in the afternoon and watch surfers ending their long rides.

Tico Mex – Good mexican style dinner with large plates.

Restaurant y Cabinas Ebeneezer – Great casado plates and more. The fact that you can see the Ebeneezer fishing boat down the beach lets you know how fresh your casado con pescado will be.

Where to Eat in Costa Rica

Nosara Restaurants

Nosara Coffee

Tamarindo Coffee