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Surfing Pavones Costa Rica The Longest Left In The World

Surfing Pavones Costa Rica The Longest Left In The World

Surfing Pavones Costa Rica

Nearly all Costa Rican surf towns have been engulfed by tourism, which can truly put a damper on a surf trip to Central America. When you visit the majority of Costa Rican surf towns, you're going to have to deal with the beginner hussies, expensive fish tacos, and most likely, a crowded lineup. Pavones is a tad different.

Renowned as one of the most desolate and remote surf destinations in the entire country, Pavones provides surfers with a total surf oriented experience. It's so challenging to reach this spot and thus Pavones lacks the extreme amounts of surfers from around the world and instead caters to the die-hard barrel hunters.

Yes, you can get barreled in Pavones if you get the right swell.

The Basics

Pavones encompasses 10 miles of different beaches, which lines the nearly untouched Golfo Dulce area of Costa Rica. The Rio Claro is one of the clearest rivers in Central America, and this dazzling spectacle feeds into the gnarliest left breaking wave in the entire country.

Pavones is considered to be possibly the most ample warm water left in the world, which is why so many people have attempted to reach it, though only a few have actually made the trek. I have surfed both Chicama in Peru and Pavones in Costa Rica, and they both give the title 'world's longest left' a run for the money. The only way to know is to surf them both yourself.

Let's take a visual trip to Pavones right now . . .


Dulce - a fresh look at Pavones from Patrick McMahon on Vimeo

That was a sick video, yea?

Literally, you can hit this left for 1 mile plus, and I'm not even exaggerating. One of the most significant parts of Pavones is the entirely chilled-out, relaxed vibe that the area offers.

Located in nearly the southernmost point of the South Pacific region of Costa Rica, Pavones is a little slice of heaven that surfers dream of visiting.

There isn't the chaos of a tourist-heavy atmosphere here, so you can crush waves all day, grab a slice of pizza, and enjoy a nice brew in this desolate surfer destination.

The Waves - Surfing Pavones Costa Rica

The waves in Pavones are legendary. Honestly, if you ask any old time surfer in the South Pacific and don't tell you Pavones is the most rad destination in southern Costa Rica, they are lying to you. Pavones is situated in the "deep-south" of Costa Rica, on the south side of the Gulfo Dulce, near Golfito's small ecologically massive town.

You won't be able to reach Pavones unless you genuinely want to rip it because it's just about the most challenging wave to come in all of Costa Rica. Though it may be a hard wave to get to, finding the town of Pavones is very simple, you just need to have the motivation to get your ass from San Jose to Pavones.

Surfing Pavones Costa Rica
Pavones Costa Rica Region

It's about 8 or 9 hours from San Jose (the capital), and if you're taking a bus, the trip can take 16+ hours due to the number of bus transfers that it requires. The majority of surfers rent a 4x4 car and can reach it without too much trouble, and that's my best advice to you.

Pavones is a world-class wave, consistent as all hell (150 days/year), and is undoubtedly the longest left in the country.

The one problem with Pavones is that it needs a big southern swell to create the monster left that you want. The beach has a sandy bottom with rocks, and the point is a long wrap around on a beach of boulders, so watch where you toss your board.

If the swell is working and you're in Pavones, the wave goes on forever. The typical length is between 400-900 meters, which is ample enough time for you to have the left of your life. Though Pavones is incredibly remote, I must warn you when the swell hits, the town gets crowded. There's a ton of surfers in the south pacific region of Costa Rica, so you can imagine, word travels fast as a Japanese bullet train.

One other little unknown secret about the area is that you can also head south of Pavones and surf a point called Punta Banco, where you'll be able to find lefts and rights. Punta Banco is much less crowded when the swell hits, so it can be ideal for surfers that don't want to deal with a crowded lineup. You didn't hear it here.

Overall, Pavones is one of my personal favorite spots to visit in Costa Rica. It's fantastic when an enormous swell hits my hometown of Uvita, and since the wave won't hold, we grab a crew of Ticos, rent a van, and head down to the holy land of Pavones, Costa Rica. You want a southwest, south swell, the wave starts working at 3-5 feet and holds out to 16+ .
🌊     Let's check the tide now: Surfline Forecast

You can surf at any tide, during any hour of the day, during any weather conditions, because you're in Pavones and should surf regardless of the conditions anyways.

The only downside is how crowded it can get, but that's a small price to pay when you can ride the wave for 500+ meters. No complaints here, mon, just a ton of stoke!

Surfing Pavones Pavones is a world class wave, consistent as all hell (150 days/year), and is without a doubt the longest left in the country.

Staying in Pavones Costa Rica

Pavones is a small Costa Rican town located in the southern Pacific zone near Golfito's town (about 1.5 hours south). The entire village relies on its surf community, but there's a ton of birds, so there's also some birdwatchers.

If you catch Pavones at its peak, you can ride it the entire length of the town and impress all the cute girls watching from the beach—some of the birdwatchers. While most of the population is Costa Rican, many international ex-pats have voyaged to Pavones and have been calling it home for decades.

Due to the number of international cultures in Pavones, there's definitely a very cosmopolitan vibe to the area, making it more welcoming for foreigners. Though Pavones is incredibly small and remote, it does have a few different restaurants for surfers to enjoy but remember, there aren't a ton of options.

There is a small surf shop called Sea Kings in Pavones— grab those goodies you forgot. They also have some boards to hire and offer surf lessons. Obviously, the small Tico Soda restaurants serve up Gallo Pinto, Arroz con Pollo, and other Costa Rican dishes.

Also, a small Italian restaurant dishes up tasty slices of pizza, small pasta dishes, and some other Italian infused recipes. The only other restaurant I know of is the upscale Brazilian style buffet, which has vegetarian and meat-eating choices for surfers with a little more cash to spend on gourmet meals.

There's also a small supermarket that has all the essentials you'll need—meat, fresh veggies, fruit, bread, milk, eggs . . . and yes, beer!

Surfing Pavones Costa Rica
Pavones Surf Shop

Things to Do in Pavones Costa Rica

If you happen to be traveling with people who aren't die-hard surfers (likely not the case), then there are a few no surf activities. There's a yoga studio called Shooting Star Studio where surfers or non-surfers can get a quality stretch in pre or post-surf.

Get in the rental and check out a few waterfalls in the area or book a fishing charter in Golfito. Or go old school and just take a walk with your camera for a ton of wildlife right in your back and front yards.

Surfing Pavones Costa Rica
Osa Peninsula

If you want to take a day off from the waves or they aren't delivering, the Osa Peninsula is right around the corner, and it's one of the most biodiverse places in the world. You can see Scarlet Macaws, sloths, monkeys, dolphins, whales . . . the list goes on-and-on.

All in all, Pavones has a plethora of activities for people to enjoy, but the main reason people flock to this remote little Tico town is for the gnarliest left in the world. It's a peaceful place where you can surf waves, meet people from around the world, share badass stories, and see some of the world's rarest wildlife.

If you want laid-back with a mix of epic surfing, I don't know any place better than Pavones, Costa Rica. Let's take a quick break and take a great look at the wave during a solid swell.

Watch this video and check out the waves of Pavones

Where to Stay in Pavones Costa Rica

I usually sleep in the van we rent or camp in a tent on one of the various camping areas, but there are many housing options for people who don't want to be such a surf dirtbag. When I roll with the ladies, I usually stay at one of the following options:

Option 1: Cabinas La Ponderosa

These are very cozy, homey cabins, tended by a super cute couple. They make you feel at home and provide you with just about anything you'd need while surfing or vacationing in Pavones.

Roberta from Brazil said about staying there, "Amazing place, amazing people, amazing vibe." There's a common area, WiFi, spacious cabins, and a ton of videos to watch - there's a lot of downtime in Pavones.

But the best part about La Ponderosa is without a doubt the care that Marshall and Angela McCarthy provide their guests. Got an extra 100k lying around? Marshall and Angela have some property opportunities listed on their site that look enticing. Tell them Jason says hello and give them a hug for me, they're great people - if you buy some land, can I sleep on it?

Option 2: Caza Olas Hotel and Hostel

This place has a ton of different accommodation options. You can get private rooms, cabins, shared dorms, private rooms with shared bathrooms, the whole shebang.

Rooms start at 15$/night for the shared spaces, and privates are anywhere from 30-60$/night. There's a big kitchen, full of kitchen equipment, WiFi, hammocks, chairs, a porch, comfortable beds, and a super clean hotel.

You can rent surfboards here, book tours, and park your car in a safe location. Cash only, like most of Pavones and Costa Rica.

Option 3: Cabinas Sol Y Mar

This is another option if you want to do the cabin route of accommodation. I've never personally stayed here but have surfed with a ton of people who have.

Only good things. You get your own cabin with a kitchen, bathroom, and private space. Great for surf crews that want to have their own private area. There is an open-air bar and restaurant, WiFi, and a very laid-back atmosphere.

To Sum It Up

Surfing Pavones Costa Rica
Pavones, Costa Rica

Pavones is one of the most unique locations in the entire country of Costa Rica. You'll spend hours reaching this little surf town, but it will be worth every mile (if the swell hits). Surfers from around the world have been flocking to Pavones for the better part of a century, and the waves send surfers home happy.

There aren't many places where you can get unbelievably pitted for 500 meters 150+ days out of the year, but at Pavones, you can.

So pack your back, stuff your board bag with your favorite rip sticks, and head on down to Pavones, Costa Rica. There may not be a whole lot to do as far as partying and nightlife is concerned, but you get to have the pleasure of getting up close and personal with nature in Pavones. I'd recommend Pavones for any surfer visiting Costa Rica. It's a must-see. 

Get stoked, my friends! If you want some amazing surf trip stories and tips, listen to our podcast right here! If you also want some eco-friendly surf gear, check out our site.

Maps of Pavones

Surfing Pavones Costa Rica - Maps