Bienvenidos “Pavones Costa Rica”

Un Dia en Pavones

I’ve done a fair bit of traveling around the world but not nearly a fraction of what today’s surfers do. So I jumped at the chance to dust off my backpack, grab my board bags, and hit a spot I’ve never seen or surfed here in Costa Rica,  Pavones. While my wife and two friends Desi and Raul from South America had all been to Pavones  a couple of times , it was still all new to me. A bad knee injury didn’t keep me out of the water but it did limit my time in action as well as my performance. Good thing, I was able to devote more time to photography and video of the experience.

The drive down the coast to Pavones is  pretty simple compared to, let’s say, here in Nosara. The main road takes you ¾ of the way then it’s up to you to follow signs the rest of the way while driving on somewhat paved/unpaved roads. The biggest problem we encountered on these secondary roads wasn’t navigating to the city, instead it was the amount of potholes dodged while in route. These were not your average potholes, more like giant craters that could total a small car..  However, I will admit  that  it was some of the easiest driving I’ve encountered while living in Costa Rica.

One of the most amazing things about Pavones is the fact that the center of the town seems to be based on and around this wave. The town doesn’t  offer many modern accommodations  and has man aged to retain  its simple lifestyle throughout the years despite a ton of exposure from the film “The Endless Summers ” and all the surf magazines. While visiting  Pavones one can expect to find a few restaurants, a grocery store, hardware store, small internet café, and hotels ranging from in price from 25-30$ a night.. A simplified life that has a great incentive , a great freaking wave!

Proper planning is essential if you wish to visit Pavones.  On this particular trip, we sat down in advance to  review swell forecast , wave heights and direction. .   Many times Pavones can go  flat  for weeks, and sometimes even months. but on this particular day it was on time! Having arrived, we looked to the ocean   catching a small glimpse of what was yet to come.  My  first impression of the wave at Pavones was that it appeared to be  never ending  breaking on and on for as far as the eye could see.  However, we were soon to find out that this was only a fraction of what Pavones has to offer. It is truly a “World Class” wave.  I later learned that the main break was on the other side of the channel and twice as long as I had first envisioned. On the second to last day of our tip the entire wave connected together peeling line after line for minutes at a time. This was true Pavones and it started a few feet to some double over head sets finishing up with a punchy chest high wave that keep perfect form and shape the entire time, while offering fun shacks in certain sections .

Paddling out into Pavones can be as easy or as frustrating as you want. You have a few options . Main break surfers cross the river and paddle out from the public access point so they can catch the biggest part of the wave, while most surfers simply jump on the second peak  later deciding to battle  against the strong inside current that can  pull them into the bay. The further outside you are the less  current you face, but if you catch the long ride far enough towards the channel it’s simply easier to get out and walk back. We spent the first 30 minutes of the session quickly learning about the current.

The wave is incredible when it breaks on the right swell. This particular swell was out of the south at around 7.5 feet every 16 seconds.  It appears that during  lower tides the waves have a certain punch and are above stellar.  However, as soon as the tide fills in all sections of the wave connect  becoming workable for longer than anyone could ever ask.

Locals, contrary to what we were told, are not what we expected. I have often heard stories of Ex Pat agro locals and a negative vibe that will force  you paddle down the beach to shoulder hop the end of the wave.  I can honestly say, I have had ten times more problems with locals in Playa Pelada, Playa Grande, Playa Negra, than in Pavones. There are less issues at Pavones  because when there are waves there are waves for everyone so no one complains. Hell, how could you complain? You simply turn around and catch the next wave which looks exactly like them all.

If you wish to see more of surfing at  Pavones , I have many hours of footage that will be added to our “Finding Utopia” surf flick. The video section of Pavones will feature Pavone locals and scenic landscapes from the area. Some of the clips are minutes of the same wave breaking towards the bay.

If you’ve never seen Pavones break during the right swell conditions you may want to  consider  a trip to see  for yourself. Many thanks to Raul and Desi for  putting us up, letting me surf “Escondida”.  It was a great time.
-Graham Swindell


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