Near the border of Panama in the most southern area of Costa Rica scarlet macaws sound through the trees and the essence of pura vida is in the air. On the Pacific Coast, the remote town of Pavones hides from the hectic schedules and busy city life, a secret haven for laid-back life.
Pavones has survived the threat of an overabundance of towering infrastructures infringing on the shores still maintaining its authentic and remote feel. Taking hours to reach this surf village, getting here is part of the adventure. You will see and feel the progression of life-changing, the stress of life melts away.
As the route continues it feels more underdeveloped and simpler, the once fast-moving paved roads become basic gravel and dirt routes forcing you to slow down and take in the lush rich green forests around you. The bridges no longer have the protective guardrails making you take caution as you hesitantly cross over the old-fashioned one-lane bridges, holding your breath as you enter what seems like a new frontier of untouched land.
The long drive gives you a chance to transition for what is to come, slowing your mind and body down for the chill town that lies ahead.
It wasn’t until the seventies when things started to change in Pavones, seeing development, all thanks to a friend sharing his discovery of an amazing surf wave he came across. Dan Fowlie needed to see this for himself.
A Costa Rica Travelers Curiosity
He came to Costa Rica, flying over the coastline witnessing the magic from above in a chartered plane. He was sold right then and there. Purchasing most of the property that surrounded the coastline here, legendary surfer Dan Fowlie began creating a quiet town in front of what he called “the best left surf break in the world”.
Employing most of the people in the area he created roads, homes still maintaining a lot of the unspoiled land, building only the things needed to make an unknown small town. Free of excessive and loud traffic often many with just horses and bicycles to get around they had their own private surf town. Hidden from the world, with the waves all to themselves people often called Dan Fowlie the founder of Pavones.
Check out the series of 4 interviews that the Tico Times did with Dan Fowlie in 2016 on our YouTube channel
The Rise in Popularity of Pavones
Over the years, Pavones was no longer a secret and has become a popular surf destination but the tourism still remains peaceful. The town has added to itself over the years with small grocery stores and shops but you will not find chain restaurants and tourist-themed places. It maintains its heart of being back to basics and simplicity which allows it to keep its core. You can find healthy natural options, cafes, local traditional foods with a small mixture of other authentic flavors.
If deciding to make the quest to Pavones, it is not a day trip but a time to retreat from the world, recharge, and relax. The yoga culture is tranquil here with a few studios linking you with the harmony of nature and wellness. With views of the Golfo Dulce, you can engage in connecting your mind, body, and spirit surrounded by the tropical jungles. Time in Pavones is a chance to breathe, slow down, listen within and to the pure sounds around you.
The Beaches in and near Pavones
The beaches are untouched, with dark sand, drowning with tall trees along the shore as opposed to development feeling remote and secluded. Walking along the beaches there will be small tidepools to play or sit in when the tides are low surrounded in an environment of natural beauty.
Only a few miles away is Punta Banco in a tiny little village with black sand beach, extensive tidepools, and minimal people on its shore. Perhaps at times, you will find more turtles on the beach than people, the Olive Ridley turtles nest in these sands, and in December green turtles make their way to lay their eggs.
Playa Zancundo is about 45 minutes away but has amazing swimming in its clear blue waters for a tranquil day out. Alongside the water is a long flat dark sand beach often quiet and deserted stepping into your personal tropical oasis.
After spending quiet days at the beach and in search of an adventure rent some tubes in town and spend a few hours tubing down the Rio Claro. This is not a quiet, lazy day river to peacefully float down, be prepared for some adrenaline, excitement, and a surreal experience.
The ride will have you feeling incredibly small as you look up to the towering jungle above you immersing yourself in everything you imagined Costa Rica would look and feel like. The vibrant and lush green trees, the flowing river waters over the rocks, and the sounds of nature swarming around you. Inside these forests are scarlet macaws, chestnut-mandibled toucans, and several hundred species of birds.
Slowly moving through the trees and sleeping high nestled in the branches are the quiet sloths. As you ride through the river look around and you might see coatis and iguanas, or the three types of monkeys residing in this area, howler and white-faced capuchins and even squirrel monkeys. The hike up the mountain is worth every moment for the memories you will take from the wild ride.
However, the main draw to Pavones aside from its raw beauty and desolate location of a true escape is for the legendary surf. That is the reason for many to pack their vehicles and load their boards, taking the long drive because they know the reward of it all. With consistent world-class waves Pavones attracts those whose passion is deep in surfing all year round, but when the swell hits, word travels, and the crowd’s flock.
Surf culture keeps this chill town alive with its true laid-back spirit. Pavones is renowned for its famed left break where your soul feels at home and alive paddling out into the clear waters for the next epic wave.