Costa Rica is famous for its surf. Both the Caribbean and Pacific Coasts offer great waves. On the Southern Pacific bordering Panama in Golfo Dulce is Pavones, one of the top ten surfing destinations in the world. This surfers paradise is only accessible by a dirt road or boat. It is a legendary spot that revolves around surfing.
Pavones is the second longest left hand break in the world. Running three-quarters of a mile, on a good day you can catch two to three minute rides. April through September is the best time of year for giant swells. This area can go for long periods of time without any swells. So before heading to this remote location, it is wise to check out the surf conditions. The swell starts at a point, then crosses the river mouth, then hits another left point, then goes into a 500-yard bay. When the swell is big, you need to be careful you don’t end up in the rocks at the far end of the bay. It does become crowded with an influx of foreigners who flock to Pavones to surf when the waves are happening here. As many as 200 people can be in the water when a swell hits the coast.
Pavones is home to expats from Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Australia and Central America who came here to escape and surf. Settled by homesteaders in the 60s, the original inhabitants where a local tribe who now live on a reservation in the mountains. The area is hard to access, which keeps out anyone not here for the surf. The area is a surfer’s and paradise with legendary swells located in the midst of a fertile self-sustaining area that borders 20 fresh-water rivers. Locals raise cattle, pigs, grow fruit trees and crops. The expats have created a sustainable village here that remains rustic and unscathed by development plans and is partially supported by ecotourism.
Unlike Pavones, Matapalo is the undiscovered spot. Located across the bay from Pavones, it also offers epic rides. There are three areas here to surf. Pan Dula with small swells is an area for beginners. Backwagon is a place for experienced surfers with 10-foot waves and then Matapalo under normal conditions gets waves up to 25 feet. Although now known in the surfing world, the Matapalo waves are still very un-crowded due to the limited access, lack of places to stay and distance from San Jose.
Pavones and Matapalo both offer legendary surfing and are worth the adventure to travel to for a day or longer. Don’t forget to post your pictures of your epic adventure to facebook and if you feel like mixing business with pleasure, linkedin too. Also, be sure to eat plenty of foods high in iron to prevent any joint pain from these intense rides.
Crocodile Bay accommodates eco tours out to these regions that can be helpful for even the most experienced surfer. These spots located in one of the sweetest spots in the world offer some of the sweetest swells that you’ll find anywhere around the world.