Pavones, Costa Rica Surfboard on Scooter JetSetting Fools

6 Things to Do in Pavones, Costa Rica

Our remote and off-the-beaten-path location of Zancudo, Costa Rica implies a sense of isolation.  The single, unnamed dirt road runs parallel to the six-mile stretch of Playa Zancudo and ends at the point. It is easy to feel secluded and cut off from the rest of the world, but, in reality, there are several day trip destinations. The weekday taxi boat can quickly get us to Golfito, the closest hub for necessities (like a pharmacy and bank) not available in Zancudo. With a private boat hire, we can cruise across the Golfo Dulce to the Osa Peninsula, which boasts a dense tropical forest full of monkeys and other wildlife. There is even a daily bus (albeit an early one that leaves at 5:30am) that can take us to Paso Canoas, a lively Costa Rica-Panama border town. And, if just a different beach is what we are after, there is Pavones, Costa Rica, just 10 miles south of Zancudo.

Pavones, Costa Rica Beach JetSetting Fools

Just like Zancudo – and, we assume, just about every other small town in Costa Rica – the center of Pavones consists of a simple, block-constructed police station, a soccer field, a grocery store, an open-air restaurant and a handful of cabinas. But, what makes Pavones different from Zancudo is the swell that attracts surfers. The surfer vibe is almost palpbable with longboards poking out of the back of trucks, the surf shop buzzing with activity and dozens of surfers waiting in the water for the next wave.  That being said, Pavones doesn’t only appeal to surfers and there are plenty of ways to wile away the day in the small town. Here is our list of six things to do in Pavones, Costa Rica.

Pavones, Costa Rica Surfboard in truck JetSetting Fools


While Pavones,  Costa Rica may be unknown to most of the world, it’s no secret to surfers. When the swell is right the “second longest left in the world” takes surfers for a two-minute-long ride. Young kids, old men, badass girls and pro-surfers all compete to catch the next wave.

Pavones, Costa Rica Surfer on Beach JetSetting Fools

Pavones, Costa Rica Surfer Leilani McGonagle JetSetting Fools

Tip: Want to learn to surf? Rent a board and get a lesson from the guys at Sea Kings Surf Shop!

Watch the Surfers

Those who can’t surf – that would be me! – can still enjoy the surf culture in Pavones, Costa Rica by kicking back under the shade of a tall palm tree and watching the action on the water. The waves break close to the shore, allowing for a spectacular, up close view.

Pavones, Costa Rica Surfing JetSetting Fools

Tip: Bring your camera to catch the surfers in action!

Walk the River

In Pavones, Costa Rica, the Rio Claro – which translates to Clear River – cuts through the town of Pavones and empties into the Golfo Dulce. Crystal clear water lazily makes its way through the shallow riverbed lined with smooth pebbles. For a break from the adrenaline-inducing surf, slow the pace with a leisurely stroll up river in the refreshingly cool water. Find a place in the shade near the bank and splash about a bit.

Pavones, Costa Rica Walk Rio Claro JetSetting Fools

Pavones, Costa Rica Rio Claro JetSetting Fools

Tip: Wear shoes or sandals that will stay on your feet in the water. It is possible to walk barefoot, but only if you have tough feet!


There is no shortage of wildlife in Costa Rica and Pavones is no different. The location on the river and sea make it a popular spot for a variety of brightly colored tropical birds. The iconic scarlet macaw is easy to spot with its blazing red feathers, although, they will most likely be heard before being seen. And, it isn’t only birds that frequent the area – we watched four wild horses parade down the beach, stopping for a sip from the Rio Claro during our visit.

Pavones, Costa Rica Wild Horses on Beach JetSetting Fools

Pavones, Costa Rica Scarlet Macaws JetSetting Fools

Tip: Bring binoculars to better see the birds high in the trees.


On Saturdays, a local craft market takes place at the top of the beach in the center of town. Traditional products made by locals are available for sale. For fresh fish, on the way out of town, stop where the boats are hauled ashore by tractor. Ask around for the catch of the day.

Pavones, Costa Rica Craft market JetSetting Fools

Tip: If you are looking for a unique souvenir or gift, the local craft market could have just what you are looking for!

Enjoy the scenic ride

Getting to Pavones, Costa Rica is half the fun! The area is rural, with ox and cattle being a common sight. The trip offers a glimpse at a part of Costa Rica not directly tied to tourism. The ‘low road’ includes several water crossings, one where we were asked to exit the vehicle and walk across a log-planked bridge while the car passed through the water.

Pavones, Costa Rica Ox Pulling Cart JetSetting Fools

Pavones, Costa Rica Surfboard on Scooter JetSetting Fools

Tip: Keep your eyes peeled! It’s not every day you will see an ox pulled cart or a man washing his horse in the river!


We made the day trip to Pavones, Costa Rica with Zancudo Tours. Check out their website or Facebook Page!

We want to know: What is your favorite thing to do in Pavones, Costa Rica? What else would you add to our list of Things to Do in Pavones, Costa Rica? Tell us in the comments!

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6 things to do Pavones, Costa Rica Surfer Leilani McGonagle    6 things to do in Pavones, Costa Rica Surfboard on Scooter

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10 thoughts on “6 Things to Do in Pavones, Costa Rica

  1. Theresa

    Great post, as well as photos. You guys are living such an amazing life! I applaude your adventure and enjoy blog. So impressive.

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