Bird and Wildlife Watching
The rainforests around Pavones are extremely rich in biodiversity, providing a natural habitat for howler monkeys, toucans and sloths. The Tiskita Biological Reserve offers the best opportunities for wildlife viewing in the area, attracting an impressive species list to its grounds. There are over 270 varieties of bird in the area, including scarlet macaws and trogons.
Beach walks and river hikes are a tranquil way to explore the area on foot. The Tiskita Biological Reserve features an impressive network of trails throughout 800 acres of verdant, unspoiled nature.
Horseback riding trips run along the beach, through the Tiskita Biological Reserve, and to the nearby Guaymi Indian Reserve.
Some places along the cool Rio Claro are deep enough for kayaking. Monkeys and other animals commonly populate the river’s shores.
Kite surfing conditions are ideal along the windy bay north of Pavones’ main point break. Here, winds blow inland – so there is no chance of getting swept out to sea. Kite surfing adventures for all skill levels are available, typically ranging from three days to one week in length.
A small spa offers body scrubs, face masks, massage and reflexology treatments. Therapists work magic on muscles, tendons, and general aches.
Many lodges and shops rent bicycles with locks by the day or week. Follow the shaded coastal road to explore the town.
Snorkeling and Diving
The best time to snorkel and scuba dive in Pavones is during the dry season (February-April), when the gulf is crystal clear and warm. Opportunities abound for viewing dolphins, rays, sea turtles, and a variety of tropical fish in their natural habitat. When waters are calm, the rocks in front of restaurant La Pina are ideal for underwater exploration. Another option is to drive minutes farther south to the shores of Punta Banco. Diving trips to Cabo Matapalo and a number of nearby islands off Panama can also be arranged.
Sport fishing journeys are available off 19’ boats with outboards. Red snapper, roosterfish, yellow fin tuna, mahi mahi, and king fish are just a few of the catches fishermen are likely to bring home for supper.
Stand-up Paddle Surfing
This fairly new sport is a cross between kayaking and surfing. Participants mount a surfboard and using a kayak paddle, propel themselves forward and onto waves – almost as if they were sweeping a floor with a broom.
Pavones is home to some of the best surfing in Costa Rica. A left break of 3/4 of a mile to one mile long (depending on where the measuring begins), makes it one of the longest in the world. Advanced surfers start at the southern end of the break and work their way left. Beginners try to stay out of their way by sticking to the northern section, where the waves peter out.
Local surf contests are held in April, May and June. Larger, sponsored events occur at least once per year. Professional surfers visit Pavones year-round, but particularly during the rainy season. Several pros live here full time, and never fail to entertain the crowds with tricks that seem to defy the laws of physics.
When the swell comes in from the Pacific, waves grow to enormous heights. December and January are the most inconsistent months, with March and April bringing clear waters and steady waves. The rainy months of May to November offer absolutely perfect conditions, with warm temperatures and well-formed crests.
When Pavones is crowded, locals enjoy the beach break located five minutes south at Punta Banco. Here, waves peel left and right – and are sometimes slightly larger in size than in Pavones. Boat trips to surf Cabo Matapalo’s three famous breaks are also available, leading just four and a half miles across the Golfo Dulce.
Boards can be rented for about $15 from the surf shop across from the soccer field, or from the surf camp past Escuela Camino Claro. This camp tailors mostly to female clients, and offers affordable, custom-designed excursions for large groups of women.
The mouth of the Rio Claro is an ideal swimming location, especially popular with families. Hikes upstream reveal several refreshing swimming holes and waterfalls. One of the best is located to the left of the bridge leading to Punta Banco.
Swimming in the ocean should be reserved for strong swimmers only – as a general rule, only
surfers venture out past the breakers. Depending on the tides, locals can recommend nearby locations where currents and waves are gentler.
Yoga classes are offered daily in a studio near the soccer field. Classes cost $10, and are mostly Bikram style. This type of yoga is also known as ‘hot yoga,’ as 26 poses are done in a room that is kept at 105° F with 40% humidity.