The rocky shores of Playa Pavones are littered with nooks and small beaches, each separated by a rocky outcropping or a bend in the shoreline. There is little development along the coast, which preserves the natural beauty of the area – and all buildings are set inland. Hidden rocks and unpredictable currents make Pavones’ waters less than ideal for swimming. Tidal pools, and the creatures that inhabit them, make for interesting beach walks at low tide. Parking can be found along a dirt road that parallels the shore.
Punta Banco is located two and a half miles south of Pavones. The beach breaks here are less consistent and a bit harder to surf, with waves crashing about 600 feet away from shore.
This grey sand beach is located just a few miles north of Pavones – but due to bumpy and winding roads, the journey takes at least 45 minutes by car. Waves are good for surfing, but not as impressive as the break at Pavones. Because it is so isolated, Playa Zancudo is almost always deserted.
Rivers and Waterfalls:
Hiking up the Rio Claro is one of Pavones’ most popular and relaxing activities. Monkeys play along the riverbank, and the refreshing waters are perfect for swimming. The estuary where the Rio Claro flows into the Golfo Dulce is known as “The Point,” and is a wonderful place to watch surfers effortlessly glide across enormous waves.
Punta Banco Waterfall
Driving over the bridge to Punta Banco, a small waterfall with a swimming hole can be found on the left hand side.
A 100-foot waterfall is situated just a short hike away from the Tiskita Biological Reserve. These cool waters are ideal for a quick dip.
Parks, Reserves and Refuges:
Guaymi Indian Reserve
At sunrise, travelers can partake in the five hour hike to the Guaymi Indian Reserve. This indigenous tribe lives at varying altitudes along southern Costa Rica and Panama. They are permitted to cross the border freely, which is exactly what they do each year when the Costa Rican coffee harvest is ripe. The Guaymi are a fairly self sufficient people, with each community growing their own crops – mostly corn, yucca, beans and rice. Many men work on cattle farms, and women sell handmade crafts like cloth bags, woven hats, colorful dolls and traditional jewelry.
Tiskita Biological Reserve
The Tiskita Biological Reserve offers exceptional birding and hiking throughout 800 acres of raw nature – 300 of which are primary rainforests. Run by the well-known biologist Peter Aspinall, the property is home to over 125 species of tropical fruit trees, 270 species of bird, and 60 species of butterfly. A number of conservation projects are in place at Tiskita, helping to recover endangered wildlife like scarlet macaws, peccaries and sea turtles.
Piedras Blancas National Park
Formerly considered a part of the legendary Corcovado National Park, Piedras Blancas is home to a mind-boggling array of plant and animal life. The area receives around 200 inches of rainfall per year, creating an incredibly lush habitat for a species list that is almost identical to Corcovado’s. Rescue organizations committed to scarlet macaws and wild cats have a great deal of success inside the park, mostly due to its extreme isolation. Peccaries, poison dart frogs, howler monkeys, crocodiles, and over 330 bird species inhabit the zone. Piedras Blancas is best reached by boat from Golfito, which is about a two hour drive from Pavones.
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