Surfers in Pavones Costa Rica

Pavones Surf Guide: A surfer's paradise off the grid

Costa Rica

Pavones: A surfer's paradise off-the-grid

Pavones (map) is a little sleepy town on the most southern edge of Costa Ricans’ Pacific coast. Why go all the way down there, you might think? Waves are the answer. The second-longest lefthander in the world to be exact. So when swell is coming in, this town is not so sleepy at all, but the place to be in Costa Rica for an endless ride.

Surf photography in Pavones Costa Rica

Bad roads bring you to awesome destinations

It’s a bumpy ride coming down to Pavones. The last 30km are dirt roads and it might just take you two hours for those 30km. A 4×4 is not a luxury here, but a must. The bumpy road and the off-the-grid location make it a place not often visited by loads of tourists. If there’s one thing that makes us surfers happy then it’s world-class waves with not too many people on them. Pavones gives you exactly that. Of course, when swell is predicted, the town fills up. Waves then need to be shared by about 50 people. But hey, have you ever surfed Bali? That’s a quiet day there!

Pavones Surf Specs

But what is all the fuss about, you might think. Well, Pavones is a lefthander seriously competing with Chicama in Peru. If you’re lucky you can ride these waves for about 900 meters and have spaghetti legs by the end of it. There are other spots around if Pavones isn’t working for you. No swell, no problem. Head to Punta Banco for some beautiful lefthanders and even one righthander, and make sure to enjoy the majestic view while in the water. Too much swell for you? Head to Rancho Mar or Saleas and surf those perfect glassy peelers a little smaller than the fast walls of water in Pavones.

Surfer in Pavones Costa Rica
Mokum Surf Club retreat lesson in Costa Rica


But don’t feel intimidated by these specs, even beginners can eat their heart out here. Even though not all spots are beginner-proof, and it is recommended to come in summer (December-January) if you wanna learn how to surf, there are definitely some options here as well.

Did you know we host our own surf retreats here? Come join us and learn to surf on one of the best waves in the world!


Cafe de la Suerte in Pavones Costa Rica

There's more than Pinto

As much fun as it is to spend as much time in the water as possible, you do need to eat, drink and sleep as well. But where? Make sure to sip on a Mango Lassi at Cafe de la Suerte. While you’re there, definitely ask for their chocolate balls and stuff up on their delicious quiche. Then stumble on to Tico Mex to try the margaritas and fish tacos. If you’re craving pizzas (slightly overpriced, but definitely tasty) then head straight to La Pina. Definitely don’t leave Pavones without a visit to Ron’s bbq place; his tuna steak and spare ribs are divine.

Where to stay in Pavones

There are two places we can highly recommend, depending on your preferences. If you don’t mind staying a little further away from Pavones main break, then Rancho Burica is definitely a great place to stay. This beautiful resort right on the beach of Punta Banco is surrounded by jungle (and its friendly inhabitants). Whether you are a bit on a budget or would like a bit more luxury, both needs can be satisfied at this place. The food is mouthwatering good, and the tables are always filled with plenty. You will be assured to recharge here after long surf sessions with both food and hammocks to relax.

Rancho Burica dorm backpackers
Sola Vista Eco Lodge hotel Costa Rica

Sola Vista Eco Lodge

The most beautiful place in town, however, is Sola Vista Eco Lodge. These bamboo houses, up in the trees of Punta Banco give you the most amazing views over, well, basically everything. The ocean, the jungle, the town, the sunset. Their bedroom views seriously can’t be beaten. Add the outdoor showers, animal visitors, incredibly friendly hosts Renato and Denise, and comfy beds, and we’re positive you’ll be just as sold as we are. It’s a short stroll down the hill before you can launch yourself into uncrowded waves. So, what’s not to love?

Pura Vida Pavones

The vibe in Pavones is total pura vida. It’s mostly surfers and nature lovers that make the trip all the way South in Costa Rica. This means there’s a good mix of people from all over the world. The locals are incredibly friendly and laid back (even in the water!), which adds to the fact that almost everyone visiting extends their stay (if not forever). What do you think, worth a visit?

Hasta Pronto,


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Surfer in Pavones Costa Rica

Photos by: Mokum Surf Club ©.

waves at Rancho Burica

Rancho Burica: where the bad road ends and the good life begins

Costa Rica

Rancho Burica: where the bad road ends and the good life begins

So, we ended up where the bad road ends and the good life begins. And what a good life! Rancho Burica is just one of those places that will steal your heart immediately. Not a photo or video will do it justice, ’cause the beauty of nature simply can’t be captured. You just gotta go. You might think now, where is that?! Well, head to Costa Rica and make your way down south to the tiny town of Punta Banco. We promise you, you’ll get swept away.

Rancho Burica in Costa Rica
Luxury rooms at Rancho Burica in Costa Rica

Ocean views and jungle sounds

Rancho Burica is set among lush jungle, with their very own waterfall in the garden, red macaws flying over, and monkeys running around. As if this isn’t enough, Rancho Burica is literally at the beach. With a wave out front. Does it get any better? We guess not.
All rooms are different, but they all have ocean views. They have a spacious dorm, basic rooms, and luxury rooms. So whether you’re on a budget or highly appreciate your privacy and warm showers, there’s something for everyone.

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Let's surf

I remember arriving here at night, having no idea what we got ourselves into. We heard the sound of the ocean quite close by and some howler monkeys seemed to be hidden somewhere on top of the roof. We could straight away take a seat at the dinner table for a home-cooked meal of burritos, which was exactly what we needed after the drive down from Jacó. The next morning we woke up in awe. What a jungle paradise is this. Or wait, what a surfers paradise is this. Because not only are you surrounded by nature in the form of animals and jungle plants, but also in the form of waves. All. Year. Long.

surfer with pelicans on a wave at Rancho Burica Costa Rica
waves at Rancho Burica

Uncrowded waves

With a completely empty wave just out front of Rancho Burica, you can eat your heart out here. Summers are for clean, glassy, long left-handers. Not the biggest ones, but definitely fun. From March till September you’re in for a treat. The waves catch more swell, and when it’s getting too big to handle in Punta Banco, you can always drive down to Pavones for the second-longest left-hander in the world. I can honestly say I have surfed my best wave in my life down here. Long, perfect speed and perfect swell. And spoiled for life now.

horseback riding trip during Mokum Surf Club retreat in Costa Rica

I can't surf. What now?

Non-surfers will be feeling just as much at home. The place embraces the “Pura Vida”. Or better said, sit back, relax and absorb all that the good life has to offer you. You must be wondering what that is, that good life. Swaying in a hammock and read a book? Yes. Gazing over the ocean and spot whales? Yes. Long beach walks without seeing a single footprint or soul? Yes. Riding horses through the mountains and jungle, and galloping over the beach? Oh yes indeed. All of this and more. Spot monkeys, butterflies, sloths, and birds. Do daily yoga sessions with a killer view (I’m not exaggerating at all here. It is priceless.) and gain 20 pounds on delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners (ask for the Mango Bar. After one bite, you can’t live your life without it anymore).

Hooked on Rancho Burica

I love it when you visit a country without expectations and it just blows you away. Costa Rica has been doing exactly this and it will be pretty hard to leave it at some point. Rancho Burica is just the cherry on top and, I promise you, will be the highlight of your trip. I guess that means we’re sticking around for a bit. Do you come to visit us? We’d love to ride a party wave with you in this jungle paradise!

Hasta luego,


For more information or bookings visit their website.

Mokum Surf Club retreat in Punta Banco

Would you like to experience this place just like us? Come join one of our Mokum Surf Club Retreats in Punta Banco! Find out more here.

surfboards Rancho Burica Costa Rica

Photos by: Mokum Surf Club & L. Folkeringa ©.

restaurant in La Boca Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires city guide: Steaks and tango


Buenos Aires City Guide: Steaks and tango

Driven by a world of wonders it’s time for some new adventures. A big one this time; South America! This one has been on my bucket list for quite a while now, ever since I figured I had to travel the world and my family still called me Paris Hilton (who definitely doesn’t do backpacking). First destination is Buenos Aires, Argentina. Not so much surf, but I have a feeling it does have an overload of adventures to offer. City of the tango, steaks, red wine, and dulce de leche; according to those stereotypes I love it already.

Buenos Aires Argentina

Buenas días, Buenos Aires

While staying at a party hostel in the center of town I can definitely say the adventure has started. A visit to Buenos Aires isn’t complete without seeing and dancing the Tango, eating a great steak, and diving into the rich history of this beautiful city. So that’s what we’ll do! I spent my days wandering the streets of areas like La Boca, Recoleta, San Telmo, and Palermo, each having their very own identities. There’s so much to see, do and explore, you’ll need at least a week to get to know Buenos Aires a bit.

San Telmo

San Telmo is the place to be on Sundays. From 10 AM till 4 PM its main street changes into one big flea market filled with craftsmanship, the best smelling parillas (steakhouses), and music everywhere. Wander around or take a seat at one of the terraces overlooking the liveliness of this neighborhood. Not there on a Sunday? No worries, on every other day of the week this neighborhood is worth visiting because of the abundance of cool street art and little shops and restaurants.

San Telmo street art in Buenos Aires
Recoleta cemetary in Buenos Aires Argentina


The perfect way to get to know Recoleta is by joining its free walking tour at Plaza Estado del Vaticano. In about three hours you’ll learn everything about Recoleta and its history. The ultimate highlight of this neighborhood is of course the beautiful cemetery where the grave of Evita Duarte-Peron the main attraction is. Surprisingly her grave is real modest compared to the absurdly huge mausoleums build here. Walking around this peaceful place in the middle of the craziness of Buenos Aires is actually the best.

La Boca

La Boca is such a colorful (and very, very touristy) neighborhood in Buenos Aires. There are street artists dancing the tango everywhere, bright colonial houses, and street art on every corner. La Boca is home to the local and most popular soccer club; Bocas Juniors where the famous Maradona started his career. You’ll see the face of this local hero on almost every street in La Boca. Wander around La Boca, watch the Tango on the streets, visit the stadium of Bocas Juniors and have lunch at one of the many sidewalk restaurants.

restaurant in La Boca Buenos Aires
Fruit market in Palermo Buenos Aires


Palermo, however, is my favorite neighborhood I must say. The cobblestone streets are filled with shops of local designers, and the nicest restaurants and bars. I almost felt like a local having dinner at Don Julio’s, sipping red wine on the street, and eating the best steak at 11 PM. Could Buenos Aires be any more perfect?

Make sure to visit Burger Joint in Palermo, which must serve the best burgers in the world. I’m not exaggerating.

Never enough time...

Buenos Aires has so much to offer, there’s never enough time to discover it all. After staying here for a week I can definitely say I have to get back and learn the tango properly (fluent Spanish might come in handy as well), indulge in all the parillas, and wander the streets of Palermo and San Telmo. Buenos Aires, it was so nice to meet you, hopefully, we’ll meet again soon.

Hasta luego,


Wanna explore more of Argentina? Check out our other Argentina stories here!

This post contains affiliate links. When you book through links in this post, we may earn a commission.

Pink house buenos aires

Photos by: M. Barends©

beach people ponto do oura surf destinations mozambique

Ponta do Ouro: where the ocean is your playground


Ponta do Ouro: Where the ocean is your playground

We mentioned Ponta do Ouro in our previous post already, warming you up a little bit for this gem of a place. Not very well known among international travelers, Ponta do Oura is mostly a getaway for South Africans since it’s practically on the border.

For such a small village, Ponta has a lot to offer. It’s funny how that works actually. Ponta do Ouro is not a place where you’ll find luxury resorts, plenty of restaurants, or any other form of luxury tourism. That’s exactly why this place is so amazing. The town has put its trust in nature and that’s all you need.

ponta do ouro market mozambique

Back to basics in Ponta Do Ouro

So, you can only get to Ponta do Oura by jeep or quad, since there simply are only sand dunes and a lack of roads which makes it impossible to get there by normal car. This kind of warms you up for Ponta’s life. There’s no supermarket, only one cash machine that only works with VISA cards (which I didn’t have… ) and when thunder comes in, electricity goes out. But hey, who needs any of this when you just arrived in paradise? Throw out those shoes (yes, even flip-flops), walk around in your bathing suit for about 24 hours a day (yes, you are allowed to go to the local bar in swimmers at 11 pm), and pick up the Ponta pace.

When the surf's up in Ponta do Ouro

When visiting Ponta do Ouro do take your surfboard with you. It might not be the most trustworthy and constant wave, but when it works, it works. With the right conditions, you can get a 1km ride all the way from the point to the beach, while dolphins are swimming with you. Most likely you got those waves all to yourself since it’s probably just you and a few locals in the lineup.

ponta do ouro beach view mozambique
whales ocean ponto do ouro mozambique

Underwater wonderland

When the surf isn’t working there’s a great big ocean to discover. Ponta is well known for its diving and the huge variety of sea life. I went out in the water with diving company Gozo Azul, which I can highly recommend! Great assistance and you only go out in small groups. There are more than 20 off-shore coral reef dive sites with whales, dolphins, mantas, whale sharks, Nemo’s, and turtles living their life in this gorgeous underwater world.

Hello, Mr. Dolphin

Is all of this a bit too much for you? Then book a day with Angie’s Dolphin center. This company is all about protecting the dolphins in the area and meanwhile educating you about how to do this. Waking up early, getting out on the ocean, and getting a chance to swim with those dolphins was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Back in the days I wanted to be a dolphin trainer, I wrote essays about dolphins, and swimming with them was my little girls’ big dream. I can’t even describe how special it was to be in the ocean with a pod of 30 dolphins swimming around me, trying to play with me and hearing them communicating with each other. Seriously, it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever done!

swimming dolphins conservancy project ponta do ouro mozambique

R&R's and BBQ chicken

Ponta do Ouro is one of those places where it’s easy to extend. You definitely won’t need much when enjoying Ponta life. Just some last words of advice. Because you can’t leave Ponta without a night at Fernando’s and an R&R or two (believe me, you don’t want more). Complete the Ponta experience with a burger or BBQ chicken at Lulu’s burger shack next door at the market. Ask the locals, they’ll know what I’m talking about! And at the end of the day, you’ll probably put this perfect little village in your heart.



ponta malongane view beach mozambique

Photos by: M. Barends & J. Roeland©

view san sebastian city sunset monte urgull spain

San Sebastian: The 5 Must Do's


San Sebastian: The 5 Must Do's

San Sebastian, the city of surfing and food. My two favorite things in the world. This makes it no surprise that San Sebastian might just be one of my favorite cities in Europe. The two combined will keep me busy for days, if not weeks or months, or maybe just forever. Since the rest of the world thinks Barcelona and Madrid are the places to be in Spain, San Sebastian is also quite undiscovered and you won’t be stumbling over tourists at all. To convince you to visit this beautiful city in the Basque country, I’ll share with you a few of my favorites…

playa zurriola surfing beach san sebastian spain

1. Favorite thing to do

Like I said, the city of food and surfing. Playa Zurriola is the most well-known beach for surfing literally in San Sebastian. Make sure you go here early mornings or for sunset sessions because during the day this beach is just as much a tanning and flaunting beach as it is a surf beach. Therefore it might be a bit more of a mission to avoid the crowd. With a beach break, both right and left-handers, and multiple peaks, there’s something for everyone. The best time to surf is definitely between September and December. The swell picks up, while the holiday crowds stay away.

2. Favorite bar

I spend a few summers working on a surf camp in Vieux Boucau and every Tuesday it was San Sebastian day! While we girls were most excited to get our ZARA fix, the boys found a spot to drinks some beers. And what a spot it was. Baptized Spot X so not too many people would find out about it, this little bar on Mount Urgull became everyone’s favorite place to hang out on those Tuesdays. This probably is the most basic bar of San Sebastian, but the view definitely makes up for it. It doesn’t matter at which moment of the day you visit this little hideaway, cause the views over San Sebastian and its beautiful bay will blow you away any time. It’s very hidden, so don’t give up if you can’t find it right away!

Sunset view over San Sebastian Spain
food atari gastroteka pintxos donostia san sebastian restaurant spain

3. Favorite restaurant

San Sebastian is the food capital of Spain with loads of Michelin star restaurants. Not that you have to visit those to eat well, because the city is covered with bars and restaurants that will serve you amazing food for just a dime. Every time I go back to San Sebastian I try to find new places to eat, but there’s one spot I just refuse to skip; Atari Gastroteka! Not only do they serve amazing food, but the place turns into a very fun and buzzing bar as well.  Enjoy some traditional pintxos or order the pulpo or Cote de Boeuf off the grill. No matter what you’ll choose, you’re in for a treat. Is the place too crowded? Get your food and crash on the steps of the square in front of it… Enjoy Spanish life as it is supposed to be.

4. Favorite view

It is quite the climb, but so worth it. Go up to Mount Urgull for the most stunning views over San Sebastian and the basque country. Do take the scenic route up so you get a glimpse of the bays around San Sebastian as well. After you climbed your way to the top, seen the 360 views, walk slightly down and get a well-deserved drink at our favorite bar mentioned earlier.

view over san sebastian beach basque country spain
Old historic center of San Sebastian

5. Favorite neighborhood

A proper tourist attraction, but not without reason. The old historic town of San Sebastian is a maze of narrow streets filled with bars and restaurants where the wine is poured all day long and the delicious pintxos will make you hungry even if you just finished breakfast. If you’re visiting San Sebastian, make sure you stay in this neighborhood so you can crawl back home after too much food and sangria.

San Sebastian: ticking all holiday boxes

Hopefully, we got you inspired with our favorites. San Sebastian really got it all. Beaches, history, beautiful architecture, amazing food, good waves, and such friendly people. Indulge in the Spanish lifestyle with late-night dinners, big lunches, lots of dancing, and great Rioja wine. Have you got more favorites for us? We would love you to share them with us since I guess we’ll be back pretty soon again.
Hasta luego!


san sebastian city view beach ocean spain

Photos by: M. Barends, J. Roeland©

sunset surf session at costa nova beach portugal

Costa Nova: A surfers' getaway


Costa Nova: A surfer's getaway

So we got advised by a Portuguese friend of mine to check out the surf in Costa Nova (map), nearby Aveiro. Only 45 minutes from Porto but a whole other world. The village of Costa Nova is beautiful and charming, though we couldn’t really figure out if the cute painted houses were original or just a tourist thing. Cause don’t let me fool you… Costa Nova is a full-on tourist spot. Including perfect paved sidewalks, a mini-golf track, and a tourist shop every three meters. Stunning nevertheless.

Campfire on the beach of Costa Nova Portugal

Roadtrip adventures

Since we made quite the spontaneous decision on going here (in high season), finding a place to stay wasn’t the easiest thing on earth. We are on a road trip, however, so we brought along the camping gear for situations like these. I’m not necessarily fond of camping, especially not in Europe. To me, this is like being cramped cheek by cheek with my fellow Dutch families and their caravans, animation programs all day long, and your toilet roll under your arm. The point of camping to me is being close to nature, sleeping under a sky full of stars, making campfires, drinking a bottle of wine watching the sunset, and waking up by the sound of birds before anyone else. I’ve tried to find this several times in Europe, but unfortunately so far no luck. Until now!

Costa Nova glamping

We ended up at the Costa Nova camping, which is in the dunes only 10m from the beach and surf! Jackpot! The camping is really basic but quiet and with nice little shaded spots. No animation programs, not a single Dutch car (which is rare, believe me), just a few other traveling surfers and some dogs running around. Here I can watch the stars, see the sunset and hear the birds, exactly the way I imagined it. It becomes even better when you walk down the beach and the place is deserted. Maybe three people in the water surfing and soft white sand as far as the eye can see.

costa nova empty beach surfing sunset portugal

Undiscovered gem

I’m surprised by how this northern part of Portugal seems to be so undiscovered still. The tourists that are here, are mainly Portuguese and it doesn’t feel overcrowded at all. Don’t get me started on the waves, because the ocean is practically empty. You almost start to question yourself if you’re in the right spot. Beautiful beaches, check. Good weather, check. Waves rolling in, check. Fresh fish for dinner, check. Super friendly people, check. I think we’re staying.


sunset silhouette surfing ocean costa nova portugal

Photos by: M. Barends, J. Roeland©

sunrise surf lessons sky no riding no life praia cabedelo portugal

Praia da Tocha: Surf adventures with No Riding No Life


Praia da Tocha: Surf adventures with No Riding No Life

Great minds think alike people say. And sometimes you come across people who have the exact same ideas about certain subjects like you do. This is how I got to meet Dennis, a guy from Amsterdam as well with the same love and passion for surfing and the surfer lifestyle. Taking every opportunity to go traveling and find the best surfing gems in the world. With that idea in mind, he started No riding no life, where he takes like-minded travelers along to surf and enjoy the surfer lifestyle.

Livin' the surfer life with No Riding No Life

So off we went, with a group of surfer addicts to be, to Praia da Tocha, Portugal. One of those gems where the waves are still practically empty, the sun still shines bright in October and the food served just got out of the ocean that very morning. Going on this surf trip with No Riding No Life is not just another surf camp. Surfing is the keyword this week and getting you on that board or improving your skills is the main goal. So surfing lessons every day, yoga sessions three times a week, surfer breakfasts, and a lot of surf talk. Together with an awesome (but small!) group of people, mixed in levels, we were off on an adventure.

sunset surf session no riding no life praia da tocha portugal
sunrise view beach praia do cabedelo portugal

Sunrise surf sessions

We had a lot of sunrise surfs, which to me are the perfect way to wake up. I’m definitely not a morning person, but I don’t mind setting my alarm for stunning sunrises and glassy empty lineups. So that was exactly what we did nearly every morning. Searching for perfect waves in other spots like Praia do Cabedelo and Praia Mira, which were just as deserted as the line up of Praia da Tocha. It was so good to be back in the water again, especially with some guidance to improve my skills.


Part of the surfer lifestyle experience is also the yoga lessons. For balance and flexibility yoga is the perfect workout to add to surfing. Depending on the weather (and the wind) the lessons take place on the beach or at a more shaded place in the village. The yoga sessions were so good for our sore muscles after surfing, and with the sun setting, you couldn’t feel more zen.

yoga session praia da tocha beach ticket2surf portugal
ticket2surf hostel praia da tocha portugal

Ticket 2 Surf

We stayed at Ticket 2 Surf, which by the way is also a very nice place to stay if you’re in the area any other time of the year. Offering both private rooms and dorms, Ticket 2 Surf got something for everyone. Brian and Claudia are the perfect hosts, taking good care of you and more than helpful to find all the treasures in the area. Besides that, the place is just a hop and a skip from the beach. Sounds perfect, right?

Wanna come along?

Lucky for you, there will be more No Riding No Life surf trips in the future. Wanna become a surfer babe or dude? Rocking those waves like there’s no tomorrow? I can highly recommend keeping an eye on the No Riding No Life travel plans, and tag along when they pop up with another surf trip. Check them out on Facebook to stay up to date and get bitten by the surfer bug.


mokum surf club surfing photography waves praia do cabedelo portugal

Photos by: M. Barends, L. Veldman, S. Klumper©