Playa Hermosa de Garabito, in the province of Puntarenas, was designated as the next World Surf Reserve, the first in Central America and the eleventh globally, announced the US non-profit organization “Save the Waves Coalition”.The objective of this award is to preserve and enhance the environmental, cultural, economic and community attributes characteristic of the area which, through the organization’s “World Surfing Reserves” program, identifies and selects areas that have a combination of exceptional waves, history and natural ecosystems that must be conserved.
“Playa Hermosa was a perfect candidate for the World Surfing Reserves designation,” said Save The Waves Coalition Executive Director NikStrongCvetich.
“Its incredible biodiversity and environmental attributes, as well as a clear conservation vision for the future, this surf ecosystem is very deserving of the title,” he stressed. He added that this election is very exciting for the program as it is the first World Surf Reserve in Central America.
“Costa Rica is a model of sustainable development that has prioritized the conservation of natural resources, making it a favorite destination for traveling surfers who come to enjoy nature, the rich and warm Costa Rican culture.”
The “National Stadium of Surfing,” as surfers know it, joins the prestigious list of reserves awarded this distinction: Malibu, California; Ericeira, Portugal; Manly Beach, Australia; Santa Cruz, California; Huanchaco, Peru; Bahía Todos Santos, Baja California, Mexico, Punta de Lobos, Chile, Gold Coast Australia, Guarda do Embaú, Brazil and Noosa Heads, Australia.
Environmental, social and economic benefits
One of the most visited places to observe and surf in the whole country, Playa Hermosa is located in the canton of Garabito, which has the coastal forest recovery pilot project led by the Costas Verdes Association, which has planted more than 30 thousand trees with the participation of students and staff from local schools, neighbors, tourists and companies.
The balance between sport, development and conservation of the environment is correlated and must be harmonious to benefit each other, a concept with high potential for replicability.
Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, former Minister of the Environment of Costa Rica and new Executive Director of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) commented that, “Costa Rica is delighted to have received this designation. This ecosystem and surf community is a fantastic model for coastal conservation and this recognition will help drive other efforts across the country to protect our waves and shoreline,”he said.
Both the Minister of Tourism Gustavo Segura and the Mayor of Garabito, Tobías Murillo, agreed that Costa Rica stands out in the world as a tourist destination that allows unique and unrepeatable experiences that reconnect national and international tourists with its essence.
The leaders highlighted the award as one of the few world surfing reserves and without a doubt, it will increase the positive positioning of the Middle Pacific and the country as an optimal destination for surfing mixed with unforgettable natural settings.
Data from the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) indicate that 17% of tourists who visited the country by air in the period 2017-2019 practiced surfing and 72% carried out activities related to sun and beach, which reveals the positioning of Costa Rica as a destination suitable for surfing and with internationally recognized beaches.
The Minister of Environment and Energy, Andrea Meza, explained that the health of coastal ecosystems are essential for the well-being of people and nature. “In Costa Rica we have seen that coastal protection works to give a break to the species that live there, so that communities have additional income and for the physical and mental health of each Costa Rican.”
“The designation of Playa Hermosa de Garabito as the next World Surf Reserve honors us and will allow to enhance the environmental and economic benefits of this sport in the area,” said the Minister.
“Playa Hermosa has been the training and competition ground for many generations of surfers and is an icon of the national surf scene,” said Randall Chaves, president of the Surf Federation of Costa Rica. “This designation will not only increase its prestige but the definitive protection of the waves and the improvement of services for visitors as part of the action plan,” he said.
It is not just a prize, it is an action plan. Being a World Surf Reserve takes commitment and work. It is an initiative to preserve and enhance what already exists and to solve what needs to be improved. To achieve this, a local committee is in charge of identifying threats and opportunities, designing and executing an action plan.
The committee has a conformation according to the needs, represented by members of the Municipality of Garabito, SINAC, MINAE, the Neighborhood Association, conservation organizations, businessmen and local surfers. Among the topics to be discussed are security, the installation of services that benefit the user, the beautification of public areas, guaranteeing access to the beach, sustainable urban planning, reinforcing the refuge’s control and surveillance capacity, mitigation of erosion and other effects of climate change also the reactivation of the local economy.
Laura Zumbado, leader of the local committee, highlighted that the team with local, national and international alliances will work so that future generations enjoy the quality of this beach. “This is a great opportunity for the community to enhance the benefits obtained from our waves and be a model in sustainable coastal urbanism,” she said.
More protected surf areas for Costa Rica
The new World Surf Reserve will also serve as a starting point for the Protected Surf Areas in Costa Rica under the “Surf Conservation Partnership,” an alliance between Conservation International and Save The Waves.
The two organizations will work together with the Costa Rican government and local communities to protect critical surfing ecosystems across the country for years to come. The Surf Conservation Partnership will support national efforts to promote the integrated management of marine ecosystems.
Ana Gloria Guzmán, Executive Director of Conservation International Costa Rica, highlighted that current national efforts aim to ensure that livelihoods improve through nature conservation.
“Initiatives like this are important, as they provide an opportunity for local communities to come together and become actively involved in the management of marine resources, which are essential to their well-being,” she said.