Thursday, 22 October 2020

Playa Hermosa becomes the first World Surf Reserve in Central America

The distinction is awarded by the ‘Save the Waves Coalition’, an organization that will work together with the Costa Rican government and local communities to protect critical surfing ecosystems throughout the country.

News Playa Hermosa becomes the first World Surf Reserve in Central America

The distinction is awarded by the ‘Save the Waves Coalition’, an organization that will work together with the Costa Rican government and local communities to protect critical surfing ecosystems throughout the country.

(QCOSTARICA) After a close competition in which the best waves from all continents participated, Playa Hermosa de Garabito, Puntarenas, was designated as the most recent World Surf Reserve (WSR) by the non-profit organization Save the Waves Coalition (STWC ).

Carlos Muñoz enjoys the consistent waves of Playa Hermosa. Photography: Esteban Delgado

In addition to international recognition, the objective of this award is to preserve and enhance the environmental, cultural, economic and community attributes characteristic of the area.

- payin the bills -

The “National Stadium” of Costa Rican surfing will be the first World Surf Reserve in Central America and the eleventh globally.

“Playa Hermosa was a perfect candidate for the WSR designation. With its incredible biodiversity and environmental attributes, as well as a clear conservation vision for the future, this surfing ecosystem is highly deserving of the title.

“This is also a very exciting choice for the program, as it will be the first World Surf Reserve in Central America,” said Save The Waves Coalition Executive Director Nik Strong-Cvetich.

The organization finally adds that as a country, 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 and warm culture.

- paying the bills -

Save The Waves announced that Playa Hermosa has officially been approved as the next World Surfing Reserve (WSR).

All these elements weighed for Playa Hermosa to join the prestigious list of World Reserves along with:

  1. Malibu, California
  2. Ericeira, Portugal
  3. Manly Beach, Australia
  4. Santa Cruz, California
  5. Huanchaco, Peru
  6. Bahía Todos Santos, Baja California, Mexico
  7. Punta de Lobos, Chile
  8. Gold Coast Australia
  9. Guarda do Embaú, Brazil
  10. Noosa Heads, Australia.

Hermosa, Puntarenas (not to be confused with Hermosa in Guanacaste)is one of the most visited places to observe and practice surfing in the whole country and it seeks to achieve a harmonious balance between sport, development and environmental conservation, so that it can be replicated on other beaches in the country.

A Unique Surf Spot

Playa Hermosa’s beach breaks deliver all year round A-frame peaks, perfect waves, and several tube riding opportunities. The area has 15 surf spots, including point breaks.

Although it shines in the spring during the south swell season, the region produces the most consistent waves in Costa Rica.

- paying the bills --

Playa Hermosa was first surfed by locals in the 1970s.


“Playa Hermosa has been the training and competition ground for many generations of surfers and is an icon of the national and world surf scene. This designation will not only increase its prestige, but the action plan includes the definitive protection of the waves and the improvement of services for visitors and the protection of its ecosystem,” said the president of the Surf Federation of Costa Rica, Randall Chaves.

For his part, the executive director of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, stated: “Costa Rica is delighted to have received the honor of being designated a World Surf Reserve in Playa Hermosa. This ecosystem and surf community is a fantastic model for coastal conservation and this designation will help fuel other efforts across the country to protect our waves and shoreline. ”

Tourism and environment

Data from the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (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 is 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 the communities have additional income and for the physical and mental health of each Costa Rican,” said Meza.

In addition, she indicated: “The designation of Playa Hermosa de Garabito as the next World Surf Reserve honors us and will allow us to enhance the environmental and economic benefits of this sport in the area.”


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.

This 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 and 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 wave.

“This is a great opportunity for the community to enhance the benefits obtained from our waves and be a model in sustainable coastal urbanism,” said Zumbado.

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