Playa Hermosa in Costa Rica is officially a World Surf Reserve

Playa Hermosa officially joined the ranks of World Surf Reserves on June 12. Photo: Save the Waves Coalition

On Sunday, June 12, Playa Hermosa, a shining gem of a beach in Costa Rica, has officially become a world surf reserve. There are only twelve surf reserves in the world and Playa Hermosa is the first in Central America.

When a beach is designated as a World Surfing Reserve (WSR), a few important things happen. The WSR program is run by Save the Waves Coalition, and the goal is to recognize exceptional waves around the world, and then protect the key environmental, cultural, economic, and cultural attributes of the region in which they exist.

The inauguration was attended by the World Surf League, Save The Waves Coalition, Conservation International-Costa Rica, representatives of the National Conservation Area System and Mayor Tobías Murillo.

“As surfers, we have a responsibility to protect our favorite waves and shores,” said Brisa Hennessy, WSL Championship Tour Surfer. “Playa Hermosa is one of the best waves in Costa Rica and is located in an area rich in biodiversity that is in danger of pollution and development. This project will support conservation actions with local partners to help conserve this beautiful area.

Hermosa is a welcome addition to the growing WSR roster. “Playa Hermosa well deserves its new title,” Save the Waves wrote in a statement. “Its coastline has a variety of consistent surf breaks – with over 15 spots ranging from hard-hitting A-frame peaks, rocky breakpoints and mouth peelers – in addition to an incredibly biodiverse ecosystem that is home to more of 61 endangered species and the famous Punta Mala Wildlife Refuge.”

Once an area falls under the surf reserve umbrella, a council is put in place with the intent of creating a “stewardship plan”. This plan consists of a series of actions to protect and support the entire ecosystem around the wave. This typically includes adaptation to climate change, sustainable urban development focused on surfing, wastewater treatment and biodiversity protection.

“Playa Hermosa is a perfect example of our World Surfing Reserve program,” said Nik Strong-Cvetich, CEO of Save The Waves. “The local leadership and on-the-ground efforts of our Coalition partners to preserve their surf ecosystem is an inspiration to other communities seeking to protect their surf resources nationally and globally.”

Hermosa joins the ranks of other global surf reserves, including Malibu, California; Ericeira, Portugal; Manly Beach, Australia; Santa Cruz, California; Huanchaco, Peru; Bahia Todos Santos, Baja California, Mexico; Punta de Lobos, Chile; Gold Coast, Australia; Guarda do Embaú, Brazil; and Noosa Heads, Australia. North Devon in the UK was recently nominated and will be the next to join the scheme.

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