Surf Sustainability: How to Enjoy the Waves While Protecting Costa Rica’s Environment

Surf Sustainability: How to Enjoy the Waves While Protecting Costa Rica’s Environment

Travelers to Costa Rica tend to be nature lovers and for good reason! Costa Rica holds 5 percent of the entire world’s biodiversity in its small land mass – it can fit inside the state of Texas 13 times! So, people who visit this small Central American country tend to be concerned about their environmental impact, even while on vacation. That’s why more and more travelers to Costa Rica are choosing eco-travel.

Eco-travel in Costa Rica and surf sustainability go hand in hand, as Costa Rica is renowned for its commitment to environmental conservation and its thriving surf culture. The country has become a popular destination for eco-conscious travelers and surfers who are passionate about minimizing their impact on the environment and supporting sustainable practices.

eco travel costa Rica

Costa Rica’s dedication to eco-tourism can be seen in its extensive protected areas, national parks, and wildlife reserves. Roughly 25 percent of the country’s land is designated as protected areas, showcasing its rich biodiversity and natural beauty. This commitment to conservation aligns with the principles of surf sustainability, which emphasizes the importance of preserving the ocean, waves, and coastal ecosystems that are vital to the surf experience.

Surfers are especially concerned about their impact on their favorite playground – the ocean. No one wants to see their favorite spot full of garbage or ruined in any way. Surf sustainability is the best practice you can maintain if you are planning a surf trip to Costa Rica and want to support eco-travel.

surf sustainability

Surf sustainability means surfing in a way that doesn’t harm the environment, local communities, or the surf ecosystem. It includes different principles and actions to keep the ocean, coastal areas, and surfing resources safe for current and future generations. Surf sustainability recognizes that surfing is deeply connected to the health and well-being of the natural environment and strives to promote responsible and ethical practices within the surfing community.

Key Aspects of Surf Sustainability

Sustainable Accommodations

Many eco-friendly accommodations are available throughout Costa Rica, ranging from eco-lodges to sustainable resorts. These types of establishments prioritize reducing their environmental footprint by implementing practices such as energy conservation, waste reduction, water efficiency, and the use of renewable energy sources.

surf sustainability

Being so close to the ocean (right across the street from Tamarindo Beach!), it is important to the employees and owners of Iguana Surf to do what we can to protect our environment. We strive to use biodegradable cleaning products, reduce plastic waste by offering water stations to refill our guest’s water bottles, and use paper bags over plastic when selling our gear at Iguana Surf.

Respectful Surfing Practices

Surf sustainability encourages surfers to practice responsible behavior while enjoying the waves. This includes respecting marine life, avoiding damaging coral reefs or other sensitive ecosystems, reducing waste, avoiding littering, minimizing pollution, and following proper surfing etiquette. Surfers should strive to support local surf schools and organizations that promote sustainable surfing practices. 

Learn all about Surf Etiquette HERE

We have a new reef-safe sunscreen for sale at our Iguana Surf Shop. It’s 100% natural, organic, made with local Costa Rican ingredients, non-GMO, and never tested on animals. It’s called Sea Element and our surf instructors love it! 

Beach Cleanups

Participating in or organizing beach cleanups is a common practice among surfers and eco-conscious travelers in Costa Rica. Beach cleanups help remove litter and plastic debris from beaches and coastal areas, preventing them from entering the ocean and harming marine life. Many local surf communities and environmental organizations regularly organize these cleanups, creating opportunities for surfers to contribute to the health of the coastal environment.

eco travel costa Rica

As a local surf school running since 1989, we have participated in regular beach cleanups at Tamarindo Beach for decades. Iguana Surf collaborates whenever possible with The Clean Wave, an organization focused on environmental care and beach cleaning, created right here in Tamarindo Beach. They plan beach cleaning initiatives that surfers and other responsible travelers can take part in during their visit. Check out their events HERE. 

Responsible Travel

Surfing often involves traveling to different coastal destinations, and responsible travel is an essential component of surf sustainability. This includes minimizing carbon emissions, supporting local economies, respecting local cultures and communities, and engaging in sustainable tourism practices. Surfers can choose eco-friendly accommodations, use renewable energy sources, and support local businesses that prioritize sustainability. These principles are the heart and soul of eco-travel in Costa Rica.

At Iguana Surf, we support the local economy in all we do. We choose local travel and tour guides for our clients. We also recommend local businesses and restaurants for our guests to check out. We even strive to have our campers learn a little of the local language when they choose our Costa Rica Surf & Spanish Add-on.

Supporting Conservation Efforts

Various conservation organizations in Costa Rica are dedicated to protecting the country’s natural resources and promoting sustainable practices. Surfers and eco-travelers can support these organizations through donations, volunteering, or visiting different conservation projects. These initiatives focus on coastal conservation, marine research, and advocacy for sustainable policies.

eco travel costa Rica

We promote a few tours that emphasize conservation awareness regarding oceans and waterways. Our Tamarindo Estuary Boat Tour offers a unique opportunity to observe the abundant wildlife of the tropical dry forest while learning about the unique and fragile ecosystem of the mangrove forest. If you come between October and March, you will have the opportunity to support an important sea turtle nesting beach with our Tamarindo Turtle Watching Tour at Playa Las Minas.

Respect for Local Communities

Surf sustainability involves respecting the rights, cultures, and livelihoods of local communities. Surfers should engage in responsible tourism practices, follow local regulations and customs, and strive to contribute positively to the communities they visit. Supporting local businesses, practicing cultural sensitivity, and engaging in community initiatives are important aspects of fostering positive relationships with local communities.

eco travel costa Rica

Iguana Surf offers our clients the chance to visit the famous artisan village of Guaitil. Here you can learn about the Chorotegan Indians and watch their artists create heritage pottery from their Pre-Columbian ancestors. This tour also gives you the chance to visit the vital waterway of the Tempisque River. Tourism that supports the Tempisque Conservation Area is vital to protecting the biodiversity of marine resources, wildlife, natural springs, waterfowl habitats, wetlands, and tropical dry forests.

Discover Iguana Surf’s Palo Verde Boat Tours, Wetlands, and Pottery

By embracing surf sustainability principles, surfers can enjoy their passion while actively contributing to the preservation of the natural environment, creating a positive impact on local communities, and promoting responsible eco-travel in Costa Rica. Ultimately, surf sustainability aims to ensure that the joy and beauty of surfing can be experienced in harmony with nature for years to come.

surf sustainability

Having lived and worked on the shores of Tamarindo Beach, Costa Rica for over 30 years, Iguana Surf takes surf sustainability very seriously. Ensuring our clients can continue to visit us year after year to learn how to surf and how to care for the ocean is our top priority. And by encouraging surf sustainability practices amongst ourselves and our students, we hope to be around for another 30 years!

Written by Jennifer LaCharite

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