Do your part in helping our local beaches & oceans in Costa Rica
“I think when a surfer becomes a surfer, it’s almost like an obligation to be an environmentalist at the same time.” – Kelly Slater, one of the biggest world champions in surfing
This is definitely true. The ocean is amazing and once you build a personal relationship with it through surfing, its protection becomes more and more important. We are lucky that here in Costa Rica, there is plenty of coastline and many gorgeous beaches to enjoy. Not to mention all of the jungles and volcanoes! While Costa Rica is a global leader as far as environmental conservation goes, there is always more that can be done at an individual level. We all want to be able to surf for years to come, but we won’t be able to if the ocean just becomes full of trash and the water is contaminated with chemicals and waste. So, what can we do to help? Keep reading for a couple of tips.
Use Organic and Eco-Friendly Sunscreen
If you are going into the ocean, anything that is on you will also go into the water. So if you go out surfing covered in sunscreen filled with chemicals, those chemicals will then be in the water causing issues for fish and other wildlife. Luckily, there is an easy solution to this! There are plenty of sunscreens these days that are totally safe for the oceans. Yes, they usually cost a little more. But think of it as a small investment in the future and totally worth it!
Pick up Trash
There aren’t always trash cans on the beach, so, unfortunately, sometimes it gets left behind. Not only is it unpleasant to look at when you are planning to spend the afternoon sun tanning, but it can also be harmful to animals. It is fairly obvious that big piles of trash aren’t great, but smaller things like cigarette butts are often overlooked. But in fact, they are the number one man-made contaminant in the ocean. They have some nasty chemicals in their filters that pose a threat to aquatic environments. So if you are taking a walk down the beach, consider bringing a bag with you in case you come across any trash you could pick up and put in its proper place.
Participate in Beach Cleanups
There are also plenty of organized beach cleanups that regularly happen around Tamarindo that you could join! The Clean Wave, Surfrider, and surf schools in Tamarindo all often have beach cleanup events that are open to everyone. They regularly have events around Tamarindo and you will be making a positive difference while also meeting some new friends, tourists and locals alike. Or if you really would like to take initiative, you could always start your own beach cleanup. There are plenty of people who would likely love to help! Just grab your friends and make it happen.
Bike or Walk to Your Local Break
Luckily in Tamarindo, this is easy because the best break is right on the main beach in town! And walking is ideal because you won’t have to worry about finding a parking spot or leaving your valuables in your car. All you need is yourself and your board and you are all set! By walking or biking, you will get a little warm-up for your surf session in, you will save money by not using gas or a car, and you will be lessening your CO2 footprint. A win all around!
Look into Eco-Friendly Equipment
The most environmentally friendly boards are those made out of wood or cork. However, there is a reason why most pros opt for a fiberglass board… at this point, there is just nothing else that can really beat the weight and performance they offer. The good news is that alternative options are getting better and better every day. While traveling to somewhere like Costa Rica, it’s hard to be picky about the kind of board you are going to use if you are not bringing your own. But there is also a plus side to this! If you decide to rent boards from Iguana Surf or take some surf lessons in Tamarindo, you will be using boards that have already been in use rather than being the reason that new boards need to be made, which results in pollution and chemicals that are not so good for mother earth. Reusing existing items is one of the best ways to help this! So don’t be afraid of a surfboard rental. There are plenty of great ones to choose from!
Wetsuits are another consideration… most are made from neoprene, which is either made from a petroleum or limestone derivative, meaning that your wetsuit is the product of mining or drilling. So, consider taking your purchasing power elsewhere. There are many companies that are making greener wetsuits like Patagonia, Vissla, Picture Organic, and more. These all offer alternatives to neoprene such as natural rubber or “naturalprene.”
VOLUNTEER WITH LOCAL COSTA RICA ORGANIZATIONS
Volunteer on your surf trip to help keep the country clean and healthy! There are a ton of amazing organizations in Tamarindo and the surrounding area of Guanacaste that are always looking for help, whether it be for a few hours or a few weeks! Check out the blog below for a full list of some awesome places that you could help out at.
Whenever you buy anything, it is very important to think about where it is coming from. That cute shirt? It might have traveled thousands of miles on a plane or cargo ship to get to you. Your new surfboard? Is it from the surf shop down the street or some brand located in a different country? That avocado? Unless you live somewhere that is sunny year-round, it likely traveled pretty far to get to you. All of this transport results in tons of CO2 emissions and pollution that could be avoided if you decide to make local purchases so that your things don’t have to travel further than just down the street!
The awesome thing is that in Tamarindo, buying local is super easy. Everything you might need from clothes to surf gear, to produce can be purchased by local stores and companies that sell products made in Costa Rica! Morena is one of many amazing swim brands that sell suits made in CR, and Che Boards is one of many local surfboard shapers. But the best thing to buy local is the food because there are so many delicious, exotic options that don’t have to travel at all to get to you! Mango, avocado, passionfruit, pineapple, platanos, meat, cheese, coffee, chocolate, and so much more all grown in Costa Rica can be bought in most supermarkets around the country. And to get even fresher, head to the Tamarindo Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings where local vendors sell farm fresh goods and handmade trinkets. It doesn’t get any better!
It turns out that there are a lot of small things that you can do to ensure that you are being an eco-friendly surfer. Although it may just seem like small steps, when many individuals are making small changes, they result in big changes collectively. And there is no time like the present to get started! The harder we all try to do our best to conserve the environment, the longer we will all be able to enjoy our oceans for years to come.