Traveling is almost an inevitable part of being a surfer – the pursuit of new adventures, uncrowded waves, new frontiers, and undiscovered seas. Surf tourism is a brilliant thing for the self-indulgent surfer and hey, it can bring in billions of dollars each year to local economies, too. But it’s also no secret that surf tourism can have hectic impacts on the local people, communities and environments – turning those dollars into devils.
In response to the need for more sustainable and ethical surf tourism, there is a growing “sustainable surf tourism” movement which even goes as far to combine surf tourism with alleviating poverty, protecting coastlines, providing jobs and contributing to local community wellbeing through projects like building health clinics and schools and promoting local entrepreneurship; in effect, taking on the global-to-local project of mainstream international development and applying it to surf tourism spaces. But even then, the neocolonial approaches underpinning most “sustainable surf travel” can have unintentional impacts, only perpetuating societal and economic inequalities.