Surfers experience a sense of euphoria and oneness with nature when catching a wave. This feeling is often referred to as “stoke” and is the basis of the surfing culture. Being a part of a local surfing culture has proven to have positive impacts on surfers’ minds, bodies and sense of identity.
Surfers have to trust their judgement, believe in themselves, be curious, ready to fail, take a risk, adapt in the moment to what a wave is doing, be patient, and not give up.
Unlike scuba diving which is expensive, requires specialised equipment and facilities and a license, surfing is accessible. It is inexpensive, and open to all.
Surfing unites people of very diverse backgrounds pursuing a common past time in an element more powerful than them and with no borders. A wave treats everyone the same. Deep friendships develop across cultures, religions, class and age.
Surfers become deeply attached to their local surf breaks, often treating a break as a sacred site and they are very protective of the surrounding marine and coastal area. They are in tune with the ocean environment and weather patterns and often the first to notice changes in marine and coastal ecosystems.
Surf tourists embody a pioneering and adventurous spirit, often the first foreigners to visit an area and remote coastal community in search of an empty wave. They rely on locals to share knowledge and assist with getting to the coast they wish to explore. They must trust themselves and those they are relying on.
Surfing waves are a natural, cultural and economic resource. If protected and managed well by communities, waves and surfing can provide a healthy lifestyle and sustainable futures.
Surf tourism expenditure pre-COVID-19 was valued between $31.5 – $64.9 billion US dollars annually.
Surf tourists will be some of the first to visit remote coastal regions post-COVID-19 tourism recovery due to their psychographic profile and the suitability of sparsely populated, remote destinations, where nature remains largely intact.
Surfing as a sport and a lifestyle is increasing in popularity worldwide. There are an estimated 35-45 million surfers globally.
Surfers and surfing fans are more likely to over-index as healthy, active, social, environmentally responsible and progressive.
Lack of awareness globally of the role surfing and surf tourism can play within the blue economy, and of its capacity to help save our oceans and end inequity.