We are adventurers. We are explorers. We are on a mission to find the extraordinary places that haven’t been touched by the hand of man. We are always seeking the untrodden path, laying down the preliminary footprints in a place we find magical. We pay homage to the local, the sustainable, the fresh.
However, not everyone is on the same page.
Tourism is a double-edged sword. We all know this. It is apparent in the eyes of the local rice farmer who is edged out by a coffee shop. It is noticeable on the strained smile of the owner of the local fruit stand. It is etched on the faces of children who watched their parents uproot their farms and sell their livelihood away to the foreigner.
Localism and tourism go hand in hand for good reason.
As a surfer, the connection to the ocean is omnipresent. Our tie to mother nature keeps us seeking. It is what fuels the passion to keep coming back to the water, board in hand, regardless of the outcome.
Is surf tourism killing the spots we love?
Do we write this off as fate?
Do we put it all up to chance?
We are at a turning point in travel and surf culture.
It is in our hands to make sure we don’t kill what we seek.
If you have traveled to popular surf destinations like Costa Rica, Nicaragua or Indonesia, you know what I am talking about. If you LIVE in these places you know what I am talking about.
Natural resources give way to money-makers. High rises replace high reaching palms. Cliffsides are carved out for cafes, surf shops, restaurants. The exponential growth of the surf industry, mainstream coverage of surf culture, and the Internet’s exploitation of once secret spots has catapulted us into unknown territory. New surf frontiers are being discovered yearly. What happens when there’s nothing left to discover?
When we are the ones doing the traveling, are we selfish? Are we ignoring the damage done and simply enjoying? Can we actively participating in preserving the places we visit, to insure its longevity?
How should we travel?
How do we move through new landscapes without destroying them in the process?
How do we not disrupt what is already there?
I do not have the answers. I doubt I ever will have ones complete enough. I only wonder what the future holds for travelers, as the world becomes a smaller place. Travel affects us all, not simply the ones jet-setting to new destinations. On a global and local scale, whether you are the one traveling or not, we all need to maintain a sensitivity for our environment and ecosystems. They are, after all, what we aim to enjoy.