Playa Hermosa

Costa Rica

OVERVIEW

“We have built an incredible team to foster the protection of Playa Hermosa for future generations to cherish its waves. We look forward to improving this incredible surf habitat as well as the benefits it brings to our community. For us, it is an honor to join the surf protection community and the incredible network of World Surfing Reserves.”

– Laura Zumbado, leader of the World Surfing Reserve application and Environmental Engineer

Why Playa Hermosa?

The Playa Hermosa application demonstrated that the famous surfing beach deserved the World Surfing Reserve title due to the incredible biodiversity of the area, strong community support, a clearly articulated conservation vision, as well as its world-class waves.  Playa Hermosa is the center of surfing in Costa Rica and every year hosts surfers from around the world who seek out the renowned A frame waves at the beach break.

The Local Stewardship Council has a clear vision for how they want to ensure Playa Hermosa continues to be a biodiversity hotspot and refuge while also focusing on sustainable surf tourism as a development strategy.  There is significant economic data that supports the need for protection of the surf ecosystems at Playa Hermosa as a national study found that surf tourism provides approximately $5,000,943 USD of value to the local community.  

Currently the beach and it’s community have achieved 1 star from the Blue Flag environmental Program. In addition to the current level of protection, the Local Stewardship Council is set on  achieving legal protection of the waves and a plan for sustainable low impact tourism. Building on this work, the LSC will build a sustainable coastal urban development master plan which will address the key threats and issues facing Playa Hermosa in the years to come including climate change, development, wastewater treatment, and ensuring continued public access to the waves.

Why Playa Hermosa?

The Playa Hermosa application demonstrated that the famous surfing beach deserved the World Surfing Reserve title due to the incredible biodiversity of the area, strong community support, a clearly articulated conservation vision, as well as its world-class waves.  Playa Hermosa is the center of surfing in Costa Rica and every year hosts surfers from around the world who seek out the renowned A frame waves at the beach break.

The Local Stewardship Council has a clear vision for how they want to ensure Playa Hermosa continues to be a biodiversity hotspot and refuge while also focusing on sustainable surf tourism as a development strategy.  There is significant economic data that supports the need for protection of the surf ecosystems at Playa Hermosa as a national study found that surf tourism provides approximately $5,000,943 USD of value to the local community.  

Currently the beach and it’s community have achieved 1 star from the Blue Flag environmental Program. In addition to the current level of protection, the Local Stewardship Council is set on  achieving legal protection of the waves and a plan for sustainable low impact tourism. Building on this work, the LSC will build a sustainable coastal urban development master plan which will address the key threats and issues facing Playa Hermosa in the years to come including climate change, development, wastewater treatment, and ensuring continued public access to the waves.

Attributes of a World Surfing Reserve

Playa Hermosa is considered Costa Rica’s National Surf Stadium.  The all year round beach breaks have been home to the first surf competitions in the country and are known for having punchy A frame peaks that frequently barrel.  While known for the variety of beach breaks, Playa Hermosa has 15 different spots including a rocky point break and rivermouth setup.  While Playa Hermosa shines during the south swell season in the spring, it is considered one of the most consistent waves in the country of Costa Rica.

Playa Hermosa’s first settlers came from San José and Palmares in 1974.  The first settlers came to harvest wood from the coastal forest and more families eventually came to the beach to raise livestock.  Up until this time, the waves at Playa Hermosa were a secret to the world and only a few local Costa Ricans began to discover this zone in the 1970’s.  More surfers began to arrive at Playa Hermosa with the construction of the new highway from San Jose and the 2009 ISA World Championship put Playa Hermosa on the surf map.

Locals and visitors alike describe Playa Hermosa as a surfers zone with locals and visitors scouring the beach for the best peak and a friendly relaxed atmosphere.  As Costa Rica is a popular tourist destination, Playa Hermosa has a definitive international surf scene and the community is centered around the waves and surfers that seek out the punchy beach barrels.

Playa Hermosa is a recognized biodiversity hotspot and hosts multiple critically important ecosystems including estuaries and mangrove habitat.  There are 61 threatened species in the Playa Hermosa surf ecosystem including 3 endangered species of sea turtles and the infamous Scarlet Macaw.

Playa Hermosa hosts the Punta Mala Wildlife Refuge, a national protected area that spans 2,742 hectares and 82% of this area is marine.  The refuge contains a sea turtle hatchery and conservation program. 

RESOURCES

Local Stewardship COuncil

WSR Chair: Laura Zumbado

Vice Chair: Alejandro Monge

Treasurer: Mauricio Salazar

Secretary: Daniel Uribe

Community Liason: Ariel Gutierrez

Local Business Liason: Christina Truitt

Ambassador: Carlos Munoz

ORGANIZATIONS

Municipality of Garabito

Costas Verdes

Punta Mala National Wildlife Refuge

Association of Neighbors Playa Hermosa

Stewardship plan

Our Programs and Conservation Staff is working closely with the Local Stewardship Council (LSC) at the Playa Hermosa to determine, create and manage a Stewardship Plan for the newly established World Surfing Reserve.

Photo Credit: Esteban Delgado @latierradelpuravida

PLAYA HERMOSA WSR News

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