Save The Waves is working to protect surf ecosystems and promote protected areas in the Azores Autonomous Region.

The Azores Surf Protected Areas Network (SPAN) is an ongoing effort and actively supporting the work of Blue Azores Program, an initiative of the Waitt Foundation, Oceano Azul and the Regional Government of the Azores.


The Azores Autonomous region (PT: Região Autónoma dos Açores) is an archipelago of nine islands lying on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

The Azores archipelago consists of nine volcanic islands located in the North Atlantic Ocean approximately 1300km west of Portugal. Individual islands in the archipelago are spread across 650km and are commonly broken out into the following groups:

  • Western group: Corvo and Flores

  • Central group: Faial, Graciosa, Pico, São Jorge, and Terceira

  • Eastern group: Santa Maria and São Miguel

Its location makes it ideal for swells from both the southern and northern hemispheres. There is a significant surf culture and history, cultivated throughout many generations of locals.

In addition to supporting the Blue Azores Program, Save The Waves is working to supply information for the ongoing efforts of the Azores Surfing and Bodyboarding Association, the Azores chapter of Surfrider Foundation Europe, Terceira Surfing Association and other organizations working on coastal conservation locally.



Surfing in the Azores brings me back to the foundations of what is so magnetic about the sport. Unique and biodiverse surf ecosystems that harbor so much life and power and showcase the raw beauty of nature.

João de Macedo


preserving the surf ecosystem


The Azores is one of the five Macaronesian archipelagos and sits within the Mediterranean biodiversity hotspot. The Azores are a refuge for both marine and terrestrial species - approximately 420 terrestrial endemic species of lichen, plants and animals have been identified - and are considered fundamentally important for biodiversity conservation.


The Azorean economy is largely dependent on its nature-based sustainable tourism with a well-founded and thriving fishing culture. In total, over 1,700 people were employed in the fishing industry and different artisanal fishing practices adopted by local communities in coastal areas.


Our objective is to harness the power of the sport of surfing and surf communities to create additional marine protected areas in line with the IUCN 30 x 30 goals in the Azores and incorporate surfing into current protected area management plans.


Surf conservation index

A report produced by Save The Waves. 

The objective of the Surf Conservation Index is to prioritize individual site locations within the archipelago of the Azores Autonomous Region based on surf quality, human pressure and response, and key social and ecological indicators.

The goal:

  1. Identify activities that affect surf breaks and their surrounding environments. 
  2. Facilitate Coalition-building between different groups of stakeholders

SPANs: Latest News

Protecting Waves in the Azores: Where Are We Now?

From hosting youth engagement workshops at schools to attending high-level interregional governmental meetings and international conferences, our team has seriously been making waves in the Azores.

additional resources


The Regional Profile of the Azorean Archipelago is the first part of a six-step process which aims to protect critical surf ecosystems throughout the island chain.

It gives a detailed description of the surf resources in the islands, provides critical information on biodiversity and the unique geography that creates surf ecosystems in the Azores, provides important information on the socio-economic aspects of surfing, and assesses the opportunities for conservation of surf spots within the context of ongoing Marine Spatial Planning processes. Click to download.

Azores Film Festival Brochure

In September 2021, our staff brought the Save The Waves Film Festival to the Azores. The festival included a wide selection of surf films and also included participation activities for local communities. These activities include Ocean Literacy sessions with schools and workshops on the preservation of surf ecosystems and conservation of marine environments. Click to download.

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(Surf Protected Area Networks)

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