Since Bahía de Todos Santos was declared a World Surfing Reserve in 2014, there has been a noticeable increase of interest in protecting surf ecosystems in México. As the surfing community and the general public acknowledge the need to preserve surf ecosystems, it’s crucial to create a central database of surf breaks of national importance to provide each region and the local surf community with adequate tools to create Surf Protected Areas. 

In 2020, Save The Waves and the Autonomous University of Baja California developed a Surf Conservation Index to identify ecologically significant areas with high-quality surfing waves. This study will support Save The Waves’ project to develop SPANs in Mexico and provides invaluable data to support the assessment and preservation of surf breaks and coastal ecosystems. Currently, Save The Waves is working in Baja California and Oaxaca. 

This is only the beginning. Save The Waves is continuing to develop and introduce surf conservation in areas all across Mexico. Our Surf Protected Area Network program hopes to replicate San Miguel’s victory with other communities who seek to protect their home breaks.

Mara Arroyo

Conservation Program Manager, Save The Waves


The objective is to harness the power of surfing and the surf community for conservation efforts. Through SPANs, we hope to expand the scope of existing protected areas to include surf ecosystems and create new surfing protected areas in key regions. 

Location Sites: San Miguel and Punta Conejo

San Miguel, Baja

The designation of Bahía de Todos Santos represented the first step towards wave protection in the region and the possibility of creating an adaptable model for other surf zones in the country. In a historic moment for environmental and surf conservation, the first state park in Baja California, Mexico was officially approved, providing long-lasting protection to San Miguel watershed, a critical riparian ecosystem that contributes necessary sand and cobblestones to form the classic wave. The local initiative spearheaded by Pronatura Noroeste AC, and joined by Save The Waves Coalition has been in the works for years. As a next step, we are actively participating in the process to develop the management plan. To learn more about San Miguel State Park, please go to arroyosanmiguel.org.

Punta Conejo, Oaxaca

Punta Conejo is an internationally recognized surf break located in the municipality of Salina Cruz in Oaxaca on the Pacific Coast of Southeast Mexico. Salina Cruz is part of a region with a great diversity of flora, fauna and coastal ecosystems, making this entire area an attractive destination for ecotourism and adventure tourism. Punta Conejo, together with the Salinas del Marques lagoon, Playa Brasil, and Playa Azul, is a unique ecosystem with endemic and endangered species, including the leatherback and olive ridley sea turtles. Wetlands like the lagoon of Salinas del Marqués also protect and improve water quality, mitigate the impacts of climate change, provide ecosystem services to the local community, and have a great socio-economic value for the local population. Save The Waves is working with Wildcoast and the local community of Playa Brasil to designate this area as a Protected Area. Our work will result in a Protected Area that will preserve biodiversity, five surf breaks, 1,100 hectares of wetlands, and the traditional livelihoods of four communities. To learn more, visit savethewaves.org/puntaconejo


Surf Conservation Index

A report produced by Save The Waves with support from Patagonia.

How will this report help protect surf ecosystems? It will:

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


Azores Regional Profile

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.


Visiones de éxito en Chile: los esfuerzos colaborativos apuntan a un futuro para una mayor protección de las olas en todo el país

El pasado mes de Septiembre, miembros del staff de Save The Waves visitaron la Reserva Mundial de Surf Punta de Lobos en Pichilemu, y el Santuario Marino Costero Piedra del Viento en Topocalma y Puertecillo, dos proyectos que han sido el parteaguas para la conservación de ecosistemas de surf en Chile, y que han sentado un precedente importante para otras regiones del mundo.

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.

Continue To Explore SPANs

(Surf Protected Area Networks)

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