Morotai ISLAND

The first Surf Protected Area will preserve the rich biodiversity and pristine surf ecosystems of Morotai Island, located in Indonesia’s North Maluku Province.

With threats of habitat destruction, overfishing and rapid tourism development, we have launched our SPAN pilot project in Morotai with a goal to protect 50,000 hectares (120,000 acres) of coral reef and surfing areas in partnership with Conservation International and A Liquid Future. This protected area will also help establish sustainable practices around surf-related tourism and the local economy that depends on it.  


The project will work with local communities and the Government in Morotai, North Maluku Province to develop Indonesia’s first Surf Protected Area. Morotai has extremely healthy coral reefs, a wealth of surf breaks, and growing surf tourism. This area is also very important for SCUBA diving, snorkeling, free diving, spear fishing, and other forms of marine recreation.

In January 2016, Morotai was selected by the Indonesian President for fast-track tourism development including a new international airport, paved roads traversing the island, and new resorts. Understanding that tourism can either benefit them or negatively impact them, community members and the Government are enthusiastic about developing sustainable surf tourism and protecting their local environment. 

The Morotai Surf Protected Area will cover over 50,000 hectares (120,000 acres) of coral reef and surfing area. It will be enshrined in Indonesian law to help protect from unsustainable development and activities that impact marine ecosystems like illegal fishing. The project will also develop surf related community livelihood programs and work to establish a conservation finance system whereby tourists pay a small fee to sustain the protected area. 


Establish A Protected Area.

Over 50,000 hectares (120,000 acres) of coral reef, 50 kilometers (30 miles) of coastline, and over 30 waves and high quality SCUBA diving spots protected in Morotai. 

Encourage Sustainability.

Sustainable surf tourism, other marine tourism including diving, snorkeling, sustainable fishing, and community livelihoods incorporated into a Morotai marine management plan. 

Create A National Framework.

National policy created to provide a framework for local governments and communities to establish Surf Protected Areas throughout Indonesia.

Ahead of the Curve: Sustainability and Community Development

Across Indonesia, surfing is critical to local economies and has vast potential to support conservation — in the Uluwatu surf area in Bali, for example, the surf break contributes US$ 35.3 million annually. But Bali and other popular surf locations are also plagued by plastic pollution, sewage and overfishing.

We are creating a Surf Protected Area network across the country to address these issues. By protecting marine and terrestrial resources, local communities stand to prosper economically, environmentally and culturally into the future. 


Morotai surfing association

Morotai Surfing Association’s principles are to support the development of surfing amongst youth, raise awareness around marine conservation, minimize the gender gap and foster and provide skills with the aim of advancing tourism.

There are currently seventeen surf clubs across Morotai.

Follow them on Instagram! @surfingmorotai

Field Notes: Advancing Surf Conservation in Indonesia

Save The Waves recently traveled to Morotai in Indonesia to meet with our local and global partners, including Conservation International, to help establish long-term coastal protection for the area.

Surf Protected Area Network Manager, Mara Arroyo, recounts the trip and the progress made.



Summary PDF outlining the larger SPANs program as well as the “Surf Conservation Partnership” between Save The Waves and Conservation Interational.

Morotai community outreach and objectives

Download our two-page outreach material outlining community objectives, programs and project purpose. Available in English and Indonesian.

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