The Process

The pathway to becoming a World Surfing Reserve.

World Surfing Reserves is a partnership between Save The Waves and local communities.

Here you will find information on how to apply, criteria and evaluation, and how sites are implemented once approved. STW will work in partnership with local communities throughout the world during each one of these steps and is committed to a streamlined, straightforward and transparent process.

Application Overview

Applying to become a World Surfing Reserve may be straightforward but it requires significant work from local communities desiring their wave or surf zone to be designated and implemented as a WSR site.


Letter of Inquired Submitted


Letter of Inquired Reviewed


Applicant invited to submit full proposal 


Vote on Application


Site Approved or Not Approved

To qualify as a WSR, sites normally possess the following as minimum criteria:


A globally significant surf spot or outstanding series of surf breaks


Unique environmental characteristics with clear avenues to protect them


A rich surf culture and history


Strong community support and capacity

Sites are evaluated on a combination of the above criteria, so in certain instances areas that score very high in one category and lower in another might still qualify and be accepted. Conversely, sites that score extremely low on one of the criteria might not be accepted despite ranking high on others. Additionally applications for sites that don’t provide sufficient documentation or evidence regarding the various criteria might be delayed or asked to resubmit an application at a future time.

Application Process In Detail

Step 1. Submit a letter of inquiry

If you are interested in your break or area being designated and implemented as a World Surfing Reserve, you must a submit a letter of inquiry that is no longer than two pages. In this letter, please include the surf break or surf zone for consideration, as well as brief, summary of the quality and consistency of the wave or surf zone; unique environmental characteristics; surf culture; and community support for the designation of a WSR site.


Regular mail:

Save The Waves Coalition
Attn: World Surfing Reserves
849 Almar Ave
Suite C #163
Santa Cruz, CA 95060 USA

If sending via email and you do not immediately hear back, please be sure and call us (+1-831-426-6169) to confirm that we’ve received the email.

Step 2. Response to letter of inquiry

Once received, we will confirm receipt immediately, the letter will then be evaluated by WSR, and either a request for an application or a denial notification will be sent within three weeks of receiving the letter of inquiry.

Step 3. Submit a WSR Application

If the proposal meets the minimum World Surfing Reserves criteria, we will ask for a full application. Simply download our PDF Application, then complete and send the finalized packet to

In the application, you’ll need to highlight how the location meets WSR criteria.

WSR eligible waves and surf zones are evaluated and chosen based on the written criteria below.

Save The Waves staff will briefly review the application for completeness, and we will send a response regarding the application’s completeness within two weeks. If the application is complete, it will then be evaluated for potential eligibility as a World Surfing Reserve. If the application is not complete, Save The Waves will return the submission to the applicant and request further information.

1) Quality and Consistency of the wave(s)

2) Environmental Characteristics

3) Culture and surf history

4) Governance capacity and local support

Step 4. Vote on WSR Application

The WSR Vision Council will vote on received applications deemed complete based on the criteria above. Voting currently occurs once a year every October. The WSR Vision Council will select one applicant site from the pool in a competitive process, announcing the approved site in late October.

Step 5. Response to WSR Application

Notification of acceptance or denial of the application will be sent via email or through postal mail if necessary. At the present time, only one site is to be selected per year. Applications for locations that are not selected are eligible to be considered in subsequent years.

If you have any additional questions, please email us at or use the contact form below for an easy submission.

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