The Fastest Growing Surf Breaks In The World
Feeling crowded? Blame the economy.
Surfers in West Oz, you can thank greedy government officials for the crowds. From 1992 through 2013, Western Australia was home to nine of the ten fastest growing surf breaks in Australia. The once quiet outback has turned into a marketing opportunity with very real economic benefits…especially for those with a vested interest in tourism dollars.
A recently published study looked at 5,000 surf breaks in 146 countries around the world and discovered that high-quality surf can boost local economic growth by 2.2 percentage points a year. The study, co-authored by Sam Wills, an economist and lecturer at the University of Sydney, reveals the link between good surf and a booming economy. That may “justify” why North Point perfection was beamed into every surf fans computer last week.
“We conducted four sets of experiments, and they all confirm that good waves significantly increase growth, particularly after recent discoveries and during El Niño years,” said Wills.
The study shows that when surfers land in obscure, wave-rich locations, the masses aren’t far behind. “Surfers are the trendsetters, then the other tourists follow,” says Tarik Senhaji, director-general of the Moroccan Sovereign Wealth Fund, who’s cited in Wills’ study.
Wills was on a surf trip to Taghazout in Morocco when he had his ah-ha moment. Just trying to escape the congestion of Sydney, he figured North Africa was remote enough to fall off the grid for a few weeks. When he finally touched down the reality of landing in the epicentre of Moroccan surfing hit him like a tonne of camel.
When he returned to the University of Sydney, Wills endeavoured to research the economics of surf discovery. Initially, he used satellite images of nighttime light emissions from areas near surf breaks as a proxy for economic growth. He then dug deeper, analysing a myriad of data from 1992 to 2013. What he found was that, besides the West Oz surf boom, Costa Rica, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam and New Zealand ranked among the five fastest-growing surf countries. Costa Rica was the clear winner (or loser depending on your perspective), with Playa Langosta, Playa Guiones and Nosara all in the top 10 fastest growing surf breaks in the world. West Oz also had three breaks in the top ten with Yallingup, Isolators and Rabbits finishing eighth, ninth and tenth, respectfully.
There are an estimated 35 million surfers in the world and counting. Wills cites Taghazout, Byron Bay, Jeffreys Bay and Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka as prime examples of the effect surfing has on local economies over time. All of them started as small, quiet surf towns and are now full-blown tourist hubs.
The flip side is that when waves die so do economies. Wills notes that places like Jardim do Mar off the coast of Portugal and Mundaka, Spain, have seen their economies contract as their waves have been degraded by development in recent years.
Wills also found that the impact of surf breaks in developing countries is greater than in more stable countries. Skeleton Bay in Namibia as an ideal example. The wave was first discovered in 2008 and has since captured the hearts and minds of tube-hungry surfers.
“Since the break was found the surfing world – amateur and professional alike – has descended into the desert to ride the relentlessly grinding waves,” said Wills.
The moral of the story? Not posting your favourite secret spot on Instagram might be a good place to start.
Top 10 Fastest Growing Surf Breaks from 1992-2013:
10. Express Point, VIC
9. Smiths Beach, WA
8. Smiths Reef, WA
7. Mouse Traps, WA
6. Supertubes, WA
5. Yallingup, WA
4. Palestines, WA
3. Rabbits, WA
2. Isolators, WA
1. Yallingup (shorebreak), WA
10. Rabbits, Australia (WA)
9. Isolators, Australia (WA)
8. Yallingup, Australia (WA)
7. Playa Guiones, Costa Rica
6. Playa Langosta, Costa Rica
5. Omaha, New Zealand
4. Dark Reef, Vietnam
3. Shabandar, Malaysia
2. Yacila, Peru
1. Nosara, Costa Rica
E.A.S.T. Musician Hobo Dave’s Inspiring Journey Through Brain Injuries, Mental Illness, And Surfing
His film ‘Suburban Wilderness’ is a feel-good, core lord hit.
Episode 2: Vans Stab High, Central America, Presented By Monster Energy
Bring an ice pack, the space cadets have been wounded.
Does Anyone Else Notice This Ladybird’s Resemblance To Dane Reynolds?
Caity Simmers surfs with a familiar tenacity.
How Did A Billabong Logo End Up On Italo Ferreira’s Olympics-Winning Surfboard?
Clever marketing team finds legal loophole.
Son Of Metallica Bassist Scores 11 Year Old’s Straight Air Waco Edit
Ryji Masuda rocks and rolls in Waco.
Ben Howard Knifes South Coast Nuggets In ‘153624’
Ben Howard chooses the double black diamond approach to tube riding.
What Did We Learn From The Olympics?
The biggest takeaways from a writer who watched every single heat.
Covert Jr. Editor Virtually Slips Through The Heavily Guarded Gates Of Olympic Surfing
Better watch now, this won't stay up for very long.
Neal Purchase Jnr Shapes The Feeling He’s Searching For
Great artists hide themselves in their work.
You Could Fit Your Neighbor’s Sprinter Van Inside Of These Puerto Escondido Tunnels
Mexican Pipeline continues to churn out the goods.
Where Are We At With Sustainable Surfboards?
Hello, elephant in the room! Let's hear from some industry innovators.
Italo Ferreira and Carissa Moore Are Surfing’s First-Ever Olympic Gold Medalists
Here's how they won.
Everything You Never Knew About Italo Ferreira
A window into the gold medalist's meteoric rise.
John Florence Listed As Questionable For The Remainder Of The CT Season
“I’ll most likely make the decision in the next two days or so.”
The Flamboyantly-Dressed Man Who Got Surfing Into The Olympics Details His Experience
ISA President Fernando Aguerre opens up to Stab the day before the gold medal match.
Steph Falls Off Her Horse, Andino Triumphs Over John, Gabs Potentially Spells End To Jules’ Career Outside Contest Area
Big-ish waves, sharp surfing and no shortage of drama on day 2 of the Olympic…