Coasts less-surfed – unacceptable face of surf colonialism?

image of surfer from behind wave

As the waves become more crowded, surfers are looking for hidden waves to ride by themselves. Thanks to Google Earth, numerous websites and guides such as Stormrider and Footprint, this has become a lot easier than it used to be.

My favourite way of discovering less-surfed coasts is by reading The Surfer’s Path which consistently covers spots in unlikely places.  But is it all good news – what are the side effects? While the latest Surfer’s Path has some excellent coverage of North Sea and other numb spots it also has an article about a surfEXPLORE trip to the ‘wrong’ side of Indo i.e. the Pacific Ocean side in the ‘off season’. The article is up to the usual Surfers Path standard in terms of journalistic quality, not naming individual spots and exploring some non-surfing issues, but it raises some important questions about the morality of surf exploration of this time.

In particular, it showed that the surfers’ fuel ‘requirements’ were forty times the amount than the local villagers’ rations (ignoring the vast amounts of fuel needed to fly there from the US, Australia, Japan and Europe). How sustainable can this kind of surf tourism be? What message does it send to the villagers about our consumption patterns being acceptable? How much more sea level rise will it cause that will threaten the villagers’ homes far more than the visiting surfers’ homes?

A shocking aspect of the article was the attitude of surf charter operators who appeared to threaten the surfEXPLORE crew if they publicised the potential of the place in case other operators got in first. This represents the most reprehensible aspects of surf colonialism and surf capitalism.

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