Save the Waves, a non-profit with one of the best mission statements you could possibly want—”To protect and preserve the coastal environment with a focus on the surf zone”—has just announced they’ve declared that Punta Borinquen, Puerto Rico, is the 11th World Surf Reserve.
What does that mean? Well, it means the Puerto Rican government has agreed that the surf zone at Punta Borinquen, an eight-kilometer stretch of beach on the island’s northwest coast just north of Aguadilla, has tremendous economic, recreational, and natural value, and has partnered with Save the Waves and Olita, a Puerto Rican non-profit that helps families out of poverty, to protect that bit of beach forever.
It means that a group of people in Puerto Rico and California have worked very hard to be sure a beautiful, surf-rich coastline is protected from development, pollution and destruction. In our cynical times, this is something to be celebrated, indeed.
Here’s a video about how the process for selection works:
Punta Borinquen is the first Caribbean surf zone to be dedicated as a World Surf Reserve.
“Puerto Rico and the area around Aguadilla is one of the gems of the Caribbean,” said Nik Strong-Cvetich of Save the Waves in an email. “That combined with the community's vision and the resolve they've shown in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria make for a successful WSR site."
The zone is full of some of Puerto Rico’s best surf. Gas Chambers, the island’s fickle but spectacular right-hand barrel breaks there. That wave alone is probably worth the WSR designation. As is Wilderness, an open ocean right that gets as big and as hollow as most waves on Oahu’s North Shore. Not for the faint of heart, but a world-class wave.
Puerto Rico’s Otto Flores, a Patagonia rider and standout in some of the island’s heaviest waves like Chatarra (on the other side of the island) will be the official ambassador of the WSR, a talented foot forward to the rest of the world.
The Punta Borinquen area is loaded with historical significance as well as pockets of undeveloped coastal land and forests. In recent years, fears of hotel encroachment from nearby urbanized areas have motivated locals to resist development and turn to groups like Olita for assistance.
The WSR will be formally designated with a ceremony in the spring. In the meantime, let’s raise a glass to those who work to protect the most valuable stretches of beaches for surfers, those out there doing the good work for all us sinners.