Cojo in Ericeira. Worth saving. Photo: Ellis

After designating Malibu's Surfrider Beach as a world surfing reserve in October of last year, the Save the Waves Coalition has announced that they will be adding two new breaks to their list of world surfing reserves in the form of Santa Cruz, California, and Ericeira in Portugal.

The Santa Cruz zone, approximately 7 miles of coast extending from Natural Bridges on the western end to Opal Cliffs just east of Pleasure Point, is steeped in surfing tradition and best known for the iconic spots at Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point, both world-renowned righthand pointbreaks.

"I can't think of a more deserving location than Santa Cruz," said Jack O'Neill. "It's got so many amazing surf spots, a wonderful surf community, and it's just a beautiful stretch of coast. The World Surfing Reserve designation will be a great way to help preserve the area."

The Ericeira area of Portugal is a surf mecca for Portuguese and international surfers alike. The approved Ericeira surf zone consists of 2.5 miles of coastline that contains a highly concentrated group of quality surf breaks, several of them world-class, including the popular Ribeira d'Ilhas and other world-renowned breaks.

"Ericeira is such a diverse surfing coastline, it has something for everyone," said WCT professional surfer Tiago Pires, who grew up surfing there. "There are big waves, small waves, expert waves, and beginner waves. I love this area, and I'm glad to see it get the recognition it deserves, as well as a tool to help better protect it."

Inspired by UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, the establishment of surfing reserves identifies breaks that have played a crucial role in shaping surfing's history. Additionally, the designation works to preserve sites from any future harm that would alter the wave and surrounding beach.

Over the past decade, Australia has marked a slew of waves as surfing reserves on the national level ranging from Maroubra to West Oz. In contrast, the appointments today by the Save the Waves foundation occur on an international level.

The process of designating a break as a surfing reserve has proven to be long and exhaustive to say the least. With hundreds of breaks from around the world nominated to receive reserve status, the Save the Waves foundation looks to surfers, scientists, and activists to help evaluate each location based on quality and consistency of surf, environmental characteristics, and culture significance.

Kelly Slater, who lent his support to the World Surfing Reserves movement last year, expressed his backing for Santa Cruz and Ericeira. "Any time we have a chance to officially preserve a beach or specific surf break, I’m all for it," he said. "World Surfing Reserves is setting the bar high and far-reaching by covering the globe with the next group of beaches to be protected. I look forward to the dedications and future protection those beaches – as well as many others – will see.""

The designation of a surfing reserve is largely ceremonial in nature, but the Save the Waves foundation and its supporters hope that the denomination will lead to further protection of the breaks.