Spotlight on SUSPIRO: Sustainable Surf Tourism Solutions for Coastal Communities

SUSPIRO: Sustainable Surf Tourism Solutions for Coastal Communities offers an innovative approach to community-led alternatives to development in surf tourism destinations.


It’s no secret that coastal communities in the world’s top surfing destinations are heavily impacted by the social and environmental challenges presented by tourism overdevelopment in the places we love to surf. And it’s no coincidence that popular surf towns end up developing in similar ways, catering to the modern amenity demands of visiting foreign tourists with the construction of concrete hotel buildings, trendy restaurants, massive resorts and a messy party scene – denigrating natural resources, polluting the planet, contributing to social inequality and marginalizing local people and their cultures in the process.


Have you ever stopped to consider what a place like Bali’s Uluwatu must have looked like 25 years ago? Or what it might look like today if tourism were to have been managed differently from the start? What about the way the surfing tourism experience in southern Nicaragua so closely resembles the oppressive colonial history of Central America’s feudal-style hacienda system infamous from centuries past?

What happens to locals around the world who want to access the waves they grew up surfing that are now enclosed in foreign-owned beachfront development projects privatizing waves and coastal access from ‘outsider’ entry?


aerial shot of beach and forest


What if surf tourism didn’t have to be synonymous with speculative real estate markets, foreign land grabs, local exclusion, modern amenity development, privatization and neocolonialism? Beyond the misnomer that overdevelopment in surf towns is “inevitable” and “just a matter of time”, lives the vision in action of SUSPIRO: Sustainable Surf Tourism Solutions for Coastal Communities, now launching its pilot project on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. 


In response to the social and environmental harm caused by the overdevelopment of popular surf towns around the world, SUSPIRO’s sustainable surf tourism model offers an innovative approach to community-led alternatives in surfing destinations. Born of the belief that surf tourism can and must be done differently, SUSPIRO’s pilot program in Playa Hermosa (Santa Teresa), Costa Rica will test its signature community-led process designed to strengthen the local community economy and support the creation of local sustainability initiatives.

Believing in the power of local communities to determine and manage the future of their towns’ tourism trajectories, and drawing from lessons learned through its pilot program, SUSPIRO will be scaled as a non-profit consulting firm to support sustainable surf tourism community initiatives across Central/South America and Indonesia/Southeast Asia.


Dr. Krista Comer, author of Surfer Girls in the New World Order and Co-Founder of the Institute for Women Surfers, recently endorsed the launch of SUSPIRO, commenting that it is “a great model of activist economic development, wish there were more like it both in the world of surfing but in any world. I am a supporter, and those who believe in economic justice models of sustainability for the world of surfing and beyond that world will be fans!”


Financing for SUSPIRO’s pilot program will be 100% crowdfunded through the project’s GoFundMe campaign. The global surfing community is invited to support SUSPIRO’s sustainable surf tourism vision in action by making a financial contribution today. 


SUSPIRO is the flagship project of Tarantula Surf, a platform for authentic story-sharing and engaging with new social paradigms for a more beautiful world.

For more information about SUSPIRO: Sustainable Surf Tourism Solutions, please contact Tara Ruttenberg by email at

Tarantula Surf

We love hearing the stories of many women. This article was contributed and not written by a regular Still Stoked author. If you would like to contribute one of your own stories, please get in touch.


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