North Devon World Surfing Reserve is a community-led organisation that protects local surf breaks and their related ecosystems to conserve the surfing experience and make sure there are waves for all forever.
Surf spots can be protected in the same way we protect national parks like Exmoor, recognising the huge importance of world-class surfing beaches to our environment, local economy and communities that live here.
In March 2022 North Devon was formally announced as the 12th World Surfing Reserve alongside iconic surfing locations Malibu and Santa Cruz (California), Gold Coast, Noosa and Manly Beach (Australia), Bahia de Todos Santos (Mexico), Ericeira (Portugal), Punta de Lobos (Chile), Guard do Embaú (Brazil), Huanchaco (Peru) and Playa Hermosa (Costa Rica) .
Establishing a recognised Surfing Reserve gives the surfing community and others a voice in decision-making processes that affect the coastline and some of the best beaches in the United Kingdom. The World Surfing Reserve is steered by a Local Stewardship Council who share and foster good practice, while tackling broader issues that bear upon the surfing experience in North Devon. The group comprises governing bodies, NGOs, environmental groups, local community groups, surf clubs, businesses and landowners, all coming together to work towards agreed goals and shared ideals.
Direct threats to waves include factors such as new coastal developments, dredging decisions and steps being taken to tackle coastal erosion. The indirect threats to the surfing ecosystem include poor water quality and pollution from sewage, agricultural runoff, plastic and fishing debris.
The North Devon World Surfing Reserve covers a world-class surf zone stretching across approximately 30 km of coastline. Its high density of outstanding surf, at iconic breaks such as Croyde, Saunton, Woolacombe, and Lynmouth, caters to wave-riders of all tastes and styles.
The Reserve is the first of its kind in the UK, and only the second in Europe. It is also the first ever cold water World Surfing Reserve, with many of the best waves arriving on the North Devon shoreline in the winter season. It’s the organisers’ intention that the successful implementation of this model in North Devon could be replicated by other coastal areas of the UK to protect their own waves and beaches, and ultimately to achieve a Surfing Reserve status too.
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