“Surfonomics” aims to document surfing’s economic contributions to local and regional economies. Through Surfonomics research, we determine the economic value of a wave and surfing to local communities to help decision makers make better choices to protect their coastal resources and waves.


Using a beach survey of surfers in San Miguel, Ensenada, we were able to quantify that an average tourist spends approximately $111 US dollars a day. As the average surfer spends 10 days per year in the area, it is calculated that a visiting surfer spends $1,151 US dollars a year in Ensenada. 


These figures show that surfing helps drive the local economy of Ensenada and that decision-makers must take into account the importance of the surf zone in terms of coastal management.

  • Volunteers to carry out the survey instrument
  • Partnerships with academic institutions 
  • A broad coalition of stakeholders is needed to carry out a rigorous academic study like Surfonomics. Relationships and trust must be built with local hotels and rental agencies, business owners, tourism agencies, surf shops and businesses, and most importantly, the surf community itself.  All of these stakeholders must share information and participate in the study in order to get an accurate picture of the economy of surf tourism in a given area.

Key lessons include:


  • Understanding the economic contribution of surfing is key to getting stakeholders to agree on conservation initiatives.
  • Running a surfonomics study can help practitioners understand the attitudes and perspectives of visitors to the area.
  • Surfers spend a significant amount of time and money traveling and bring big economic contributions to local communities.