Surfing Experience

Surfing Experience

Surfing Experience and Lifestyle

Surfing is not just a sport, but also a way of life, with a wordless philosophy communicated effortlessly through photographs that inspire many people who have never even touched a surfboard.

Surfers live with the ocean, rising and falling with its waves. Their naturally photogenic lives are enriched not only by the healthy exercise of life at the beach, but also by the intercultural experiences that come with traveling around the world to find the best breaks.

In my early twenties, while working as an assistant chef, I began to look for ways to bring the surfing lifestyle into my work. Surfing was my favorite activity; that was what I did before and after work, and on my days off.

What is Surfing Experience and Lifestyle? – Fun, health, learning, lifesaving, research, teaching, travel and more! Click to learn more...

So I asked myself: Could I find work at the beach, or in the surf, and get paid for being in my chosen element?

Sadly, I was not good enough at surfing to be a professional surfer, but I had developed a personal philosophy of doing what I love, and loving what I do – and surfing was clearly what I loved to do.

I asked around at the five-star hotel where I’d been working, and sure enough, I was able to transfer to a new position at the same hotel, working with the beach and pool department as a lifeguard. From that day forward, my life changed.

I was getting paid to train as a lifeguard and swim on the beach every day, and encouraged to have fun surfing on my breaks.

Do what you love, and love what you do. Great advice!

Experiencing the surfing lifestyle at the Kahalu'u beach house in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | Click to Surfer's Journal page...

Lifeguarding and Water Safety

After working on the beach and making ocean rescues for about three years, I applied for a full-time job as a Hawaii County Lifeguard. In 1992, I was offered an opportunity to attend lifeguard training at Huntington Beach, California, and soon become a certified California State Lifeguard, stationed at San Clemente, Orange Coast District.

Once I started college in 1994 and learned that I could study abroad in wave-rich countries like South Africa, Spain, and Taiwan, the idea of combining work, study and other life pursuits with surfing opened up a world of possibilities.

In 1998, after good day of surfing in Tel-Aviv, Israel, I made the decision to return home to Hawaii and start a surfing school. Based on my experience in lifeguarding, I named the school "Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors" (HLSI), and set up shop at a beach house near Kahaluu Beach Park in Kailua-Kona (see photos below).

Water Safety and Lifeguarding in Hawaii | Click to learn more...

Kahalu'u Beach Park in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | Click to Water Safety page...

Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors | Surf Lessons Hawaii

Over the next 5 years, I earned a living teaching others how to surf, and met a variety of interesting people, including international celebrities, movie stars and astronauts from NASA.

The surf school was an instant success. Everyone wanted a piece of the action. Before long every major hotel in the area was calling me to book lessons for their guests, and I had contacts up and down the coast. My friends and I had people of all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and abilities.

Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors (HLSI) beach house at Kahaluu Beach Park in Kailua-Kona, Big Island of Hawaii

Most kids wanted to surf when they came to Hawaii, and most parents didn’t really know much about surfing and were terribly worried at the idea of it. So HLSI was there to provide a short, safe, surfing experience, and everyone got what they wanted.

Before long the school started to attract celebrities. Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston were at the house, Steven Seagal's kids with his ex-wife, actress Kelly LeBrock, Jeff Bridges with his three daughters. We treated the stars like family, barbecuing on the beach or taking them to local restaurants to eat after the day’s surfing. They loved it, and so did we.

The Space Ambassadors | Surfing with NASA Astronauts  

Surf Lessons Hawaii | Commander Scott Horowitz (lower right) and Mission Specialist Pat Forrester (lower center) and the STS-105 Crew

One morning after a volunteer project at Kahaluu Beach Park in Kona, Hawaii, I met Scott Horowitz, four-time commander of the Space Shuttle.

Scott had just a few minutes to learn to surf, and so I geared him up, and we hit the water. Scott was a surf instructor's dream, naturally enough. As an astronaut, he had been selected for both physical strength and learning ability – so he was very close to the perfect student.

With Astronaut Scott Horowitz | Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

After his first wave, Scott exclaimed, "Surfing is out of this world!"

One thing led to another and over the next year I found myself imagining the entire shuttle crew to coming to the Big Island of Hawaii to surf and appear at local schools.

The next year Scott and fellow astronaut Pat Forrester came to Hawaii, officially representing the NASA Space Program, and appearing at schools across the island and catching a few waves.

I wrote a short article named, "The Space Ambassadors" to share the experience in the Kona Views Magazine.

NASA Astronaut Appearance Video | Shown to Big Island students during the Hawaii tour

Astronaut Scott Horowitz | Big Island of Hawaii students

Scott Horowitz | Big Island students in Kailua-Kona

Mission Specialist Pat Forrester | Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA)

Astronaut Scott Horowitz | Learning to surf in Kailua-Kona

Surf Resource Sustainability and Conservation

When it was time to start Graduate school and do my PhD, once again I found that surfing was my ticket to combining work, education and lifestyle. I wrote my MBA thesis on surf tourism in Thailand.

The more I traveled, surfed, and learned about the environmental issues at surf sites and other coastal areas, the more I was moved to study the social, economic and environmental significance of surfing.

After my MBA, I chose to do a Ph.D. in Environmental Management, dedicating three years of my life to researching surf site sustainability and developing the Surf Resource Sustainability Index (SRSI).

Currently, I am still surfing and sharing the surfing stoke with my students in Environmental Studies at Prince of Songkla University, Phuket, Thailand.

Surf Tourism Research | Click to learn more...

The surfer-researcher lifestyle was featured in Japan's Nalu Magazine | 2008 article by Riku Emoto | Click to view...

International Journal Papers and Chapters

Visit my Surf Tourism Research page for a complete list of publications on surf site sustainability and conservation, including international peer-reviewed journal papers, book chapters, and popular magazine articles.

Selected highlights and links below:

Conducting research on "Surf Resource System Boundaries" in Thailand | Click University News Page...

I hope you enjoy my photos and the information in the links provided.

If you feel motivated to learn more about these or other surfing experiences, or would like to arrange for me to give a public talk, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven Martin

Water Safety

Water Safety

WATER SAFETY, LIFEGUARDING, AND TEACHING WITH THE AMERICAN RED CROSS

Backstory

At 15 years old, arriving in Hawaii for the first time, I was captivated by the Pacific – and the ocean became my life-long teacher. The surfing lifestyle led me to health, nature, and freedom.

Surfing was what I loved to do, and over time I found myself increasingly "Doing what I love, and loving what I do."

At Waikiki with Lifeguards Hawaii State

My surfing lifestyle led me to train and become qualified as an ocean lifeguard/Water Safety Officer. Later I traveled the world as a surfer, and eventually settled down at a university on a tropical island (Phuket, Thailand), earned a PhD in surf site conservation, and became a professional environmental researcher.

Through my experiences as a water safety professional, I learned important first-responder skills, such as First Aid and CPR. Later, I became an American Red Cross instructor.

Practical Experience and Professional Service

The sport of surfing has inherent risks, and practical experience and an understanding of ocean safety go hand and hand. It is common for surfers seek advanced water safety or lifeguard training, especially if they are thinking of working at the beach. My case was no exception, and now I reflect on forty years of ocean experience in twenty-five countries, including five years' service as a Hawaii County Water Safety Officer, and seasonal service as a California State Park Lifeguard. Although lifeguarding was not my only career, it has been a continuous theme in personal and professional life.

In 1987, I was introduced to instructor programs with American Red Cross through a Hawaiian friend at the beach, and this was when I first became a teacher. I continued teaching these courses until 1997. Mainly I taught courses in Advanced Lifesaving, Lifeguarding, First-aid, and CPR.

Phuket Rip Currents Poster | Steven Martin | Prince of Songkla University

Surf experience highlights in my life include participating in amateur surf contests and as an official surf contest judge in Hawaii, North America, South America, Africa, Europe and Asia. These and other experiences culminated in the idea to create an international surfing school in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, in 1998.

I have saved over 100 lives in ocean rescues, the majority of them being off duty, while surfing or teaching surfing.

Lifeguarding at Kahaluu and White Sands (Magic Sands) Beach Parks in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | 1985-1991

The 1980s in Hawaii was a formative period in the development of public water safety services. Many popular beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii, such as White Sands (Magic Sands) Beach in Kailua-Kona, did not have lifeguard stations or towers. The traditional Hawaiian name for the site is La'a Loa.

The photos shared here are from my Surfing Scrapbook.

Lifeguarding White Sands Beach (La'a Loa) | Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | 1989

Lifeguarding White Sands Beach (La'a Loa) | Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | 1990

White Sands Point (La'a Loa) | Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | 2000 | Click to "A Brief History of Surfing"

Kahaluu Beach Park | County of Hawaii

Kuemanu Heiau (surfing shrine) | Kahaluu Beach Park, Big Island of Hawaii | Click enlarge

Students learning to surf at the Kuemanu Heiau surfing shrine at Kahaluu Beach Park

Lifeguarding at Hapuna Beach State Park in South Kohala, Hawaii, with Lifeguards Hawaii State

Hapuna State Beach has a long history of drowning and near-drowning incidents. During the 1970s and 80s, while Hawaii County provided lifeguard services at County beach parks, State beach parks were left unguarded.

Hapuna State Beach was particularly dangerous due to the deep water and north-west exposure, making the beach wide open to large and powerful north-west ocean swells during the winter months.

In 1990, the State opened a contract for private lifeguarding organizations to provide water safety services at Hapuna for the first time. Honolulu-based Lifeguards Hawaii State, owned and operated by John Quincy Adams (aka, JQA), took charge of the lifeguard program for first three years.

Hawaii County Lifeguard tower at Hapuna Beach State Park

Hawaii County lifeguard tower at Hapuna Beach State Park

Following the precedent set in January 1992, when the City and County of Honolulu was elected to place lifeguards at the notoriously dangerous Keawaula Beach on Oahu, an agreement was soon reached on the Big Island between Hawaii County and the State of Hawaii, leading to County lifeguards being stationed at Hapuna State Beach.

I was fortunate enough to be active during this formative period in the Big Island's water safety programs, having worked for the County, as well as Lifeguards Hawaii State.

Winter 1992 | Lifeguarding at Hapuna Beach State Park | Lifeguards Hawaii State

The first lifeguard tower at Hapuna Beach State Park in South Kohala, Hawaii | Lifeguards Hawaii State

California State Park Lifeguarding in San Clemente, Orange Coast State District

Just prior to County guards being officially stationed at Hapuna, I was accepted to the California State Park Lifeguard Training Program at Huntington Beach. Luckily, I survived the rigorous training and testing period at Huntington and got hired as a California State Park Lifeguard in San Clemente, Orange Coast District – a great place to be a surfer-lifeguard!

San Clemente was home to the surf beaks known collectively as "Trestles" at San Onofre State Beach, and being from out of state, I was allowed to camp and use the facilities at Trestles Headquarters (THQ) overlooking the breaks during the summer of 1992.

The surf breaks known collectively as "Trestles" at San Onofre State Beach | Click to enlarge

Surfing and Ocean Safety in Phuket, Thailand

After moving to the resort island of Phuket, Thailand, in 2007, to study for my MBA in Hospitality and Tourism Management, I became interested in ocean safety at local beaches.

During my first week on the island, I made several surf-related rescues at unguarded beaches. That year, during the Southwest Monsoon (May to October), I rescued five tourists in the surf, and decided to conduct water safety research on the island. My study found that surfers were unintentionally acting as surrogate lifeguards at Phuket beaches, assisting tourists and the general public who got into trouble in the surf.

I wrote several articles for a local magazine on related subjects, created the Phuket Ocean Safety Guide, and in April of 2010, the research made the front page of the Phuket Gazette. I also discussed this issue in my Master's thesis, "Coastal resource assessment for surf tourism in Thailand," and on local radio.

Discussing surf and ocean safety on the air in Phuket, Thailand | Click photo to my Master's research

Phuket Ocean Safety Guide | Click to view

Coastal Currents in Phuket | Click to view

Surfer Lifesavers of Phuket | Click to view

Surf's Up, Drownings Down | Click to view

Water Safety and Lifeguarding Experience

1991-2019 Lifeguards Hawaii State

  • Water Safety Consultant

1998-2003 Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors (HLSI)

  • Surfing and Ocean Safety Instructor

1987-1997 American Red Cross, Hawaii Island Chapter

  • Instructor in Lifeguarding, Swimming, First Aid and CPR
  • Water Safety Instructor (WSI)

1991-1992 California State Park Lifeguard

  • State Lifeguard – California Department of Parks and Recreation

1985-1991 County of Hawaii

  • Water Safety Officer (WSO II)

1992-1993 Boy Scouts of America

  • Boy Scout Merit Badge Instructor in First Aid and CPR

1988-1990 Ocean Sports Waikoloa

  • First Aid and CPR Instructor

1987-1997 Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety Instructor

  • Swimming, Water Safety and Lifeguard Instructor
  • First Aid and CPR Instructor

1988-1992 Parker High School, Hawaii

  • Swimming Coach, Water Safety and Lifeguard Instructor
  • First Aid and CPR Instructor

Letters of Recommendation

Thank you for visiting my Water Safety and Lifeguarding Page.

I hope you enjoy the photos and the information in the links provided. If you feel motivated to learn more about ocean safety, lifeguarding or surf tourism, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven Martin

Surf Tourism Research

Surf Tourism Research

SURF TOURISM RESEARCH AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT OF SURFING SITES 

One of my favorite research areas is surf tourism, especially when addressing the conservation of coastal surfing resources. It has been a great way to bring together my personal experience in surfing, surf travel, managing an international surf school (1998-2003), and academic research.

Celebrities from Bangkok try surfing for the first time in Phuket

Conducting Surf Tourism Research in Phuket, Thailand | Click to Phuket Gazette News

My personal experience and research indicate that the world's surfing breaks are iconic locations worthy of protection for future generations. Surf sites are also significant economic engines for local communities with sustainability a key issue.

To address these problems, I developed the Surf Resource Sustainability Index (SRSI pdf), a methodology aimed at measuring the conservation aptitude at surf sites. SRSI is a metric-orientated planning and development methodology – a theoretical compass which points toward sustainability, representing the summation of assessable qualities or attributes a site possesses which can make a positive contribution to sustainability.

NEWS | Surfers save the Eisbach River wave in downtown Munich, Germany

The Eisbach River Wave (Eisbachwelle) is one of the best and most consistent city-center river surfing spots in the world.

When local authorities planned to destroy the Eisbachwelle, local and international surfers responded with a public campaign and online petition to "save the wave"... Read more...

NEWS | Surfing the Eisbach River Wave | Munich, Germany


Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Management

Thesis Title: A Surf Resource Sustainability Index for Surf Site Conservation and Tourism Management

Abstract

Surf sites around the world are under ever-increasing pressures from tourism, coastal development, pollution and other anthropogenic factors, and this research introduces and illuminates surfing areas as integral natural resources. The dissertation develops a Surf Resource Sustainability Index (SRSI) and presents it through a series of three peer-reviewed journal papers. The SRSI is designed as a global model and framework of indicators and methods for the assessment of surf site conservation attributes. A systematic literature review of surf tourism research was used in conjunction with the author’s personal experience and discussion with experienced surfers and scholars to develop twenty-seven sustainability indicators. Framing them as social, economic, environmental and governance indices, the study defines the criteria, implications and applicability for each indicator in context. A progression of field studies was carried out in Phuket, Thailand, where an emerging surf tourism market segment is additive to the island’s bustling tourism economy and escalating coastal resource management issues. The SRSI has proven effective in assessing sites and pinpointing key areas of concern. SRSI metrics are particularly applicable to the cross-sectional evaluation of surf sites and serve as a direct method in the prioritization of sites for surfing reserve development. This research contributes to the fields of surf resource conservation and tourism management through the innovation and application of a new and pragmatic methodology.

Keywords: coastal management, conservation, sustainability indicators, surf resource sustainability index, surf tourism, Phuket, Thailand

My PhD process

My PhD was research-based and followed a standard protocol set forth by the Faculty of Environmental Management. I was required to prepare a qualifying exam, supplemental exam, thesis proposal, thesis defense, thesis poster, and three international journal publications.


Master of Business Administration in Hospitality and Tourism Management

Thesis Title: Coastal resource assessment for surf tourism in Thailand

Abstract

Framed as an exploratory research of Thailand’s physical environment, this study identifies and assesses the natural surfing resources of the Andaman Coast, including the sources, types and locations of waves in relationship to the regional and coastal topography. Underpinning the research is the collection and review of the literature on coastal resource management, surfing in Thailand, and the scholarly works pertaining to surf tourism. From a social science standpoint, personal interviews with Thai and foreign resident surfers, tourists, and members of local communities were carried out. The investigation locates a wide range of areas suitable for surf tourism and indicates that Thailand’s natural resources are somewhat limited and coupled with issues of water quality, ocean safety, regularity and quality of surfing waves, and the accessibility to remote coastal areas during the southwest monsoon. The study finds that surf tourism in Thailand is at a stage of infancy, has potential, and affords an opportunity to develop sustainably. The research advances the overall understanding of surfing in Thailand and offers a series of recommendations for the coastal resource management and conservation of surfing areas.

Keywords: surf tourism, coastal resource, coastal assessment, Andaman, Phuket, Thailand


Academic papers and publications

Martin, S. A. (2022). From shades of grey to Web of Science: A systematic review of surf tourism research in international journals (2011–2020). Journal of Sport & Tourism. https://doi.org/10.1080/14775085.2022.2037453

Previous research outlined the genesis of a new body of surf tourism research based on a wide array of grey and published literature (Martin & Assenov, 2012). The aim of this paper is to further investigate the development of the field through an evidence-based informetric analysis of international journal articles listed in Web of Science or Scopus databases. Employing a systematic review of journal papers published from 2011 to 2020, the study addresses the previous grey literature problem of accessibility and eligibility criteria for citation. Findings are drawn from explicit and tangential studies which capture an up-to-date overview of the evolution of surf tourism research. The study identifies active journals, authors, field locations, and leading areas of research, suggesting that the field has entered a period of ‘academic professionalization’. A bibliography of 96 journal articles presents academics and readers with a corpus of accessible research.

Keywords: citation criteria; Scopus; surf tourism research; systematic review; Web of Science


Martin, S. A., & Ritchie, R. (2019). A social science index and conceptual framework for assigning weights in surf tourism planning and development.Tourism Planning and Development, 16(3) 281–303. https://doi.org/10.1080/21568316.2018.1470999

This paper develops a social science weighting schema for surf tourism planning and sustainable development, eco-tourism, and conservation studies using surf tourism as a representative worked example. Assessment scores from a previously published surf resource sustainability field study of nine beaches in Phuket, Thailand, were weighted against data taken from surveys of expert scholars and surfers from a range of diverse backgrounds. The study measured levels of significance among weighted and unweighted means and bias ratio for 27 social, economic, environmental and governance indicators. Differences between scores and weighted scores were, in general, low, but this was not the case in key areas of concern, notably governance, and areas where poor governance had negative consequences, such as water quality. The findings indicate that analysis of weighted data helps identify key metrics. We show that analysis of weighted data provides insights not apparent from working on unweighted data. The procedures and weighting strategies employed in this research can be used for tourism planning and other related research activities which use interview data, such as research on, ecotourism, national park surveys, amateur fishing, snorkeling and reef tours. This study provides a conceptual framework for comparisons of different studies using similar protocols.

Keywords: conservation; surf resource sustainability index; surf tourism; Thailand; tourism planning; weights


Martin, S. A., & O'Brien, D. (2017). Part 2: A systems approach – Chapter 2. Surf resource system boundaries. In G. Borne and J. Ponting (Eds.), Sustainable surfing (pp. 23–38). Routledge: London.

Ch.2 (pp. 23–38) PDF

Read more...

Introduction

A ‘system boundary’ is a theoretical concept in environmental science representing the intersecting and interrelated human and physical elements in the natural world at a given site. This chapter develops a system boundary discussion on surf sites, recognizing ‘surf system boundaries’ as more than the beach and sea; they encompass numerous stakeholder interests and factors related to the scope of the ‘whole’ surf system as a sustainable and dynamic model. The following discussion serves to review and broaden the knowledge of surf system boundaries and provide clarity in two sets of dimensions: the physical boundaries of surf sites and the resource stakeholders.

Keywords: surf tourism; surf resource; system boundaries; environmental management

University News: Dr. Steven Andrew Martin Recognized for Social Science Research and Publication in Environmental Studies with a New Book Chapter on Surf Resource System Boundaries.


Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2015). Measuring the conservation aptitude of surf beaches in Phuket, Thailand: An application of the surf resource sustainability index. International Journal of Tourism Research, 17(2) 105–117. https://doi.org/10.1002/jtr.1961

Abstract

The research seeks to measure the conservation aptitude of nine surf beaches in Phuket, Thailand by employing the Surf Resource Sustainability Index, an assessment methodology comprising 27 social, economic, environmental and governance indicators used to frame and quantify attributes for conservation development. The research identifies and documents key areas of concern for the sustainability of the island's coastal surfing resources and distinguishes steps forward to address emergent issues. The study finds that by improving the awareness, legislative status and management of surfing sites, the overall conservation aptitude for the island could be raised considerably.

Keywordssurf resource sustainability index; surf tourism; conservation; Phuket, Thailand


Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2014). Investigating the importance of surf resource sustainability indicators: Stakeholder perspectives for surf tourism planning and development. Tourism Planning and Development11(2) 127–148. https://doi.org/10.1080/21568316.2013.864990

Abstract

The sustainability and conservation of coastal surfing resources have gained considerable attention in the twenty-first century. Scholars, graduate students, not-for-profit organizations, and commercial and governmental sectors have entered the surf tourism research field in order to better understand and manage surf sites. This research investigates the significance of 27 social, economic, environmental, and governance indicators outlined in the Surf Resource Sustainability Index, a contemporary methodology for measuring the conservation aptitude of surf sites. Twenty-one highly experienced surfers from diverse backgrounds were chosen for in-depth interviews based on their position as key stakeholders and for their practical experience, knowledge, and interaction with the resource. The study finds that surfers placed the highest importance for conservation aptitude on beach quality, water quality, legislative status, biodiversity, and history. Overall, environmental and governance indicators were slightly more significant than social indicators, and economic indicators were the least significant. Stakeholders' comments and corresponding ratings are listed for each indicator and provide insight to their perspectives and evaluations. The research contributes to surf tourism planning and development though the clarification of sustainability indicators and the discernment of indicator importance by surfers. A surf resource conservation action matrix is developed for future policy design and management.

Keywords: sustainability indicators; surf resource sustainability index; surf tourism; conservation aptitude


Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2014). Developing a surf resource sustainability index as a global model for surf beach conservation and tourism research. Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research, 19(7) 760–792. https://doi.org/10.1080/10941665.2013.806942

Abstract

The growth of surfing activities and surf tourism has gained significant attention in the academia during the past decade. This paper is aimed at developing a framework of indicators and methods used in assessing the sustainability factors of surf sites. The research puts forward a Surf Resource Sustainability Index (SRSI) as a conceptual model to study the sustainability of surf tourism sites. The literature review, previous experience, and discussion with veteran surfers and scholars were used to develop indicators and determine their measurability and aptitude. Index pilot testing was carried out in Phuket, Thailand, where an emerging surf culture and tourism market segment add to the island's bustling economy and coastal resource-management issues. The case study underpins the importance of social, economic, environmental, and governance factors in the conservation process. The SRSI metrics provide a direct method for assessing surf sites and offer tangible benefits to surfers and other stakeholders.

Keywords: surf tourismcoastal resourcessustainability indicatorsindexThailand

Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2012). The genesis of a new body of sport tourism literature: A systematic review of surf tourism research (1997-2011). Journal of Sport and Tourism, 17(4), 257–287. https://doi.org/10.1080/14775085.2013.766528

Abstract

Surf tourism is a rapidly expanding market segment of the wider sport tourism industry and the purpose of this study is to provide an analytical interpretation of surf tourism research. Published and unpublished literature from 1997 through to 2011 was collected through searching a variety of academic databases and communicating directly with the authors themselves. A systematic review was employed to identify and analyze the types of research emerging from international journals, universities, governments, and the not-for-profit sector. The study indicates a genesis in sport tourism literature, representing a new and available body of surf tourism research. We find that this new area of research has arisen mainly from the grey literature through the works of graduate students and consultants. Surfing events, artificial surfing reefs, and the sustainability of surf sites and host communities are among the most prolific areas under discussion and key arguments include socioeconomics, coastal management, and sustainable tourism. Approximately 10% of countries in the world with coastal surfing resources have been studied, and this and other findings indicate the potential for new areas of research in domestic and international tourism. A bibliography provides 156 documentary materials compiled for the systematic review.

Keywords: surfingsurf tourismliterature reviewsustainabilitycoastal management

Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2011). Beach and coastal survey of Thailand: What future for surf tourism. Journal of Tourism, Hospitality & Culinary Arts, 3(1), 77–87.

Abstract

Surfing and surf tourism run parallel: they are focused upon location-specific destinations where natural resources and phenomena occur conducive to the sport, and traveling for the sake of surfing new places is as old as the sport itself. The research investigates the broad environment of Thailand through the survey and assessment of coastal resources in order to determine the plausibility of developing surf tourism in Thailand. The study also examines surf tourist characteristics in Phuket, Thailand, through unstructured and semi-structured personal interviews. The research identified five Thai provinces best suited for surf tourism and suggests that there are suitable locations for surfing and surf tourism, including those for advanced, intermediate, and beginner surfers. A Thailand-specific definition for surf tourism is put forward, reflecting the natural environment and the characteristics of current surf tourists. The paper identifies future prospects, challenges, and issues for developing sustainable surf tourism in Thailand.

Keywords: surf tourism; sustainable surfing; surf site assessment; Thailand


Global Surf Cities Conference, Surfer's Paradise, Australia

In 2013, I was invited to give several talks to the international surfing community at the Global Surf Cities Conference in Australia. I was asked to present research on the Surf Resource Sustainability Index (SRSI) and the surf tourism industry in Phuket, Thailand. Please click the buttons below to view or share these presentations.

  • Kirra Hill Community and Cultural Centre
  • Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
  • Wednesday, 27 February – Friday, 1 March, 2013

Presenting the Surf Resource Sustainability Index at the Global Surf Cities Conference on the Gold Coast, Australia


National and International Surfing Reserves

Surf tourism is a new and dynamic area of research, with most studies targeting the economics and sustainable management of coastal resources, including stakeholder perspectives, conservation, water quality and biodiversity of marine organisms (Martin & Assenov, 2012).

Brad Farmer, a leading advocate for the "Conservation of oceans, waves and beaches, and the salty communities who share them," and global chair of the non-profit organization National Surfing Reserves (NSR), met with me in Phuket to discuss my research and the protection of surf sites in Thailand for future generations (Phuket Gazette, 2011).

Meeting in Phuket, Thailand, with Australian Brad Farmer from National Surfing Reserves | Click to Phuket Gazette News

Conservation Leadership

Farmer is an outstanding example of personal commitment and proactive engagement in surf site conservation. He developed the Surfing Reserve program in order to recognize surf sites as "Iconic places of intrinsic environmental, heritage, sporting and cultural value, and to embrace all peoples to enjoy, understand and protect special coastal environments of universal value to the surfing world" (NSR, 2017). Farmer maintains the core values of conservation: "A Surfing Reserve does not attempt to exclude any user group."

For more information, please surf to these websites:

NSR – National Surfing Reserves

WSR – World Surfing Reserves


Nalu Longboarder's Magazine (Japan) – Surf Tourism Research in Phuket

In 2008, Japanese surf magazine "Nalu" came to Phuket to write a story featuring the island's waves and my surf tourism research. The article, written by Riku Emoto and photographed by Yasuma Miura, was centered on the concept of a surfer conducting research on surfing for an academic degree (published in Japanese).


Conferences and Proceedings

In recent years, I have been active in presenting surf tourism research at conferences and raising awareness of the value and significance of surfing as a coastal resource.

At the 18th Asia Pacific Tourism Association Annual Conference (APTA) in 2012, "Towards a surf resource sustainability index: A global model for surf site conservation and Thailand case study" won the Best Paper Award (Green Aspect on Tourism Development Research), selected out of 171 papers.

Martin, S. A. (2009). Rethinking the monsoon: Sustainable surf tourism in Thailand. Paper presented at the International Tourism Conference on Sustainable Hospitality and Tourism Management: Beyond the Global Recession. Silpakon University, Bangkok, Thailand, May 14–15.

Martin, S. A. (2010). The conservation of coastal surfing resources in Thailand: The Andaman Sea. Proceedings of the International Conference on the Environment and Natural Resources (ICENR) 2010  The Changing Environment: Challenges for Society (pp. 262–280), Mahidol University, Salaya Campus, Bangkok, Thailand, November 10–12.

Martin, S. A. (2013). Surf tourism and resource sustainability in Phuket, Thailand. Scholarly presentation [PowerPoint]. Global Surf Cities Conference: Destination Innovation Collaboration, Kirra Hill Community and Cultural Centre, Gold Coast, QLD, February 28 – March 1. Gold Coast: Gold Coast Surf City, Inc.

Martin, S. A. (2013). The surf resource sustainability index and Thailand case trial. Scholarly presentation [PowerPoint]. Global Surf Cities Conference: Destination Innovation Collaboration, Kirra Hill Community and Cultural Centre, Gold Coast, QLD, February 28 – March 1. Gold Coast: Gold Coast Surf City, Inc.

Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2008). Beach and coastal survey: What future for surf tourism. CD Proceedings of the 7th Asia Pacific Forum for Graduate Students’ Research in Tourism – Advances in Tourism Practices: Pointing the Way Forward (p. 12). University Teknologi Mara, Selangor, Malaysia, June 3–5.

Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2008). Interdisciplinary approaches toward sustainable surf tourism in Thailand. Paper presented at the 1st PSU Sustainability Conference. Prince of Songkla University, Phuket Campus, Thailand, November 19–21.

Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2011). A statistical analysis of surf tourism research literatureCD Proceedings of the 4th Annual PSU Research Conference: Multidisciplinary Studies on Sustainable Development (p. 57). Prince of Songkla University, Phuket, Thailand, November 16–18.

Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2012). Measuring the importance of social, economic, environmental and governance indicators for the surf resource sustainability index. Proceedings of the 1st Annual PSU Phuket International Conference: Multidisciplinary Studies on Sustainable Development (p. 51). Prince of Songkla University, Phuket, Thailand, January 10–12, 2013.

Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2012). Towards a surf resource sustainability index: A global model for surf site conservation and Thailand case studyProceedings of the 18th Asia Pacific Tourism Association Annual Conference (APTA) Hospitality & Tourism Education: New Tourism & New Waves (pp. 745–760). Taipei, ROC, June 26–29. Busan, Korea: School of International Tourism, Dong-A University. [+ best paper award]

Martin, S. A., Assenov, I., & Ritchie, R. (2014). Towards a social science index and conceptual framework for assigning weights in sustainability research. Proceedings of the 3rd Annual PSU Phuket International Conference: Multidisciplinary Studies on Sustainable Development (p. 70). Prince of Songkla University, Phuket, Thailand, November 13–14. [+ best paper award]

Thank you for visiting my Surf Tourism Research Page.

I hope you enjoy the information in the links provided. If you feel motivated to learn more about surf tourism or the environmental management of surf sites, or would like to arrange a public talk, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven Martin

My Story – Read More

My Story – Read More

From Homepage...

From GED to PhD –

After reading the Swiss Family Robinson at 15 years old, I left home in the Ohio rustbelt in 1978 and flew to Hawaii where I planned to live in a treehouse. I found work as cook and trained to become a chef.

 At the same time, I discovered Hawaii's big waves and surfing.

Over the following few years, I learned American Red Cross lifesaving skills, became a County of Hawaii beach lifeguard, and went on to start a surf school. I taught surf skills to hundreds of people including international celebrities, movie stars and astronauts from NASA.

 

Continued from Homepage...

My love for surfing, learning, and meeting new people led me to the University of Hawaii's Chinese philosophy summer program at Peking University. It was a great way to travel and earn a B.A. at the same time. This path led to study abroad in China, Costa Rica, South Africa, and Spain.

After graduating, I was fortunate enough to obtain a prestigious Taiwan Scholarship to study for a Master's degree. My research took me to the mountains of Taiwan to live among the world's last headhunters, the Formosan aborigines, and document their lives in ethnographic films.

But surfing remained my true passion, and after discovering perfect uncrowded waves on the Andaman Coast, I moved to Phuket, Thailand, to join the Faculty of International Studies at Prince of Songkla University.

My ongoing research on surf tourism and the environment has led to an MBA, a PhD, and a growing list of publications.

I hope others can benefit from my story and find success in their own lives.

Surfer’s Journal

Surfer’s Journal

Surfing changed my life

Surfing connected me to a healthy lifestyle, nature, and freedom.

At 15 years old, arriving in Hawaii for the first time, the Pacific captured my imagination – and the ocean became my life-long teacher.

The photos shared on this page are my scrapbook. I hope that anyone who surfs to this page will enjoy them.

Surfing in Hawaii with my friends in the 1980s (I'm second from left)

1980s

I got my first surfboard in 1979, a 5' 6" kneeboard, far too small to float me or paddle on – but I didn’t know any better.

That first year I took a beating on the reef, healing my wounds on the shore. In surfer slang – I got slammed, took my beatings, and learned my lessons the hard way. What didn’t kill me made me stronger.

Steven A Martin PhD - First Surfboard Kona Hawaii

1980 at "Old Airports" in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | My first fiberglass surfboard

Beach Lifeguarding | Kona, Hawaii

Steven A Martin PhD - Lifeguarding White Sands Beach Kona - County of Hawaii

Lifeguarding at Magic Sands Beach in Kona in 1989 for the County of Hawaii

Steven A Martin PhD - Surfing Magic Sands Point, Kona, Hawaii

Surfing Magic Sands Point, Kona, Hawaii, in 1991, during lunch beak

A good day at Magic Sands Point (La'a Loa) | c.1990 | Click to enlarge

Surfing with NASA Astronauts | The Space Ambassadors

One morning after a volunteer project at Kahaluu Beach Park in Kona, Hawaii, a couple approached me to ask if I collected patches, offering me a small patch with an image of the space shuttle on it.

It was none other than Scott Horowitz, four-time commander of the Space Shuttle, and his wife, Lisa.

Scott had just a few minutes to learn to surf, and so I geared him up, and we hit the water. Scott was a surf instructor's dream, naturally enough. As an astronaut, he had been selected for both physical strength and learning ability – so he was very close to the perfect student.

Commander Scott Horowitz (lower right) and Mission Specialist Pat Forrester (lower center) and the STS-105 Crew

I saw a wave coming, just the right size and shape, and we got Scott turned toward the beach, in position on the board, and with a well-timed push coordinated with the wave, he was launched like a rocket. He found his balance, stood up, and was surfing on the first try. Beyond expectation, he turned on his own and traveled along the open face of the wave. It was the best I ever saw a student do on the first wave.

After his first wave, Scott exclaimed, "Surfing is out of this world!"

One thing led to another and over the next year I found myself imagining the entire shuttle crew to coming to the Big Island of Hawaii to surf and appear at local schools.

The next year Scott and fellow astronaut Pat Forrester came to Hawaii, officially representing the NASA Space Program, and appearing at schools across the island and catching a few waves.

I wrote a short article named, "The Space Ambassadors" to share the experience in the Kona Views Magazine.

With Astronaut Scott Horowitz in Kona, Hawaii

With Astronaut Scott Horowitz in Kona, Hawaii

Astronaut Scott Horowitz with his wife Lisa after surfing in Kona, Hawaii

International Surfing Scrapbook

I was young and enthusiastic about surfing and travel, so toting heavy camera gear, such as the telephoto lenses needed for surf photography, wasn't an option. These days were long before digital photography and the advent of the selfie.

I don't have many photos of the waves or photos of myself surfing in the early years of my international surfing, so I am thankful to have a few to share here on this page.

These are mainly amateur scrapbook pics, taken by friends made along the way, and recently dug out of an old shoebox and scanned.

Surfing Lyman's Point in Kona, Hawaii, in the 1980s with "Cab" (far left) and me, second from left

c.1989 | Kohala Lighthouse, Big Island of Hawaii

1991 | Lyman's Point, Kailua-Kona, Big Island of Hawaii

Summer 1992 | South swells at Lyman's Point, Kailua-Kona, Big Island | Photo by Jeff Middleton

1992 | Bells Beach, Australia

1992 | Angourie, Australia

Winter 1992 | Inaugural Tiger Espere Longboard Classic, Kawaihae Breakwall, Hawaii | Click to learn more...

Summer 1992 | Magic Sands Point, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | Photo by Jeff Middleton

Surfing the Basque Coast, Spain | Bay of Biscay | Click to enlarge

1993 | Ubiri point break, Spain | Bay of Biscay

1993 | Ubiri point break, Spain | Karramarro (Crab) in Basque

1993 | Biarritz, France, with the Italian surf club, the "Hurricanes"

1993 | Nearly drowning in the rip-current while bodysurfing during high tide at Grande Plage, Biarritz, France! – As the lifeguard signals with his whistle

1993 | Sunrise at low tide | Grande Plage, Biarritz, France

1994 | Red Bluff, Western Australia

1994 | Big waves at Red Bluff, Western Australia

Winter of 1996 at the Kahaluu beach house, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, before leaving to study abroad in South Africa

1997 | Jeffreys Bay, South Africa | Click to South Africa page...

1997 | Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, with Hawaii Lifeguard JQA

1998 | Lisbon, Portugal, while studying abroad | Click to Spain page...

1998 | Algarve, Portugal, while studying abroad | Click to Spain page...

2002 | Surfing "House Rights" at the beach house, Kahaluu, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

June 20, 2004 | Typhoon Dianmu | Bashendong, Taiwan | Click to enlarge...

2004 | Chenggong, on Taiwan's east coast | Click to Taiwan page...

September 17, 2006 | Typhoon Shan Shan | Fulong Beach, Taiwan | Click to enlarge...

2008 | Paddling out in the Andaman Sea at Karon Beach, Phuket, Thailand

2008 | Having fun at Kata Noi Beach, Phuket, Thailand

2008 | Kata Beach Surf Club, Phuket, Thailand

2008 | Japan's Nalu Magazine featuring Steven's university surf site conservation research | Click to view this Japanese article

2007 | Kamala Beach Surfing Contest, Thailand

2008 | Phuket Surfing Contest, Kalim Beach, Thailand

2009 | Monsoon Mayhem Surfing Contest | Desaru Beach, Malaysia

2009 | 1st Place (Longboard) | Monsoon Mayhem Surfing Contest, Desaru, Malaysia

2009 | Monsoon Mayhem Surfing Contest | Desaru Beach, Malaysia

Kalim Reef, Phuket, Thailand

Phuket surfing fun | Wave police

Thank you for visiting my Surfer's Journal Page.

I hope you enjoy the photos and information in the links provided. If you feel motivated to learn more about international surfing or surf tourism, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven Martin