The Human Dimension & Why It Matters
The expanding tourism industry has impacted the Galapagos’ local population by contributing to economic change and social issues.
On the Path of Light | 2012

In a place where there are no professional surfers, or even a real surf shop, the locals in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno do not view surfing as a legitimate profession. Isolated as they are from mainland Ecuador and from the larger world of surfing, the general population is unaware of the culture of professional surfing, with lucrative sponsorship deals and high-stakes competitions.

“The people, in general, have a negative view of surfers, as lazy, starving people,” said Tobias Idrovo. At 19, he is one of the best surfers in the Galápagos, with ambitions of going pro. He thinks the locals’ poor view of surfers is unfounded. He and his friends are not lazy beach bums or hard-partying teenagers, not by a long shot. Idrovo says he does not smoke or drink, and he tries to be an example for the younger surfers, too. They are athletes, as Idrovo sees it, and the hours they spend in the water count as training.

The surfers of the Galápagos lack formal training with coaches, and it is difficult to gain exposure and attract sponsors. To do that, Idrovo says, one must travel to the mainland or abroad and surf in the major competitions. Idrovo believes that bringing home a sponsorship would legitimize the small local surfing culture and galvanize young surfers.

“If someone were to have a sponsor, it would give more of a push to the guys that aren’t pursuing their goals, and they will realize that the dream is possible,” Idrovo said.

Of the roughly 25,000 people who live in the Galápagos, Idrovo estimates that there are 50 local surfers, and of those, maybe 15 who are wholly dedicated to surfing, who want to make it a profession.

"We are a community, a brotherhood."
-Tobias "Toto" Idrovo