Ericeira is situated on the western coast of Portugal within the Mafra municipality, about 50 kilometers fromof Lisbon., Tthis seaside community is not only a haven for surfers but also a popular destination for both local and international tourists. Despite its modern popularity, Ericeira retains its roots as a traditional Portuguese fishing village, tracing its history back to the 12th century.
Since achieving World Surfing Reserve recognition in 2011, Ericeira has experienced a revitalization, attracting a growing number of wave enthusiasts. This surge in visitors prompted the development of accommodation spaces, transforming the village into an appealing destination with a diverse range of options catering to the local surf culture. Remarkably, it has managed to preserve its original characteristics and unique atmosphere. The village’s beaches are renowned for their surfing conditions, considered among the best in Europe.
Ericeira boasts a rich cultural and natural heritage, including landmarks like the Church of Misericórdia, Church of Saint Peter, and the Ericeira World Surf Reserve Interpretation Center. Natural resources, such as the Ericeira World Surfing Reserve and sea urchins, contribute to its unique identity.
Fishing remains a fundamental feature of Ericeira’s identity, with the fishing port and small vessels occupying a central place in the urban core showcasing the enduring significance of fishing in the local community . The historic center, characterized by houses painted in shades of blue and white, reflects its centuries-old fishing heritage and exudes charm with its decorative and architectural details. Notably, Ericeira is the first in Europe and the second worldwide. R recognized as a World Surfing Reserve. The criteria for its recognition included the quality of waves, cultural importance of local surfing, environmental sensitivity, and strong community mobilization.
Initiatives, such as the Sea Urchin International Festival and the Portuguese Surf Film Festival, aim to promote local products, support the economy, and combat tourist seasonality. Ericeira’s hosting of national and international surf events further aims to capitalize on tourist demand, support local trade sustainably to boost the economy and contribute to its global recognition as a surfing destination.
World Surfing Reserve: Catalyst for Economic and Environmental Success
The certification of Ericeira as a World Surfing Reserve has propelled its economic vitality, drawing in wave enthusiasts and investors alike. The collaboration between the Save the Waves Coalition and Ericeira’s management council since 2011 has maintained the village’s recognition, affirming its status regionally, nationally, and internationally. The surf culture not only stimulates economic growth but also serves as a model for sustainable tourism development, preserving the environment, culture, and the local economy.
Participation in collaborative surf networks further amplifies Ericeira’s positive impact, fostering development opportunities. Revenue generated through tourism, including a strategic tourist tax, plays a pivotal role in financing urban development, infrastructure creation, and cultural promotion. The enduring collaboration between the Save the Waves Coalition and the EWSR management council maintains Ericeira’s prestigious certification and promotes its international recognition as a surf ecosystem.
AMPIC: Safeguarding Ericeira's Marine Ecosystem
Ericeira is at the forefront of an ambitious initiative known as the AMPIC (Área Marinha Protegida de Interesse Comunitário), aiming to establish a marine protected area covering its sea. In collaboration with various research institutions, this project seeks to implement conservation and sustainable fishery strategies. The marine protected area, along with other area-based management tools, serves as a crucial step to protect marine species, habitats, and biodiversity, while also promoting the recovery of degraded ecosystems and enhancing the sustainability of marine resources.
In addition to conservation efforts, the project includes measures to support local fishing activities. This involves providing essential equipment for the Ericeira Fishing Port and offering administrative assistance for the modernization of fishing vessels. The AMPIC project reflects a collaborative commitment to preserving Ericeira’s marine ecosystem and ensuring the long-term sustainability of its valuable resources.
Sustainable Tourism Certification : A Holistic Approach
In an effort to promote a balanced relationship between human activity, environmental protection, and the preservation of historical and cultural heritage, the a certification program in sustainability for tourism sector agents has been initiated.
This program offers free access to the Biosphere Sustainable Lifestyle platform for all tourist agents within the territory.
The certification emphasizes measures to mitigate the impact of tourism on water consumption, sewage and solid waste generation, and the reduction of single-use plastics in the tourism sector. The Biosphere Sustainable Lifestyle platform serves as a valuable tool for business development, offering free access to companies interacting with the tourism sector. It tailors plans according to the specific characteristics of each business, be it hotels, restaurants, or other tourist-related entities, providing a comprehensive set of sustainable activities to adapt to a sustainable touristic development. This initiative underscores Mafra’s commitment to fostering environmentally responsible tourism and creating a positive impact on the local community.