Coastal Recreation Studies

The Surfrider Foundation and its partners are conducting coastal and ocean recreation studies in regions across the United States. The studies collect data from recreational users on non-consumptive activities such as beach going, surfing, kayaking, diving, and wildlife viewing. Study results include spatial data (e.g., maps) and economic impact data. This information fills a key gap in our understanding of coastal and ocean uses and is being used to inform regional ocean planning efforts. Please see below for links to study reports and fact sheets.

Washington Coast Recreational Use Study 

​The Surfrider Foundation, in partnership with Point 97 and the state of Washington, recently completed the Washington Coastal and Ocean Recreation Study and released the report in May, 2015. The study collected economic and spatial data on “non-consumptive” recreational uses such as beach going, kayaking, wildlife viewing, hiking and biking, and surfing.  More than 250 recreational groups and businesses throughout the state were contacted, and 6,500 completed surveys resulted in over 17,500 data points.

Coastal recreation provides significant economic and social benefits to coastal communities and the state—these include direct expenditures, as well as social benefits such as citizen enjoyment. In 2014, Washington residents took an estimated 4.1 million trips to the coasts, with nearly 60 percent indicating their primary purpose was recreation. That recreation included a variety of activities including beach going (67%), sightseeing (62%), photography (36%) hiking and biking (33%), surfing/kayaking/boating (7%) and wildlife viewing (40%). When at the coast, the average respondent spent $117.14 per trip, translating to an estimated $481 million dollars in total direct expenditures for coastal communities and the states, through hotel visits, shopping, dining and other trip-related expenditures. 

For more information about this study, please contact Gus Gates, Surfrider's Washington Policy Manager, at

Mid-Atlantic Coastal & Ocean Recreation Study 

The Surfrider Foundation partnered with Point 97, The Nature Conservancy, and Monmouth University to complete the Mid-Atlantic Coastal & Ocean Recreation Study in 2013-2014. Almost 1,500 completed surveys were collected, which included over 20,000 data points on where people are recreating in the Mid-Atlantic. This new data is incredibly important for regional ocean planning moving ahead in the region. The data will be integrated into the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal and available for use by the newly formed Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body (RPB) to create a plan for ocean management in the Mid-Atlantic. For a version of the completed report (97 pages), click here. For more information about this study, please contact Matt Gove, Surfrider's Mid-Atlantic Policy Manager, at

Northeast Coastal and Marine Recreation Study 

A new study to characterize coastal and marine recreational activity in New England has been launched to support the Northeast regional ocean planning process.  Directed by the Northeast Regional Planning Body and led by Point 97, SeaPlan, and the Surfrider Foundation, the project will collect information on a variety of recreational uses such as beach going, wildlife viewing, surfing, and non-motorized boating (e.g. kayaking).  SeaPlan will collaborate with industry leaders such as operators and event organizers to determine data collection approaches and map fishing derbies, sailing regattas, commercial whale watching, and SCUBA diving. Surfrider will lead an opt-in online survey effort to collect data from individual recreational users and other members of the public.  The results of the study will be published in a final report and spatial data layers will also be incorporated into the Northeast Ocean Data Portal.  The survey launched on November 13, 2014, and will be available online through the end of April 2015; it is open to anyone 18+ years of age who has visited New England's ocean or coast at least once in 2014.  Register to take the survey by clicking here!

The project will not collect data on fishing or motorized boating from individual users; those activities are being addressed through other studies.  To join the Stakeholder Working Group, receive email updates on progress toward study goals, become a supporting Surfrider member, learn more about the New England Ocean Action Network, and for more information about this study, please contact Melissa Gates, Surfrider's Northeast Regional Manager, at or 207.706.6378.  

Oregon Non-consumptive Ocean Recreation Study 

For more information about this study, please contact Pete Stauffer, Surfrider's Environmental Director at