Every year these six Latin American pro surfers pack their bags and travel along the Central and South American coast in search of young minds to inspire. Most of the surf spots they visit are small coastal communities with families living under harsh conditions and scarce financial resources. These surfers want to empower the younger generations living in these villages by teaching them to surf.

Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.

Wait, you thought that sucked?

At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.

Dude, if you are reading this article it’s likely that you are not part of the aforementioned statistics and if you keep reading you’ll learn about some surfers that are working to inspire a kid to surf, change a life and hopefully give them the stoke they need to live a better reality. I know surfing changed my life and it probably changed yours.

Where do good intentions start?

A group of old time friends (who happen to be pro surfers) joined together for a better cause and created a NGO called Granito de Arena to inspire kids to surf. Founded two years ago by life-long surfers and buddies Andres Fernandez from Ecuador, Gary Saavedra (Panama), Magnum Martinez (Venezuela), Martin Passeri (Argentina), and Otto Flores (Puerto Rico). Joining the group recently, is Carissa Moore (Hawaii), proudly representing a 70% increase in girls’ participation this year.

Every year these six Latin American pro surfers pack their bags and travel along the Central and South American coast in search of young minds to inspire. Most of the surf spots they visit are small coastal communities with families living under harsh conditions and scarce financial resources. These surfers aim to empower the younger generations living in these coastal communities by teaching them to surf.

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Carissa Moore (Hawaii), Granito de Arena’s newest member.


Granito de Arena believes exposing surfing to underprivileged kids helps build confidence, endurance, strength and determination. (How did surfing change your life?) Through learning to surf these children are exposed to life tools that could become the building blocks for a better life.

The moment these kids stand on a surfboard and ride a wave for the very first time they fall in love with the ocean’s all-embracing harmony—followed by a huge smile on their face and lots of stoke. Let’s not forget these children’s reality, most of them need a reason to smile and I can’t think of a better way to create one.

Granito de Arena’s secondly purpose for inspiring these young surfers is rooted in their lessons on respect for the ocean and planet. Granito de Arena wants these children to understand the link between their stoked feeling and the ocean. They know that if they can help make this connection there is a chance that these kids will look at the sea differently and begin to care for Papá Océano’s health. Granito de Arena’ official motto is, “Give a ‘grain of sand’ back to the ocean” and “let’s leave better children for our world.”

Photo courtesy of Gilbert Baez
Photo courtesy of Gilbert Baez

 Granito de Arena organizes surf camps + trash clean-ups for the local communities.

Granito de Arena gets in contact with the community’s school in advance to organize schedules and get written permission. Plastic bottles, sadly, are usually found laying around as litter on most of the locals beaches they visit. Granito de Arena asks the kids the day before their lesson to collect 20 plastic bottles as a symbolic exchange for the surfing lessons, passing along a great first lesson and empowering the children of the community to get directly involved in cleaning up their environment.

After having fun on the water they sit down with the kids and talk with them about the ocean and its magic. They show them through images and video presentations how plastic has negatively impacted our oceans and wildlife.  The members of Granito de Arena explain that there are ways to help change the travesty of plastic on the environment. They teach that plastic is not the problem, but what we do with the plastic and how we dispose of it and they discuss ways to live by responsibly.

This eye-opening statement is then followed by creative workshops for the kids and their caregivers. They show them fun ways of making something useful and functional reusing plastic bottles—pieces of furniture, walls for houses, mosquito traps (very essential for most tropical areas), among other brilliant ideas.

Andrés Fernández, Granito de Arena's founder, speaking to Salvadoran kids.
Andrés Fernández, Granito de Arena’s founder, speaking to Salvadoran kids.

 How do these guys ride the Wave of Inspiration?

Andrés understands the importance of addressing these issues and he feels that through surfing networks, problems can more easily be addressed. The pro surfers presence is very important because it influences more people and more sponsors to participate locally and internationally. Who wouldn’t want to spend a day with a pro surfer learning to surf?

Audience buildup keeps the wheels turning for Granito de Arena’s movement and helps them reach out to more and more communities. Their goal is to carry this message to all the countries of the world and give back, “un granito de Arena” at a time to our oceans.

Please watch this video.


Derek Dodds

Derek Dodds is founder of the world's first ecological surf company Wave Tribe, surfboard shaper, world traveler, author and Mini Simmons enthusiast.

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  • Love what you guys are doing, keep it up! I’ll def share this with some friends.
    Quick question: how are you getting the funds to support this? I can imagine the travel and boards can really cost a lot quickly. Thanks!

    • Thanks Nathan! Granito de Arena’s awesome team find sponsors to help promote and fund local surf camps for kids.
      They do most of the traveling on their own.
      Loving the ocean !

Meet Surfer Derek Dodds

Derek Dodds | Surfer, Shaper, Traveler
I'm Derek Dodds, the guy behind Srfer.com.com. I love surfing, shaping, adventure travel, IPAs, useful gear, and all things related to the sea.