SURFING SOAPBOX:Making Laguna look good

It was as if I had been captured in an episode of “Lost.”

I looked around in disbelief wondering out loud, to no one but myself, “So this is the Canary Islands?”

The island of Tenerife was where I thought I would be greeted with the warm arms of sub-tropical paradise.

But it wasn’t that at all. It made Laguna Beach in the worst months of tourism look like nothing less than a well-managed town.


Because here in the heart of “Los Americas” were thousands of tourists milling around on the boardwalk just above the beach.

It was surrounded by stores "” stores built on top of one another. Each store was rubbing shoulders with its next-door neighbor, and lighted by a slew of neon signs that looked like they had been whipped up in Hurricane Katrina.

It was enough to make me almost sick to my stomach "” looking at the effects on a town that didn’t plan it’s future strategically enough and just went crazy trying to appeal to the masses.

Sadly enough, their strategy worked a little too well and now they have begun to remodel this area in hopes of regaining what was lost when they decided to collide Disneyland, Las Vegas, Coney Island and whatever other tourist trap you can think of.


While this area is beginning a face-lift to repair overcommercialization, other areas of the island remain chaos free and are just as beautiful as I had ever imagined.

The highlight of my trip was the day we drove 12,000 feet up to an active snow-covered volcano.

Now that was amazing.


  • James Pribram is a Laguna Beach native, board member of Clean Water Now, professional surfer and founder of the Aloha School of Surfing. He can be reached at