Surfer 'paradise' in Puerto Rico at stake in hotel fight

The sun had just risen along Puerto Rico's northwest coast when Paul Schmidt hopped off his surfboard and emerged from the water at Wilderness Beach, ending another session at a remote area that draws surfers from around the world looking for the next big wave.

That day, he and only about 20 fellow surfers shared waves reaching more than 10 feet high. But Schmidt and others worry that the days are numbered for this slice of rocky beach ringed by mangrove forest and palm trees, with not a store or house in sight.

Developers and local officials eager to improve the economy want to transform the area into a more traditional tourism destination, bringing a hotel and villas to...