Artificial waves might not give you as much of a thrill as the real deal, and they're definitely not as impressive when you're regaling your friends with stories of your worst wipeout, but they are a great way to catch the big waves when you have nothing but ankle busters offshore.
In this list, we'll look at some of the best surf parks in the United States, highlighting several parks open right now, as well as a few due to open in the coming years and months.
BSR Surf Resort, Waco, Texas
Choose from a variety of packages targeted at all levels of surfer. The Beginner package, for instance, costs just under $600 and provides 10 sessions on the smallest waves. If you have a little more experience you can expect to pay around $900 for 10 sessions on the expert waves.
It's open from 7 AM to 9 AM for private sessions and from 9 AM to 7 PM for public ones. The biggest waves hit at a ratio of 150 per hour and there is a maximum of just 9 people allowed for the expert sessions.
Typhoon Lagoon, Orlando, Florida
As you would expect from a Disney resort, Typhoon Lagoon has a little bit of everything, including a waterpark and rides. But the surf pool is where the action is, with 6-foot swells and accessibility for all ages.
You can expect to pay around $50 for all day access, but there are many discount options and multi-tickets to bring those prices down.
Skudin Surf at American Dream
Skudin Surf uses PerfectSwell technology and offers an indoor freshwater surf experience for all levels of surfer. The New Jersey resort charges between $1,800 and $2,100 for private group sessions and, at the time of writing, it seems to be closed to the public.
It also offers lessons and multi-day events for kids and adults and these tend to be much more affordable.
Planned Projects and More
The United States isn't the only country where you can catch big surf on artificial waves. In fact, all of the following pools can compete with US resorts for the honor of being called the "biggest and best":
- Siam Park, Tenerife, Canary Island
- Wadi Adventure, United Arab Emirates
- Eisbach, Munich, Germany
- Wavegarden Cove, Spain
- URBNSURF, Melbourne, Australia
- The Wave, Bristol, UK
- Sunway Lagoon, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Surf Snowdonia, Wales
In the near future, we might be adding some other US destinations to the list as there are a couple of big projects in production:
Kelly Slater Wave Pool
Champion surfer Kelly Slater founded the Kelly Slater Wave Company (KSWC) in 2007. In 2015, after many years of trying to master the perfect artificial wave, the company opened its first wave pool.
Located in Lemoore, California, the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch earned recognition as the best artificial wave in the world, although the only wave to access was via invitation by the World Surf League (which now owns a major stake in KSWC) or by dropping around $50,000 to rent it for a day.
Not exactly budget friendly.
In 2020, it was announced that the Kelly Slater Wave Resort would open at the base of Coral Mountain, near the popular Coachella festival. It will feature an 18-million-gallon wave pool and some of the biggest man-made waves in the world.
Construction on this $250 million resort began in early 2021 and it is slated to open sometime in 2020.
Cheyne Magnussen Surf Club, Palm Springs
Cheyne Magnussen and Kalani Robb planned to open the Surf Club in 2020, after receiving permission to renovate an old Wet ‘n Wild park. However, the opening has yet to materialize and it seems that the project may have struggled under the weight of the pandemic.
It is still in production, though, so watch this space for more information about the launch of this promising park.