Wave Pools & Wave Pool Tech

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Who said you need to be on the coast, or even on a body of water for that matter, to enjoy perfect waves for surfing?

Welcome to the age of the wave pool.

Wave pools optimized for surfing are relatively new, but given interest, money, and competition, wave pools for surfing are only getting better and growing faster.

Here’s the ultimate guide to wave pools and wave pool technology.

Remember to take the wave heights claimed by some of these wave pools with a grain of salt. Maybe a few grains of salt.

Wave Pools Around the World – A Quick Overview

Wave Pool Name Location Technology Access Price Wave Types Wave Frequency
Alaia BayValais, SwitzerlandWavegarden CovePlanned for 2020 – 2021Up to 6ft waves from mellow and mushy to barreling and fastCapable of up to 1,000 waves per hour
Big SurfTempe, ArizonaDesigned by Phil DexterPublic$34 Park Admission, surfing is available everyday from 5 to 6 pm.2ft to 4ft mushy lefts and rights – Think opening scene in North ShoreAbout 20 waves per hour
BSR Cable ParkWaco, TexasAmerican Wave Machines Perfect SwellPublic$60 to $90 per hourLefts and Rights, breaking over 30-60 yards, semi-hollow with air sections120-160 waves per hour
Disney’s Typhoon LagoonOrlando, FloridaMurphy’s WavesPublic$190 for lessons or $1,250 for a 3-hour private reservationFast lefts and rights that closeout quickly40 waves per hour
DSRT SURFPlam Desert, CaliforniaWavegarden CovePlanned for 2020 – 2021Up to 6ft waves from mellow and mushy to barreling and fastCapable of up to 1,000 waves per hour
Nland Surf ParkAustin, TexasKelly Slater Wave Co.TBDHollow, Clean Lefts and Rights, 2-6ft, breaking over 100 yards
Praia Da GramaFazenda, BrazilWavegarden CovePlanned for 2020Up to 6ft waves from mellow and mushy to barreling and fastCapable of up to 1,000 waves per hour
Rif010Rotterdam, NetherlandsWave Loch Surf LochTBDUp to 4ft to 10ft waves customizable to rider skill levelsCapable of up to 450 waves per hour
Siam WaveparkTenerife, Canary IslandsMurphy’s WavesPublic$52 to $880 for reservationsFast lefts and rights off a wall that closeout60 to 90 waves per hour
Sunway LagoonSelangor, MalaysiaMurphy’s WavesPublic$70 for park admission2-6ft lefts and rights that closeout within 30 yardsUp to 100 waves per hour
Surf LakesGold Coast, Queensland, AustraliaSurf LakesPlanned for Late 2021 to Early 2022Up to 7.5 foot faces in different types of waves ranging in difficulty from beginner to advancedCapable of up to 2,400 waves per hour
Surf Lakes Testing FacilityYeppoon, Queensland, AustraliaSurf LakesPrivateUp to 7.5 foot faces in different types of waves ranging in difficulty from beginner to advancedCapable of up to 2,400 waves per hour
Surf RanchLemoore, CaliforniaKelly Slater Wave Co.Private$33,000 – $55,000 per 8-hour SessionHollow, Clean Lefts and Rights, 2-6ft, breaking over 100 yards12-25 waves per hour
Surf SnowdoniaDolgarrog, Conwy, WalesWavegarden LagoonPublic$40 to $60 per hourLefts and Rights, clean open face, breaking over about 100 yards45 waves per hour
The WaveWashingpool Farm, Easter Compton, Bristol, UKWavegarden CovePublic$45 per hour without a lesson, $60 per two hours with a lesson2 to 6 ft lefts and rights of various shapes ranging from mushier, slower waves to clean barrels depending on the settingAbout 360 waves per hour
The WaveLee Valley, London, UKWavegarden CovePlanned for 2023Up to 6ft waves from mellow and mushy to barreling and fastCapable of up to 1,000 waves per hour
Turtle IslandSiheung, South KoreaWavegarden CovePlanned for 2020Up to 6ft waves from mellow and mushy to barreling and fastCapable of up to 1,000 waves per hour
UrbnSurfMelbourn, Victoria, AustraliaWavegarden CovePublic Opening scheduled 2020TBDUp to 6ft waves from mellow and mushy to barreling and fastUp to 1,000 waves per hour
UrbnSurfPerth, Western Australia, AustraliaWavegarden CovePlanned for 2021Up to 6ft waves from mellow and mushy to barreling and fastCapable of up to 1,000 waves per hour
Wadi AdventureAbu Dhabi, UAEMurphy’s WavesPublic$54 per hour for a public surf, $200 to $550 for private sessionsHalf rights and half lefts up to about 6 feet that start steep off the wall and then closeout30 to 60 waves per hour
Wave Garden Testing FacilityGipuzkoa, SpainWavegarden CovePrivateUp to 6ft waves from mellow and mushy to barreling and fastCapable of up to 1,000 waves per hour
Wavegarden ScotlandEdinburgh, ScotlandWavegarden CovePlanned for 2020 – 2021Up to 6ft waves from mellow and mushy to barreling and fastCapable of up to 1,000 waves per hour

Brief History of Wave Pools

While wave pools themselves and even wave pools for surfing have been around for quite some time, it really wasn’t until December 2015 when Kelly Slater shared the first clip of his Surf Ranch that the world at large really took notice.

Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch marks a new era of the wave pool where investment, technology, and interest have started to skyrocket.

While the Kelly Slater Wave Company is not the first, its arguably one of the best, and has certainly done a lot to shine a light on a new aspect of surfing.

You could consider the first “wave pools” to be the public swimming pools that have agitators, plungers, or paddles added to create waves in the water. Some of the early iterations include:

  • 1929: A public swimming pool in Munich, Germany created waves with big paddles located on the deep end wall.
  • 1939: A public swimming pool in Wembley, London added a machine to create small waves in the pool.

As wave pool technology slowly progressed over the years, surfing on a man-made wave became possible. Early surfable wave pools, some of which are still open and surfable today, include:

  • 1969: Big Surf in Tempe, Arizona opens as the United State’s first wave pool. It could generate mushy waves up to about 2-3 feet.

    Big Surf is the home break of Rick Kane from the 1987 classic North Shore.

    It’s still open today.
  • 1985: Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, Pennsylvania holds the worlds very first wave pool surf competition at the 1985 Inland Surfing Championships.
  • 1989: Typhoon Lagoon at Disney World in Orlando, Florida produces 2-3 foot waves.
  • 1993: The Sunway Lagoon in Selangor, Malaysia employs hydraulic pumps to create surfable waves up to 9 feet.
  • 1993: Ocean Dome in Miyazaki, Japan opens as the world’s largest indoor waterpark and produced some pretty decent waves until it was closed in 2007 and eventually demolished in 2017.

In 2005, Josema Odriozoloa and Karin Frisch founded Wavegarden with the goal of optimizing a man-made wave specifically for surfing.

This new type of technology really ushered in the surfing-focused era of wave pools that we find ourselves in today.

Leading Wave Pool Technologies

While you may have heard about tons of different planned or proposed wave pools popping up around the world, the technology that actually creates the waves boils down to a handful of companies.

The major wave pool engineering and development companies include:

  • American Wave Machines
  • Kelly Slater Wave Company
  • Murphy’s Waves
  • Surf Lakes
  • Surf Loch
  • Wavegarden

American Wave Machines

Founded in 2000 by Bruce McFarland, American Wave Machines created the PerfectSwell Technology that’s designed to mimic paddle-in surfing in the ocean as closely as possible.

PerfectSwell uses air-pressure to create ocean-like swells and waves in the wave pool.

The technology can adjust to desired wave size and shape to mimic certain conditions. Length of ride is influenced by the shape and size of the pool itself, and the technology claims to be able to generate up to 10 waves per minute, if desired.

The first wave pool using American Wave Machine’s PerfectSwell technology debuted at the BSR Surf Resort in Waco, Texas in 2018.

Kelly Slater Wave Company

The Kelly Slater Wave Company unveiled its wave pool technology in December 2015 with a video of Kelly Slater surfing the first wave there and speaking to its inception.

The technology that creates the long, barreling lefts and rights at the Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California is created by a hydrofoil that’s dragged down a track. The hydrofoil pushes the water and creates the wave.

There are a few different types of waves that the technology can create, including the 30-45 seconds perfect barrels as shown in many video clips of the Surf Ranch.

In 2018, the WSL held the Founders’ Cup of Surfing at the Surf Ranch – a team-based surf competition. The event returned in 2019 as the Freshwater Pro and the 8th stop on the CT.

Murphy’s Waves

Murphy’s Waves, a Scottish company, is the OG of wave pool technologies.

The company debuted its wave pool technology at the Typhoon Lagoon in Disneyworld in 1989.

Murphy’s Waves uses hydraulic pumps and chambers that displace water in the pool with gravity to create waves.

Wave shape, size, and quality is highly dependent on the shape, size, and geometry of the pool.

Murphy’s Wave pools has installed a lot of pools around the world. The most notable in terms of surf ability may be the Wadi Adventure Pool in United Arab Emirates.

Surf Lakes

Surf Lakes is an Australian wave pool company with the involvement of surfers Mark Occhilupo and Barton Lynch.

After working through funding and engineering challenges, the company tested its first prototype in 2018. While the technology produced the type of waves they hoped for, testing ceased after some more technical difficulties.

Dubbed as the 5-Wave System, Surf Lakes wave technology employs a large plunger-like machine that displaces water in the center of a pool and uses bathymetry on the bottom to influence the shape of the waves.

The system can produce a variety of different waves suited for different levels and styles of surfing simultaneously in all directions. The company claims the system is capable of produces up to 2,400 waves per hour.

Wavegarden

Wavegarden, founded in 2005, debuted its first surfable wave in 2011 with Surf Snowdonia in Wales, United Kingdom.

Today, the company has two wave pool technologies, the Wavegarden Lagoon and the Wavegarden Cove.

The Lagoon uses hydrofoil pulled down a track that can create long, open faced waves similar to that of the Kelly Slater Wave Company.

The Cove technology is aimed at improving on some of the challenges and drawbacks of the Lagoon’s hydrofoil. The Cove uses water displacement technology to create a variety of high quality, customizable waves at a rate of up to 17 waves per minute.

WaveLoch

WaveLoch was founded in the 1980s by Tom Lochtefeld and is best know for its standing wave technology, FlowRider and FlowBarrel that can be found at Wave Houses around the world.

WaveLoch’s wave pool technology, SurfLoch, utilizes a pneumatic air system to create waves. The technology claims to produce waves in the 4-6ft range with customization for wave height and shape at the rate of up to 1 wave every 8 seconds.

The first public location for the SurfLoch technology is planned for Rif010 , which will be built in one of canals in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Wave Pools Around the World

The technology behind surfable wave pools is certainly interesting, but what’s more interesting is actually surfing them.

Here is a list of some of the currently open and proposed/under-construction wave pools around the world.

Open Wave Pools

Big Surf – Tempe, Arizona, USA

  • Wave Pool Technology: Hydraulic water displacement and return system designed by Phil Dexter
  • Accessibility: Public, surfing available everyday from 5-6pm
  • Cost: $34 park admission
  • Wave Types: 2-4ft mushy lefts and rights. Think about the opening scene in North Shore.
  • Wave Frequency: About 20 waves per hour.
  • Website: https://bigsurffun.com/

BSR Cable Park – Waco, Texas, USA

  • Wave Pool Technology: American Wave Machines PerfectSwell
  • Accessibility: Public
  • Cost: $60-$90 per hour
  • Wave Types: Semi-hollow and walled left and rights known for air-sections breaking over 30-60 yards.
  • Wave Frequency: Up to 120 to 160 waves per hour
  • Website: https://www.bsrcablepark.com/bsr-surf-ranch/

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon – Disneyworld, Orlando, Florida, USA

  • Wave Pool Technology: Murphy’s Waves
  • Accessibility: Public
  • Cost: $190 for lessons or $1,2500 for a 3-hour private reservation with up to 25 guests
  • Wave Types: Fast lefts and rights that closeout quickly
  • Wave Frequency: Up to 40 waves per hour
  • Website: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/recreation/surf-lessons/

Siam Wavepark – Tenerife, Canary Islands

Sunway Lagoon – Selangor, Malaysia

  • Wave Pool Technology: Murphy’s Waves
  • Accessibility: Public
  • Cost: $70 for park admission
  • Wave Types: 2-6ft lefts and rights that closeout with 30 yards
  • Wave Frequency: Up to 100 waves per hour
  • Website: https://sunwaylagoon.com/attractions/water-park/

Surf Lakes Testing Facility – Yeppoon, Queensland, Australia

  • Wave Pool Technology: Surf Lakes
  • Accessibility: Private
  • Cost: –
  • Wave Types: Up to 7.5 foot faces in different types of waves ranging in difficulty from beginner to advanced
  • Wave Frequency: Capable of up to 2,400 waves per hour
  • Website: https://www.surf-lakes.com.au/yeppoon-2/

Surf Ranch – Lemoore, California, USA

  • Wave Pool Technology: Kelly Slater Wave Co.
  • Accessibility: Private
  • Cost: $33,000 to $55,000 per 8-hour session
  • Wave Types: Hollow, clean lefts and rights from 2-6 ft breaking over 100 yards
  • Wave Frequency: 12 to 25 waves per hour
  • Website: http://www.kswaveco.com/

Surf Snowdonia – Dolgarrog, Conwy, Wales, UK

  • Wave Pool Technology: Wavegarden Lagoon
  • Accessibility: Public
  • Cost: $40 to $60 per hour
  • Wave Types: Clean, open face lefts and rights breaking over about 100 yards
  • Wave Frequency: Up to 45 waves per hour
  • Website: https://adventureparcsnowdonia.com/surf-snowdonia/

The Wave – Washingpool Farm, East Compton, Bristol, UK

  • Wave Pool Technology: Wavegarden Cove
  • Accessibility: Public
  • Cost: $45 per hour without a lesson, $60 per two hours with a lesson
  • Wave Types: 2-6ft lefts and rights ranging from mushy, slower waves to clean, fast barrels
  • Wave Frequency: Up to 360 waves per hour
  • Website: https://www.thewave.com/

URBN Surf – Melbourn, Victoria, Australia

  • Wave Pool Technology: Wavegarden Cove
  • Accessibility: Public – Scheduled to open to public by end of 2019
  • Cost: TBD
  • Wave Types: 2-6ft lefts and rights ranging from mushy, slower waves to clean, fast barrels
  • Wave Frequency: Capable of up to 1,000 waves per hour
  • Website: https://urbnsurf.com/

Wadi Adventure – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  • Wave Pool Technology: Murphy’s Waves
  • Accessibility: Public
  • Cost: $54 per hour fo a public surf, $200 to $550 for private sessions
  • Wave Types: Half rights and half lefts up to about 6ft that start steep off the wall and then slow and closeout
  • Wave Frequency: Up to 30-60 waves per hour
  • Website: https://www.wadiadventure.ae/

Wave Garden Testing Facility – Gipuzkoa, Spain

  • Wave Pool Technology: Wavegarden Cove
  • Accessibility: Private
  • Cost: –
  • Wave Types: 2-6ft lefts and rights ranging from mushy, slower waves to clean, fast barrels
  • Wave Frequency: Capable of up to 1,000 waves per hour
  • Website: https://wavegarden.com/

Proposed & Planned Wave Pools

Alaia Bay – Valais, Switzerland

  • Wave Pool Technology: Wavegarden Cove
  • Expected Opening: 2020-2021
  • Website: https://alaia.ch/

DSRT SURF – Palm Desert, California, USA

NLand Surf Park – Austin Texas, USA

  • Wave Pool Technology: Kelly Slater Wave Co.
  • Expected Opening: TBD
  • Website: –

Praia Da Grama – Fazenda, Brazil

Rif010 – Rotterdam, Netherlands

Surf Lakes – Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

The Wave – Lee Valley, London, UK

Turtle Island – Siheung, South Korea

  • Wave Pool Technology: Wavegarden Cove
  • Expected Opening: 2020
  • Website:

URBN Surf – Perth, Wester Australia, Australia

Wavegarden Scotland – Edinburgh, Scotland

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