If you have always yearned to catch a wave but worry about the unpredictable and often turbulent ocean waves — or maybe you’re still traumatized by “Jaws” — a wave pool could be your sweet spot. Learning to surf in a safe, controlled environment has its perks. And the demand for wave pools for all levels of surf enthusiasts seems to be growing.
Read on to hear about two new developments scheduled to open soon, plus established wave pool favorites around the U.S.—all worth checking out on your next surf vacation.
Palm Springs Surf Club
Palm Springs, CA
Opening this year
Out in the California desert near the Palm Springs Airport, the Palm Spring Surf Club nears its belated opening with the help of Hawaiian pro surfer Kalani Robb and Pono Partners.
After revamping a defunct water park and an enormous old wave pool not far from the Palm Springs Airport, this spot will once again have simulated ocean waves. Pro surfer Cheyne Magnusson, who also helped design the popular BSR Wave Park in Waco, TX, is on board as the in-house advisor.
Michael Brown with San Diego-based SurfLoch Technologies and founder Tom Lochtefeld are both excellent surfers who have a keen understanding of waves and what makes a good one. After a lot of research and experimentation, they have developed a system that uses the same tool nature does to form waves – air.
Canon Beach Revel Surf Park
Mesa will soon be home to a 37-acre surf, shop, gym, and multi-use development project called Cannon Beach Revel Surf Park. Revel Surf will anchor the development with a 3.3-acre surf lagoon that features the world’s first Swell MFG’s Traveling Surf Technology and UNIT Surf Pool’s Stationary Rapid Surf Technology, in one location. This unique combination will create a more natural surfing lineup with a peak wave rather than a right- or left-session-only option, as found in many of today ’s wave pools. This new technology and layout has gained the attention of the professional surf community for its ability to cater to all skill levels. Look for a mid-2024 opening.
Kelly Slater Surf Ranch
Thanks to a team of international scientists, engineers, and designers, pro surfer Kelly Slater saw his vision for creating a true best-in-class ocean surfing experience come to life at an exclusive resort just outside of Fresno.
More than a decade ago, Slater shared his vision of a perfect, barreling, human-made wave with Adam Fincham, a professor at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering and expert in fluid dynamics.
After years of development, the wave was produced using a one-of-a-kind hydrofoil that cuts through the water at an exact speed, angle, and depth, which, when combined with a precisely positioned bottom contour (or reef), creates beautifully formed high-performance waves.
The six-foot barreling wave travels more than 2,300 feet, yielding up to minute-long rides and is the first of its kind. Plus, the wave can be controlled to allow a wave riding experience for surfers of all skill levels.
BSR Surf Resort
BSR Surf Resort is operated by American Wave Machines (AWM) who developed PerfectSwell, a technology that pumps air into the water. Each ride lasts between 10 and 15 seconds, but these rides have been compared to the closest experience to a real ocean wave.
Powered by PerfectSwell, Waco Surf is a popular wakeboard cable and water park destination, open through December 2023 for 90 minute private pro lessons in the surf lagoon. The wetlands water park (which includes water slides and a lazy river) will be closed until May of 2024, so plan accordingly if you want to experience all this location has to offer. The good news: they also have a hotel on site which includes access to ‘stay and surf’ so you can make it a complete family vacation.
East Rutherford, NJ
Skudin Surf at American Dream, located just outside New York City, offers private sessions with ‘the dream team.’ Professionals can bring their own equipment and waves range from one to five feet depending on skill level.
Located inside Disney World in Florida, Typhoon Lagoon, offers a variety of family water sports including surf lessons. Each three-hour session includes 100 waves that are broken into sets of 25. During the private surf sessions, you can even choose the direction of your waves. And you can capture the moment from an ESPN Wide World of Sports Gameday Photographer who will capture action shots of you shredding waves.
For international destinations, check out Wavegarden—one of the most popular wave pools in the world. The brand operates six international surf parks including pools in Brazil, Switzerland, South Korea, Melbourne, and Wales, with more pools in development across 5 continents.