Are Wave Pools Changing the Face of Surf Travel?


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Updated 292d ago

Words by Ben Bryant

Surfers have a natural affinity with travel, constantly seeking new surf experiences both at home and abroad. Alongside the never-ending search for the next best session comes the opportunity to explore far-flung destinations, discover unique cultures and witness natural beauty along the way.

Traditionally, the nature of a surf trip ties the travelling surfer to coastlines around the world. But with inland wave pools now popping up all over the globe, there's a possibility of unlocking new surf destinations. Landlocked countries, or wave-starved regions that would otherwise have little draw for the hardcore surfer, suddenly present a unique opportunity.

Let’s take a look at some of the more unusual man-made surf destinations that you might consider for your next surf trip.

Alaia Bay, Switzerland

Ever thought about surfing amongst the peaks of the Swiss Alps? Powered by Wavegarden’s Cove technology, it brings surfing to one of the most unlikely locations on the planet. You can explore this stunning region by bike or on foot between surf sessions, and in winter it’s possible to combine surfing and snow-sports on the same day.

Wadi Adventure, Dubai

At one time probably the best wave pool in the world, is now one of the older facilities around. It uses pneumatic technology to generate waves in the desert just outside Dubai. The park shot to fame in 2012 with the release of the flick Electric Blue Heaven, featuring Dion Agius.

American Wave Machines, East Rutherford, New Jersey and Waco, Texas

Want to go surfing in a mall? Well, here you go. Just a short drive from downtown New York, and buried deep inside the multi-billion dollar American Dream Mall, you will find Skudin Surf. Utilising AWM’s PerfectSwell technology, it’s a scaled down version of the pool found at the Waco in Texas—another location not typically associated with surfing—and offers an impressive 14 wave types to choose from. Home to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, the city that never sleeps is just a stone’s throw away.

Wave Park, South Korea

On the outskirts of Seoul, just a few kilometres from the border with North Korea, you will find Wave Park, the biggest and most powerful Wavegarden Cove installation to date. The pool offers 20 different wave settings as well as illuminated night surfing sessions. The centre of the vibrant South Korean capital is within easy reach.

The Wave, Bristol, UK and Surf Snowdonia, Wales

As the location for the first commercial installation of the modern wave pool era, the UK is now on track to become the wave pool capital of the world. With both Wales’ Surf Snowdonia and Bristol’s The Wave already in operation, there are currently plans for a further nine facilities in various stages of approval. The majority of these pools will be powered by Wavegarden’s Cove technology; however, plans being drawn up for The Lagoon in Bournemouth and Surf X in the Midlands will use the impressively bonkers Surf Lakes system. Expect to see UK wave pool road trips and how-many-wave-pools-can-I-surf-in-a-day type videos emerging in the coming years. Which brings us neatly on to...

Surf Lakes, Yeppoon, Australia

That aforementioned tech touted for the UK? It's already in existence in Australia and endorsed by Occy, this over-sized plunger rifles out a whole range of waves in a Mad Max-esque setting. It's probably one of the most radical designs out there -- and capable of producing 2,000 waves an hour. Apparently.

Will a wave pool ever be able to compete with the beauty of the ocean or the thrill of scoring perfect waves generated by nature? Probably not. But with plans to develop new locations in Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, Israel, Canada, Paris, Berlin, London, New York and Madrid to name but a few, the potential for surfers to explore more of the globe and immerse themselves in new cultures is real. This begs the question; What really is a 'surf destination', and where on earth will we be surfing next?