Artificial waves have reached the point where they are no longer a novelty attraction overlooked by serious surfers seeking serious surf. The sport has turned its gaze to wave pool surfing and the activity is fast becoming a leading training tool with man-made waves across the world. Innovations are on the horizon like an incoming set of breakers, with each one comes new possibilities and sick realities. Today, most wave pool surfing exists in theme parks and cruise liners. But very soon, artificial waves will be their own attraction, bringing surfers for one thing only.
Here are seven of the world’s best wave pool surfing spots.
Wave House, San Diego
A town that is known for its surf and surf culture ought to be home to one of the finest wave pool surfing spots in the world. And it is. San Diego’s Wave House holds a 10-foot monster man-made wave called Bruticus Maximus. This maximally brutal behemoth is a flowboarding wave—it uses a fast-moving sheet of water over a wave-shaped surface to create surf-able conditions, rather than push a wall of water the way some wave machines do. The water shoots out at 30 miles per hour, pumping 100,000 gallons of water every minute.This barreling wave was modeled after legendary Hawaiian reef break Bonzai. The revolutionary design of this wave and others that use the same technology has spawned a new mode of riding waves—flowboarding—largely because it’s impossible to ride a normal sized surfboard on its face. Much smaller boards, similar to wakeboards and about the size of skateboards, are used instead. By using small, light boards, the riders are able to flip their boards, essentially doing skateboard tricks on water.
Sunway Lagoon, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s Sunway Lagoon is competing with some of the world’s most incredible surf breaks in Southeast Asia. With the intricate, artistic detailing on the pool walls and scenic views of Malaysia serving as a backdrop, the lagoon is as beautiful as it is functional. The video is an ode to the incredible and constant waves that the pool produces as well as the the relaxing, almost spiritual experience of surfing.
Wave Garden, Basque Country
The Wave Garden promises to be the cutting edge of artificial wave design, but the world won’t know for sure until they roll out some waves for public use. At the moment, only one wave has been seen by the world, and only in videos of surfers who have visited the manufacturer’s wave pool in Basque Country. But from the looks of it, the wave machines they are already building, and will keep building, produce curls and barrels of legendary proportions. Rumor has it that the machines can create completely customizable waves that vary in height from about a foot to over head-height.
Even more incredible, the waves have been shown to flow for one-and-a-half-miles when not obstructed by a beach or other obstacle. To achieve this endless summer effect, the machines can be installed in lakes or reservoirs. Surfers who have sampled the prototype wave say it is the closest approximation to a true ocean wave that man has constructed. In this video, Keith Malloy surfs the wave at about 2 or 3 feet in height. From the looks of it, this wave holds immense promise for millions of landlocked surfers around the world and anyone who is on the bad end of poor weather.
Typhoon Lagoon, Disneyworld
Yeah, it is in Disneyworld. But the happiest place on earth can also be a rather happy place for surfers without good surf. The wave at the Typhoon Lagoon would make any local Hawaiian, Californian and Australian surfers proud with its consistent, chest-high waves complete with glassy faces and gentle curl. Every 90 seconds the wave machine lets loose a wall perfectly rideable surf that muscles through a pool twice the size of Olympic swimming pool.
Wadi Adventure Wave, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates
What could be better than a desert oasis that has its own gnarly wave? The Wadi Adventure Wave in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, is just that. This wave pool creates a tightly curling 4-foot wave that makes a dreamy playground for boogie boarders and surfers. The smooth yet feisty wave has plenty of power for surfers and boogie boarders to huck backflips and pull off other stunts with an incredible regularity that imperfect and inconsistent ocean waves rarely ever allow.
Siam Park de Tenerife, Canary Islands
The Siam Park de Tenerife, located near the coast of Morocco in the Canary Islands, would have to offer some pretty amazing surf to be of interest. After all, , some of the world’s best surf, and probably the most reliable and surf-friendly in all of Europe, is in nearby Spain and Portugal. Fortunately, the man-made wave pool hosts a break that can easily compete with many of the best waves that break on Spain’s shores.
Waimea River, Hawaii
The wave at mouth of the Waimea River goes a long way to proving there is always surf in Hawaii—even when there is no surf. Every few months, local band together and bust out shovels to dig a small canal connecting the Waimea River to the ocean. In the process, they create a fast flowing channel that comes complete with several standing waves. At first, little groms boogie board on the diminuitive waves, but eventually the flow grows so strong that surfers can ride it. And when they fall, as seen in this video, they receive a Class-A Hawaiian wipe out.
If you’re looking for more wave pool surfing stories, videos and events, check out some of the great content on the Surf Park Central wave pool surfing blog or the American Wave Machines YouTube page.