2023 Guide to Waco Surf
The first accessible wave pool in America, Waco Surf has a storied chapter in the history of surf tanks. At first, a bit of an anomaly it was an add on to a wakeboarding cable park. Today the pneumatic wave system pumps out surf for a core, dedicated Texas crew as well as visiting surfers from across the globe.
Read this guide or scroll to the bottom of the page where everything is covered in a four-minute video clip from the WavePoolMag YouTube channel.
If you’re planning a trip to Waco Surf, Austin is the closest major airport, just 90 minutes away. However, for added convenience, American Airlines offers flights to Waco airport (ACT) from various locations across the US. Waco itself is a fascinating microcosm of modern-day America, where you can savor a hand-crafted cup of artisan coffee while enjoying the shade of a Christian billboard promising eternal salvation.
Waco Surf underwent a change in ownership two years ago, and the new crew has done an excellent job of transforming it from a Wild West outpost of surfing into a carefully curated surf experience with great lodging and amenities. Check out our podcast with owners David Taylor and Mike Schwaab.
Waco offers sessions for all abilities throughout the day. On average you’ll find a couple beginner Coaster sessions, and a handful of intermediate Runner hours. The Advanced Peak sessions are the most popular while the park also offers a few 90-minute pro sessions. The pro sessions offer a point wave, wedge/barrel wave and an air wave. The air wave is what you see on your favorite pro’s instagram feed, but it is also a great floater wave for surfers with more modest skill levels.
Waco Surf have a large rental fleet on site featuring Lost x Lib Tech, Firewire Artificial Wave Technology, and Lost Black Sheep Construction designs to rent. Prices are $35 per hour per hour with each additional hour just $10. You can also insure your board to avoid a charge in case you slam it into the concrete bottom of the pool.
BOOKING YOUR SESSION
Surf sessions are in high demand. When new sessions are first listed on the website, priority is given first to private session bookings, followed by guests utilising the on site Surf N Stay program and then finally public bookings.
Waco Surf has 13 hotel rooms on site including 2 suites available at the wave pool, as well as cabins on the property which range in size from 2-to-14 person capacity. There are even a couple houses on site to accommodate larger groups who want more privacy.
Shoulder season food options include the Surfside taco shack and the Star Bar upstairs, which is open to lodging guests. During high season mid-May to mid-September there’s additionally The Wedge Grill burger shack, Lakeside Saloon with full restaurant and The Dive Bar – a swim up pool bar overlooking the waves. This is when Waco Surf is a crazy busy destination where the property sees local visitors coming to enjoy the waterpark portion of the resort.
While so much media is focused on the sexiness of Waco Surf’s wave, it’s easy to miss that this is a huge, revamped ranch. There’s a cable park and perhaps the world’s most perfect lazy river. It’s often touted as the “world’s longest” and snakes around the wave basin through the property. But it’s the Wedge Slide that attracts the most attention beyond the surf, it’s a lightning fast drop and fling severe enough to require life jackets. To mellow out try the pool on the far end of the beach and you can enjoy the swim up bar.
And if you take a jog around the Waco Surf facility and you’re likely to see lemurs, country cats, Longhorn Cattle and the occasional armadillo.
- Try the Spam tacos at the taco shack for breakfast
- Call ahead to get inventory on which boards are available to rent
- The lifeguards and surf Marshalls are there to help, so ask questions
- Before your session, talk to the other surfers in your session to coordinate priority
- To ensure you get the session you want, book a hotel room on site, or check the website as early as possible
- Waco Surf’s photography and videography services have set the gold standard for surf parks. Use them.
Accessibility: Open to the public, All-ages, Beginner surfer, Intermediate surfer, Advanced surfer, and now they’ve added Pro surfer options. Reservations for surf sessions and digital waivers are required, as well as showing up an hour before your session.
Wave Generating Technology: American Wave Machines PerfectSwell
Wave’s Technical Information: Both Left and Right Breaks, Length of Wave: 30-60 yards/meters, Semi-hollow to hollow and performance-oriented. 80-90 seconds between sets on standard wave settings, and 90-120 seconds between sets on specialty wave settings.
Hours of operation/Seasonal Hours: During off-peak times the surf park usually runs 8am-6pm. During peak season they run waves most days 6am-11pm.
What it costs to surf Waco:
The Coaster: Beginner Session $89-129+tax for one hour, 30 mins of left and 30 mins of right. Includes soft top/foam surfboard rental for the session. Add Beginner Academy out of water 1 hour lesson prior to surf session for $49-59+tax.
The Runner: Intermediate session $109-149+tax for one hour, 30 mins of left and 30 mins of right.
The Peak: Advanced session $119-159+tax for one hour, 30 mins of left and 30 mins of right.
The Point, The Ramp and The Wedge: Pro Sessions $299-$369+tax for the 90 minute session, starting with Advanced and moving into the barrel and air section waves previously only offered to private surf guests. Each 90-minute session is left OR right.
Private sessions start at $1,750+tax/hour in the off season and can be booked up to 8 hours consecutively.
They also offer all-day beach club passes to hang out and watch the action at $19+tax.
Hard/Performance surfboard rentals are $35+tax for the first hour and $10+tax/additional hour.
Optional $35+tax insurance fee which covers all damage done to the board.
Foam/Soft top surfboard rentals are $25+tax for the first hour and $10+tax/additional hour.
Pool Structure: Concrete lagoon facility with sand added on beach area.
Waves per hour: 120-160 (depending on setting)
Atmosphere: Laid-back surf resort vibe with tacos and beers.
Apparel: Mostly boardshorts and bikinis. 3/2 fulls and spring suits for fall. 4/3 and accessories for winter.
Other questions: Email the team at email@example.com