Chlorine Dream: The oft-overlooked wave pools including one that charges just $8 per hour

Here are the Top 10 wave pools you don’t think of when you plan a surf session…

What do you do if you’re on a layover in Orlando or Edmonton? You can go surfing. True, it won’t be the perfection of The Surf Ranch. But surfing, strange beast that it is, seems to be fun no matter what.

After Stab’s top ten wave pools piece, someone reached out and asked why “that one desert pool with Dion wasn’t included.” Yes, it is a wave pool. Yes, any pool lined with Eastern European models should always make some sort of list. But, in this case, it didn’t. Here’s why.

There was a time before surf-focused wave technology was a thing. While today’s wave pools 2.0 scream “amazing waves, come surf!” these first-generation pools told us in Comic Sans font to “Surf here, but only before and after normal swimming hours!” Not very romantic. Prosaic even. And we all know that surfing is poetry, not prose. In addition, the only excuse for using Comic Sans is a flyer for a child’s party.

So many of these wave tanks remain off-the-radar. True, most were built at a time when the entire ASP Top 16 sported mullets, but they are still there quietly pumping out rideable waves. Some even offer great surf (shout out to SkudinSurfAD!) Dig in and find a chlorine dream, quite possibly close to you..

Editor’s Note: This article is an update of our Top 5 chlorine surf spots available here. But, as you’ll see, a few things have changed out there.

Skudin Surf American Dream

Rob Kelly enjoying some quick ramps at SkudinSurfAD

The Lowdown: Multi billion dollar mega mall waterpark in line with the Mall of America in Edmonton, Canada. The surf component here is American Wave Machines Perfect Swell tech modeled after BSR Surf Resort (but indoors). The facility is run by New York surf legend Will Skudin and offers heaps of different waves on the menu. It’s a smaller facility but they really make it work.

Accessibility: Open to the public, All-ages with both public sessions and private sessions available.

Wave Generating Technology: American Wave Machines PerfectSwell technology.

Wave’s Technical Information: Performance wave with rights and lefts suited to all ability levels but super-customisable with fun perks like the Freak Peak. Surfers get to choose from a diverse wave menu with names that sound like theme park rides: The Party Wave, Rubber Ducky’s, Sinatra, and The Vortex. Rides are (relatively) short at only 3-8 seconds per ride.

What it costs to surf SkudinSurf American Dream PUBLIC SESSIONS: Public Sessions are run in 2-hour blocks in order to maximize both the experience and wave count. These sessions are formatted with wave types based on skill level, with the sessions being labeled either Option A, B, C, or D in ascending level of surfing ability. (Ex. A= Beginner Inside Whitewater; D= Advanced/Expert.) These sessions include a wave technician, instructors, surf caddy, water safety, and a complimentary board quiver.

One 2-hour public session is priced as follows:$99: Mon-Thurs mornings for Option A$195: Mon-Thurs mornings for Option B, C, and D sessions $125: Afternoons and weekends for Option A$250: Afternoons and weekends for Option B, C, and D sessions

What it costs to surf SkudinSurf American Dream PRIVATE SESSIONS: Can be booked in 1 hour or 2 hour blocks. These sessions are best for larger groups, events, or having your own private/personal session!  They include a cabana setup overlooking the pool (with snacks & drinks), a fully-customizable selection of waves for the group, and a customizable music playlist through our loudspeakers. These sessions also come with a wave technician, instructors, surf caddy, water safety, and use of our complimentary board quiver.

Current rates for Private Dream Sessions are:$1600 for 1 hour (up to 10 surfers)$3200 for 2 hours (up to 16 surfers)

Added Notes: Expect anywhere from 1-16 surfers in the lineup. With the ability to generate waves every 30 seconds, the wave-riding output can reach up to 240 rides per hour. Waves average 75-150 per session depending on whether they are split peaks or longer reeling waves. Pool is located just 15 minutes outside of Manhattan. Air and water temperatures hover at around 85 degrees during year-round operation. The group just launched a season-pass package deal that can be found on our website under “Public Sessions.”

Hours: Operational times fall between the mornings and afternoons/nights..Pool Structure: Indoor concrete

Waves per hour: 120-160

Apparel: Heated indoor setting, so boardies and bikinis

West Edmonton Surf Club

edmonton wave pool
Canadian Noah Cohen enjoying a trunk-able session while the snow piles up outside

The Lowdown: Surf Nights at the West Edmonton Mall allows newbies and advanced surfers a chance to session this indoor chlorinated wonder. All sessions are coordinated through the West Edmonton Surf Club. You can ask questions, join or sign up at the link. While the 5-second period swell would never be confused with the long walls of Lemoore, this wave pool sates the stoke of a hardcore crew in Canada who love nothing more than to session in trunks while the snow piles up outside.

Wave Technology: 1980s water drop system agitates swell into the shallows at 4-5 seconds apart.
Wave Size: 1-3ft and peaky, choppy. Waves come in sets about once a minute.

What it costs to surf Edmonton: Booked as “lessons” each 90-minute session costs $79. Lessons are usually offered once a week and capped at 10 people. After the lesson/orientation, anyone is welcome to come out to the surf club who typically get 2-4 sessions a week offered, usually at night. During the day, the wave pool is open to the general public. We get our chance to surf once the park closes.

Local Knowledge: Surf Club member Daniel Macyk says: “Depending on the day and time, it seems a typical session consists of 10-30 people. On quiet nights you can catch up to 50 plus waves. On busy nights it’s more in the 20-25 range.”

Vibe: Since it’s an indoor pool, the water is usually 25-28 (78-85F) degrees depending on how much sun shines through the large glass dome. Air temperature is typically set to 31C (90F) which makes it a nice relief from a snowy Canadian parking lot.

The Splash House

The Lowdown: Ben Gravy has called them “The most stoked surfers on earth.” This crew in Marion Indiana are incredibly enthusiastic about a small pool with frequent 1-2-foot waves. But, hey!, it’s the best thing around for hundreds of miles until you hit the Great Lakes to the north. The wave pool offers a handful of surf times for “experienced surfers only.” Beyond the surf there are water slides and all the amenities associated with a small town waterpark.

Wave Technology: Unknown

Wave Size: 1-2ft gentle unbreaking rollers with the occasional right peeler. Waves are consistent with 4-5second intervals

What it costs to surf Splash House: $8. Yup just $8 to surf with your friends for an hour during thier “Open Surf” sessions.

Hours: The wave pool is open Memo­r­i­al Day week­end until Labor Day. After the first week­end in August each year, they are only open on week­ends as they wind down for the season.

Surf Session Hours: Thursdays 6-7pm, Saturdays 9:30-10:30am and 6am-7pm.

Vibe: It’s the mid-west, so expect to hear Kid Rock and Bob Seger at those times when Indiana-grown Jackson 5 aren’t on the radio.

The Wave Palace at Siam Waterpark

The Lowdown: Boldly boasting “the biggest artificial waves in the world!” on their website, The Wave Palace at Siam Waterpark claims it can generate surf up to 9-feet high. There are heaps of wave pool surfing clips out there capturing some really fun looking sessions. To get some surf here you will need to email and suss out the details: [email protected] or call 902 06 00 00.

The pool has starred in a few surf videos, most notably a Volcom session with groms and rising UK star Lucy Campbell. But the most comprehensive clip that gives a real feel for the place is a Spanish bro-fest. The guys rented the pool and walk viewers through ten minutes of the Siam Park experience complete with high-fives and hoots.

The wave has been an Atlantic ocean secret spot hidden on an island of great natural surf. But it’s a solid destination for European wave pool hunters looking for something exotic in an already exotic location – the Canary Islands.

Accessibility: Reservation Process [email protected] or call 902 06 00 00

Wave Generating Technology: Murphy’s Waves

Wave’s Technical Information: Fast right and left off a steep wall that backs off before a dumping closeout on the shallows.

Hours of operation/Seasonal Hours: By reservation

Price Breakdown: For surfing after regular business hours, must call or email: [email protected] or call 902 06 00 00.

Prices estimated between $52.00-$880.00 – Kids under 6 free, special pricing kids 6-11, but not sure if that applies to surfing.

Pool Structure: Concrete Pool – Resort

Waves per hour: Unknown

Atmosphere: Family waterpark, but also a raving nightclub for private parties

Apparel: Spring suit, Bikini, Boardshorts

A Volcom marketing manager recounted the grom experience: “The place is like a forgotten land somewhere in the jungle, a neverland that does not exist. But it does!!! As you arrive to the pool, the quality and color of water remind me of the best exotic surf locations like Polynesia and Mentawis…Except that it is flat! All of the sudden a gong, then another one warn that the wave is coming…”

Wadi Adventure

The Lowdown: This is the wave made famous in Dion Agius’ “Electric Blue Heaven” clip. It’s a steep right or left off a wall that weakens a bit as it spreads out to the center of the pool. Dion and Globe hired models to frolic in the shallows during the shoot. But for most of us, a simple iPhone slow-mo will suffice. While not the wedging A-Frames of Waco, it’s still a great wave and plenty rip-able.

Accessibility: Reservation Process

Wave Generating Technology: Murphy’s Waves

Wave’s Technical Information: Fast right and left off a steep wall that backs off before a dumping closeout on the shallows.

Hours of operation/Seasonal Hours: By reservation

Price Breakdown: $18 park entry then $48 for each one-hour surf session. Six surfers maximum per session. Each surfer gets about six waves in the 60 minute session that is split with half rights and half lefts. V.I.P. style – the wave pool is open only for you and your friends $460 Private rental of the pool including personalised wave settings $400. Semi Private – private access to the advanced wave but not the near shore beginner waves $275.

Pool Structure: Concrete Pool – Resort

Waves per hour: Unknown

Atmosphere: Family waterpark, but also raving nightclub for private parties

Apparel: Spring suit, Bikini, Boardshorts

TripAdvisor review said: “Even though this wonderful picturesque oasis in the desert has a zip line, world class kayaking, I was there to ride the incredibly perfect man-made generated waves. The waves are 2 meters high and perfect, either a right break or a left break. The session is for up to 6 surfers at a time and lasts for 55 minutes. The wave does not tube, but it is consistently perfect each time.”

The Roaring Lagoon at Sun City – South Africa

The Lowdown: Another beautiful Murphy’s Waves setup with rip-able rights and lefts. However clear description of surfing rates and access to the park for surfing are a bit opaque. Sun City’s water park is family-focused with surfing kept at a distance. It uses Murphy’s Waves technology to produce a quick right or left with a closeout in the shallows. The pool is smaller than some of the other Murphy’s designs around the world coming in at 6,500 square meters. Well-suited to diminutive surfers due to its size, the wave pool, like others, is open to surfing during rental windows. Best option is to find some other chlorine-curious brus and hire the pool after swimming hours.

Accessibility: Open to the public, All-ages, Beginning surfer, Intermediate surfer, Advanced surfer

Type of wave(s): Combination

Wave Generating Technology: Murphy’s Waves

Wave’s Technical Information: Wave height: 2-4 ft, Both Left and Right Breaks, Length of Wave: under 30 yards/metersHours of operation/Seasonal Hours: Summer: 09h00 – 18h00 Summer (September to April) Gates open at 09h00 and close at 17h00. Water features shut down at 17h30. Winter: 10h00 – 17h00 Winter (May to August) Gates open at 10h00 and close at 16h00. Water features shut down at 16h30. The Valley of Waves closes for a month between May and July for annual maintenance. The Valley of Waves may be closed or close early due to private functions on an ad-hoc basis.Price Breakdown: Sun City Resort residents: Free. Adults R120 R160, Children (Ages 4–12 yrs) R70 R85, Senior Citizens R60 R65. No specific surfing information is available, but all the clips and Insta posts suggest the pool, like other wave pools worldwide, can be rented before and after swimmer hours.

Pool Structure: Concrete pool, resort

Waves per hour: Hydraulic Murphy’s system that generates 6-foot-high waves every 90 seconds

Atmosphere: Family environment

Apparel: Spring suit, Bikini, Boardshorts

Sunway Lagoon

The Lowdown: Swimmer-focused wave pool that has limited surfing hours, like many other waterpark attractions. It’s best known for Taj Burrow’s clip in “Fair Bits” when the crew added a jet ski to help gain enough speed to launch airs.

The best wave pool surfing in Malaysia is here. The park opened in 1993 and added the wave pool, known as Surf Beach in 1997. It has hosted several specialty surf events including the Quiksilver Revolution Tour in 2006 and 2008 which featured both surf and skate team riders putting on a show.

Julian Wilson, Dane Reynolds and Ry Craike (all no longer with Quik) surfed to live bands while the skate team lit up the halfpipe. Due to the wave’s slow nature, the event employed a jet ski to whip the surfers into the waves for extra aerial boost.

It’s still a fun wave for surfing, a burger left and right with a fast end section suited for boosting, with or without the jet ski assist. Now it’s also Nickelodeon-themed, therefore if you love Spongebob you’re in luck.

WavePool Construction Progress: Open

Accessibility: Reservation Process [email protected] or call + 30 902 06 00 00

Type of wave(s): WhiteWaterWest

Wave Generating Technology: WhiteWaterWest

Wave’s Technical Information: Fast right and left off a steep wall that backs off before a dumping closeout on the shallows. Mainly white water and softer non vertical waves which is great for longboards. Shortboarders might want some jets assistance.

Hours of operation/Seasonal Hours: Wave pool is open to surfing from 6pm-7pm weekends and holidays and by reservation only.

Price Breakdown: For surfing after regular business hours, must call or email: [email protected] or call +30 902 06 00 00. Prices estimated between $52.00-$880.00 – Kids under 6 free, special pricing kids 6-11, but not sure if that applies to surfing. Email for more details: [email protected]

Pool Structure: Concrete Pool – Resort.

Waves per hour: 11-100.

Apparel: Boardies and bikinis.

Typhoon Lagoon

The Lowdown: Perhaps the most well-known wave pool surfing facility (pre-Kelly Slater Surf Ranch). This spot is a longstanding venue for VIP parties during Orlando’s Surf Expo. Typhoon Lagoon has also hosted several US amateur training programs and even a Quiksilver King of the Groms event in 2010.

Built in 1989 the park’s wave machine produces a fast right or left on takeoff followed by a mushy shoulder that backs off until the wave closes out on the inside bar. In short, it’s like 95 percent of real world beach breaks.

But the wave’s potential is there. Small and light-footed surfers with higher volumed boards (like Quiksilver’s groms) will get the most use here. You’ll need to rent the park before or after standard operating hours if you want to surf.

The pool generates roughly one 6-foot-wave every 90 seconds, a burgery right and left off the deep end that rushes into a closeout on the inside bar. (Be careful many reviewers complained of getting scraped on the pool bottom.) Typhoon Lagoon offers Surf School lessons and the water park can be rented out for private surfing.

WavePool Construction Progress: Completed in 1989

Accessibility: Open to paying public

Type of wave(s): Lefts and rights, fast on the takeoff with a sloping shoulder and an inside closeout.

Wave Generating Technology: Whitewater West

Technical Information: 2.5 acres in size with 3 million gallons of water.

Hours of operation/Seasonal Hours: Open year-round 10 am-5 pm but no surfing during those hours.

Price Breakdown: $165 for lessons. No price listed for free surf. Park admission is $65 for 1-day pass. There are surf lessons before the park opens and after it closes. Space is extremely limited but you can make surfing reservations online at the link below. Each 3-hour session comes with 100 waves – broken into sets of 25. The renter gets to choose the wave settings.

Pool Structure: Beware of the surface of the pool bottom which has a textured, almost abrasive surface and acts like a chees grater if you scrape along the bottom (they recommend water shoes for visitors.)

Waves per hour: New wave every 90 seconds, or 40 waves per hour

Atmosphere: Family, Disney environment

Apparel: Spring suit, Bikini, Boardshorts

Honorable mention: Seagaia Ocean Dome – Miyazaki Japan

This first generation wave pool had some great wave pool surfing potential when the controllers cranked the nobs up to 11. A mid-2000s clip of then super groms Owen Wright and Julian Wilson became somewhat mythical in status.

It was the world’s first glimpse into good surf in a wave pool. The wave itself resembles the wedges of the BSR Surf Ranch in Waco. Because this chlorinated wave pool was not designed specifically for surfing, recorded sessions are rare.

Opened in 1993, this indoor waterpark in Miyazaki was part of a sprawling Sheraton resort. The waterpark peaked in popularity in the nineties and was scuttled in 2007 to make way for renovations. The roof above the Hawaiian themed beach and pool was retractable but mostly remained closed to maintain water and air temps in the mid-80s.

Status: Closed

Season: Still Totally Closed and now we’re sad

Contact: Closed! No. No. Damn! We Miss Ocean Dome!

Prices: Still Closed. But we’ll pay anything for a chance to surf Ocean Dome!

Big Surf Arizona

RIP Big Surf

Now closed for good, items were auctioned off in 2022. You can take a tear-filled nostalgic tour through the magic pen of Neil Armstrong as he talks to several surfers who grew up at the world’s best-known wave pool.
Wave Generating Technology: WaveTek wave system by ADG

Wave’s Technical Information: Wave height: 2-4 ft, Both Left and Right Breaks after a giant closeout. Length of
Wave: roughly 30 yards/meters. The wave comes through about every four minutes and riders are required to wait their turn.

Hours of operation/Seasonal Hours: May – September including some holidays. Surfing is open Mon-Sat 9-10 am and 5-6 pm with some Sundays.

What it once cost to surf Big Surf: $349.95 for a season surf pass. Price grants access to Waikiki Beach Wave Pool for each evening session. If you want the morning session it’ll set you back $5 for each surf (in addition to the season pass). Season surf pass available for ages 13 and up.

Atmosphere: Aging waterpark with a family environment

Apparel: Your best black suit to mourn the passing of this legend

Post Script: OK, so you notice the last two wave pools now literally rest in pieces. This is the biggest indicator of the seismic shift in the wave pool landscape. The biggest and baddest of yesteryear lost their sparkle (or had major cost overruns) while new, thriving wave creation technologies came to life. But these chlorinated dreams seeded the idea that the Wavegardens, Surf Lakes, Endless Surf and others found so appealing, and ultimately do-able.