First Person: Waco, think Tiger King meets Endless Summer
My name is Max Emerson and I’m a mid-level surfer whose been lucky enough to cobble a career out of making my internet life look more glamorous than it really is. About a million Instagram followers is plenty to support a chronic travel (and surfing) addiction. As a result, I’ve been fortunate enough to paddle out in places like Hawaii, Australia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Portugal and even Japan.
…Who would have thought my favorite wave would be a ranch on the outskirts of Waco, Texas?
I was helping my little brother Colin drive home to Florida from the west coast last week when we decided a trip to BSR Surf Resort was worth a few hours’ detour. Having grown up in Vero Beach, Florida (about 1 hour below Cocoa Beach), we expect any swell over two feet to be coming from a hurricane and accompanied by 15-30 knot winds. Over the past decade Colin and I would exchange articles about wave pools and what tech was coming out. It wasn’t until after we both moved to California that Typhoon Lagoon in Orlando decided to upgrade their wave pool to something even remotely rideable. The idea of perfect barrels on demand seemed to be getting closer and closer.
With all of this in mind, here is my review of our experience at BSR Surf Ranch:
This being our first time at a wave pool, there was an irrational fear that I might get sucked into an intake and never be heard from again. It takes a moment to figure out the timing, since the water flows differently from what you’d expect out in the ocean. From my understanding, this is one of the first wave pools. Although mostly quiet on the surface, you could hear its massive machinery clunking away when submerged below water. We booked an expert session, which provided a beautiful little barrel about midway through the wave. We were absolutely blown away and left the park planning how to find an investor to help us build our own wave pool somewhere closer to home.
The grounds at BSR Surf Ranch look like someone’s eccentric uncle inherited a bunch of oil money and decided to build Texas’ answer to New Jersey’s Action Park (AKA “Class Action Park”). It’s really out in the middle of nowhere, but when you arrive it feels like you’ve stumbled on something very special. Think Tiger King meets Endless Summer. They rent solid quality boards, although pretty dinged up from the bottom of the pool. Pack a wetsuit during cold months!
Since this was a last minute thing, we were not prepared for a surf trip. Everyone was wearing full suits and had flown in their boards. Being so late in November, going in bareback probably bought us a bit of patience from the regulars as we learned pool etiquette. We couldn’t tell if surfers here are usually friendly or if they were just grateful to be doing something safe and social during a pandemic. Regardless, the stereotype of Texans being friendly prevailed. Everyone was helpful in explaining wave rotation and were quick to offer tips. Our constant victory-hooting didn’t seem to annoy anyone too much.
BSR Surf Resort has single-handedly made it worth moving to Waco, Texas. I highly recommend the pilgrimage to check out these little barrels. I’ll definitely be going back in the warmer months to go ham on the rest of the park’s summer features.
Editor’s Note: Max Emerson is a writer, director, ‘live meme’ and the personality behind the @maxisms Instagram account. If you want to know more about surfing at BSR, check our other reviews here and here.