Can I learn to surf in a wave pool? Yes. Easily

From fear of sharks to saltwater allergies, we all have our reasons for learning to surf in a wave pool. The most common one? “I don’t live near a beach.”

Learning to surf in a wave pool is one of the quickest ways to advance. Students can learn the basics in a controlled environment.

“Some people fall in love with the place just feeling safe, consistency of waves, guaranteed waves,” says wave pool surf instructor Jo Dennison. “Some surfers that started out as complete beginners are now cruising on the advanced wave.”

Likewise, although it may not look like it on the surface, there’s more to wave pool surf than first appears. Waves can vary from one day to the next. A good wave pool surf instructor will know their pool’s waves intimately and share this knowledge to help you advance.

father and son wave pool surfing
Wavegarden’s Cove technology features easy learner waves that gently roll into the “Bay” section

“It still has a low tide and a high tide,” added Dennison of her time at Surf Snowdonia. “There is natural water loss through evaporation and spillage, obviously there is a water level we keep between however, sometimes the water level is higher and sometimes lower. If you surf it enough you can tell by the way the waves break.”

What you won’t learn in a wave pool are ocean tides, swell interval, bathymetry, rip currents and more. All the little pieces of knowledge that when put together make a complete surfer. However, mastering surfing basics in a wave pool will give you an upper hand once the other natural elements come into play. And if you choose to keep your surfing unsalted, that works too.

Best wave pool for learning to surf: That’s easy. There are currently only three. But with Wavegarden and Surf Lakes technology including beginner breaks in their designs, the best pools to learn to surf in could jump from three to 20 in the next few years.

Check out our guide to a handful of wave pools you can learn to surf in today.

Snowdonia Adventure Parc

The world’s first surf-specific wave pool offers lessons to anyone over the age of five as well as groups and special stag and hen parties.

Time: Surf lessons pricing depends on whether you session at peak times or off-peak times. Off-peak times are Sundays from 4pm until the end of the day Thursday outside of holidays. Peak pricing runs Friday morning through most of the day Sunday. Prices listed below are off-peak.

Prices: Beginner lessons start at £50 for adults and £40 for children. Beginner lessons run 90 minutes and include instruction and surfboard. Wetsuit rental is an additional £6 (The water is cold so you’ll need it!)

Snowdonia also offers one-day beginner surf courses. The courses are composed of two 90-minute sessions with a lunch break in between. Guests can also book a beginner wave session for £35.

“All wave sessions start with a short safety briefing in our surf academy followed by approx. 55 minutes in the lagoon,” says Snowdonia. “You can expect to catch up to 18 whitewater beginner waves per session.”

They recommend taking at least one beginner lesson before booking a session into the beginner wave time slot.

For the full package, aspiring surfers can lock into three-day learner programs. This course offers dry-side tutorials on SmoothStar surf skate trainers and includes wetsuit hire and Softech surfboard. Pricing for this full package is £250.

Details here at Snowdonia Adventure Parc

Big Surf Arizona

The original wave pool, Arizona’s Big Surf offers surf lessons under the blazing desert sun. Their school offers a three-to-one instructor ratio and classes are limited to 12 students per course with each tailored to the learning surfer’s water skills. Students must be over the age of eight. The wave pool boasts that all of their instructors are experienced Big Surf locals and know the wave intimately.

Lessons start with 30 minutes of dry land training on the first morning of the two-day course. Then students get one hour of wave pool training and free surfing. The second day follows the same pattern as the first-day schedule.

Pricing runs $149 plus tax and includes surfboard rental and park pass for both days. You won’t need a wetsuit because the wave pool is in the middle of the desert and operates during summer hours. Bring your sunblock.

Details here at Big Surf

Typhoon Lagoon

Learning to surf at Typhoon Lagoon also requires learning another surf skill: the dawn patrol. Florida’s most famous wave pool offers lessons only on select days at hours before the park opens for the non-surfing public.

Disney states that their wave pool surf instructors are pros. Their individual attention and advice are well-suited for both those starting from scratch as well those needing intermediate pointers on technique.

Basic courses include dry land tutorials followed by taking the plunge on soft-top beginner boards. Perks include breakfast and a digital photographer to capture your experience. Students must be eight years or older and only 12 students are allowed per session. Classes run 2.5 hours and include all equipment. Lessons start at $190 per person.

Unfortunately, you can’t just roll up to Typhoon Lagoon and lock into a surf lesson. The park warns that space is extremely limited for all surf options (including after hour sessions) and that visitors must book ahead of time.

Details here at Typhoon Lagoon

Chances are more land-locked surfers will be learning paddling and pop up technique in the coming years thanks to Wavegarden and Surf Lakes technologies. The Wavegarden Cove currently has projects in the planning stages at 20 locations globally and Surf Lakes has about a dozen worldwide.

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