First Person: Melbourne airport’s got barrels in a vending machine!

Max Emerson is a mid-level surfer who has been lucky enough to cobble a career out of making their internet life look more glamorous than it really is. One million Instagram followers is enough to support a chronic travel (and surfing) addiction. As a result, Max has been fortunate enough to paddle out in places like Hawaii, Texas, Australia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Portugal and Japan. This is his first-person account of dropping everything for a few sessions at Urbnsurf.

Falling somewhere between high-end malls and global transit depots, airports are magical places. Many feature five-star hotels. Some boast high-end spas or snooty lounges. A few even have restaurants designed by Michelin-Star-winning chefs. I’m here to say that Melbourne Australia’s Tullamarine Airport has got them all beat. It’s the only airport in the world where you can buy barrels in a vending machine.

Urbnsurf Melbourne isn’t your grandfather’s airport lounge. Okay, it’s not technically an airport lounge. Although not exactly located inside security, they’re close enough that you can score some turns during a short layover. Want to wear yourself out before jumping on a Red-Eye? Need a quick refresher before taking off to Indonesia? Urbnsurf has you covered. 

I visited Urbnsurf in May of 2022 following a week-long Aussie road trip. This was my first time surfing Bondi Beach, Byron Bay, and the Gold Coast. We had beautiful head-high surf and reasonably warm weather. Urbnsurf was my last stop, part of a quick visit to some extended family in Melbourne. Since the city of Melbourne is centered way back in Port Phillip Bay, it was a nearly two-hour drive to legendary spots like Gunnamatta or Bells. There wasn’t enough time to make that kind of trek and to be completely honest I was more interested in Urbnsurf. I’d been dying to visit since they first opened in January of 2020.

After two weeks of surfing up and down the coast, I can confidently say that my sessions at Urbnsurf yielded the most rides, the quickest learning curve, and the friendliest locals. From beginner whitewater lessons to 6-foot slab barrels, Urbnsurf has an accessible entry point for beginners while also featuring formidable waves that make even the professionals drool.

My home beach in LA (Sunset Point) is primarily a right, so I booked sessions on the left to shake things up. Timing the takeoff took a bit to get used to, but after drinking chlorine once or twice I was up and running. Other surfers in the lineup were quick to offer tips and encouragement. Besides wave consistency, one of the reasons you can catch so many waves in just an hour session is that you don’t need to paddle back out. The pool’s current does most of that for you! Beyond the waves themselves, the on site restaurant was worth a visit in itself and the hot tubs were a kindness I never knew I needed. 

On my quest to visit every wave pool ever made, Urbnsurf Melbourne was a standout that I’ll certainly be visiting again.

Check out Max’s review of Waco Surf in Texas right here