Wave Pool Reviews by You: The Wave with Nick and Hannah

Search “wave pool” through social platforms and you’ll find a hive of influencers and pros claiming “best pool ever.” But what about us mortal surfers who have to trade hard-earned currency for a crack at perfect waves. We might feel differently after sinking a day’s wage for some surf time. Doesn’t our opinion count? Sure there is Trip Advisor, but it’s KarenLand – a minefield of complaints about the Cappucino foam being too airy or whatever.

Consider this installment on WavePoolMag a platform for the proletariat, the neighborhood bro and Jane Doe. Each month we will ask a dedicated wave pool surfer to deliver some quick thoughts on an artificial surf spot they’ve visited. It’s not rocket science or a complete guide (a sample of which you can find on our YouTube channel.) but it’s a fun peek into the world’s wave pools from a consumer standpoint.

This month Neil “Moonwalker” Armstrong spoke with Hannah Bristow and Nicholas Copeland.

Californian Nick Copeland is in England quite a bit. He surfs The Wave a handful of times each year.

Located just north of Bristol (the most populous city in the SW region) in the rolling green hills of the English countryside, you’ll find The Wave. Surely the most exciting thing that’s happened in England since the Beatles all went to the same hairdresser.

For Nick Copeland, a Californian who lives in France but travels frequently to London for work, The Wave is his go-to pool and he surfs it about every three months.

“I enjoy it to be honest. Good enough to get exercise and enjoy the atmosphere,” said Nick. “But I don’t believe surfing The Wave is going to improve my surfing, I’ve been surfing for over 45 years, so this is just another outlet to keep me balanced.”

Nick says the vibe at The Wave, while friendly, is more reserved than what he’s used to in California.

“My first surf at The Wave was surreal. I’m used to hooting my mates into waves, and in general, the UK surfers are very quiet. Not nearly as noisy as the Californian crew I’m used to. Having said that, the ambiance is good but just a bit subdued. People are friendly.”

When The Wave first opened the highest public setting was “advanced.” But the park now offers heavier sessions.

“My favorite wave is the Expert Turns setting,” said Nick. “It’s the highest one I’ve been on. The only issue in the UK is that that surfing level isn’t so high, so not too many people can surf the higher settings, from what I’ve seen.”

Nick says he usually spends about £45 to £50 (US$60-$67) a session.

“It’s great value in my book. Saves on gas, car maintenance, and dispels any question about getting waves when you go. It doesn’t replace the ocean by a long shot, but is a great option.”

We pressed Nick on where The Wave could improve its services and offerings.

“I can’t think of anything that could be improved upon for wave pools except for maybe longer wavelength. They all seem to be going in the right direction.”

Hannah taking shelter from the snowfall during a February session. Photo Image Cabin

Local, Hannah Bristow, has been to The Wave seven times so far and tries to get there every couple of months.

“It’s a high-performance wave and no matter what the wind direction, you’re guaranteed a great surf,” said Hannah who also goes by the stage name Hannah Dorothy. “It’s a fairly easy takeoff and you can really work on turns/tricks/maneuvers. It’s also a great place to go when it’s flat on the coast. And at around £45 to £50 (US$60-$67) I definitely think it’s worth the money, as you know you’re gonna’ get good waves. Unlike surf trips where it’s completely weather dependent.”

Hannah is also constantly working to improve her surf game. She says the theater-like setup makes filming easy.

“Knowing that you’re going to get a long, clean wall, sections, and barrels makes it so much easier to work on technique, and I also like the fact that it’s so easy to film there – you don’t need a fancy camera.”

Top Image by Matt Austin/The Wave

The Wave, UK

Bristol’s wave pool attracts core UK surfers from the coast, urban Bristolites, and weekending Londoners. The Wavegarden Cove system is set for five different sessions: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Advanced Plus, and Expert. Like Urbnsurf in Melbourne, which opened around the same time, The Wave has done a great job adjusting their wave offerings to suit clientele. The Advanced Plus and Expert sessions are popular and book out early with the Advanced Plus seeing 34 surfers (half on the lefts, half on the rights) while 28 surfers split the pool for the Expert session. 

Surf Technical Information: Advanced waves run between 4-to-6 feet while intermediate waves stay in the 2-foot-range. Rides run between 12-15 seconds on each section of the wave pool

Hours of operation/Seasonal Hours: The pool is open in Winter from 7am-8pm and surfing hours are from 8am to 3pm. Equinox months see 8am to 4pm pool hours for surfing. Summer surfing hours are longer

Hourly Cost

Advanced: $55 weekday // $70 weekend

Advanced Plus: $75

Expert: $83

Number of surfers in water: 17

Number of waves for each surfer per session: The Wave won’t provide an official count for how many waves a surfer can expect each session, but the unofficial count by users is between 10-12.

Single ride cost: $6.75 (Advanced+) – $7.50 (Expert)

Seconds per ride: 12 

Cost per second: 56¢ (Advanced+) – 62¢ (Expert)