Where is the best wave pool in the world? Expert tells all

Wave Pool Connoisseur Scott Bass Compares Wave Pools

Editor’s Note: This article was published before The Wave and Urbnsurf opened to the public. You can find the WavePoolMag reviews of those surf spots at The Wave Review and Urbnsurf Review

We found the best wave pool in the world thanks to Scott Bass – founder and creator of The Boardroom International Surfboard Show and podcaster of the Boardroom and SPIT! shows – who is fast becoming a wave pool connoisseur. The uber-stylish San Diego County regular foot has had the pleasure of searching out wave pools in Florida, Texas (times 2) and California.

In the below interview Scott shares his rapidly expanding take on what each wave pool has to offer.

Is Kelly’s better than BSR? Does Austin kick Orlando’s ass? We learned that Kelly’s wave is anxiety producing while the Waco wave pool is more like a Jimmy Buffet song with umbrellas on the beach and cold beers at hand.

However, in the end, Kelly’s masterpiece is the gold standard for wave pools, tummy flutters and all.

Thankfully, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is perfectly acceptable in the surf world, and Scott Bass nails the details to deliver solid knowledge on the world’s best wave pool. Read on and learn…

Scott Bass surfs Kelly's wave pool


How many waves have you surfed at each of the wave pools?
Typhoon Lagoon in Orlando – I’ve caught approximately 15 waves
Nland Austin Tx – I’ve caught approximately 20 waves
Waco BSR – I’ve caught approximately 20 waves
KS Wave Ranch in Lemoore Ca- I’ve caught approximately 8 waves

Which of the three waves was the most difficult to surf, and why?
Most difficult was the Waco wave on the “expert” setting. The wave pops up rather quickly and throws a fast section quickly so if you’re not on your “A” game… it was easy for me to get left behind. I probably only made about two-thirds of my waves on the BSR Waco “expert” wave. I found the Waco “intermediate” wave to be much more rippable, enjoyable.

Out of all three pool sessions, which one single ride stands out from all the others? Share with us that wave.
I guess it would have to be a left at the KS Wave Ranch. Of course all the waves there are very long. I took off and just started flying; the wave is very fast and steep. I was offered numerous opportunities to carve under the lip in succession and this really helped me get into a rhythm with my board and the wave; then I set up for the tube section which I knew was coming! I found it easier to come out of the tubes going backside. The tubes are small and I had to ball up in a small pigdog squat but I got really deep on one; I saw the lip way out in front of me and kind of almondy but I was dry as a bone in this thing and it’s so perfect, I knew I was going to come out; it’s just so perfect.

The world has absorbed videos from each of these spots and we all have a general idea of how they go. We heard the Surf Ranch smells like cows. What don’t you see, hear or smell in the videos?
The sound of the train which pulls the plow is interesting. The anxiety that you feel. The announcer in the tower says, “One minute till the next wave. One minute.” and then the train starts to slowly move forward. At Waco there’s a nice sand beach with umbrellas and it offers a real beach vibe.

Scott Bass tubed at Kelly's Wave

“At Kelly’s, it’s easier to come out of the tubes going backside…”

OK. Kinda out in left field on this one, but what is the water like in each one? Is it all just generic pond water or are there some distinguishing characteristics to each one like chlorine or cryptosporidium?
Typhoon Lagoon is swimming pool water clear blue chlorinated. NLAnd is fresh water brown, silty but I think also slightly chlorinated and filtered. Waco is trippy. Super dark fresh water with a green coloring. The tubes are pitch black. Kelly Slater Wave Ranch is also just fresh water like a lake, with a bit of silt.

We know you liked the Cafe at NLand, how did the post-surf atmosphere and cuisine compare at the other locations?
Waco food was just so-so. Below average. KS Wave Ranch food was incredible. Sushi, fresh salads, top notch. Not sure if they had it catered when I was there or if they make it on site. But it was very good.

Out of the three, which one would have you on a plane in an hour to go surf again and why? – In other words, pick a winner…
Without a doubt, the KS Wave Ranch is far and away the best wave. Long, hollow, rippable clean leg burners. It’s also the hardest to get into.

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