Wave pools: one day, we will all be able to surf in the Sahara Desert | Photo: Wavegarden

The era of the artificial wave is coming. Progress toward producing the perfect human-made wave is arriving on a monthly basis. Let's look at the world's most famous surf pool concepts right now.

In the coming years, there will be individual buttons for classic overhead barreling right-handers, punchy ramps and lips, and three-foot waves for beginners.

Despite the high installation costs, multiple wave pools and surf parks are being installed everywhere, from Asia to North America.

Wave pool technology has evolved dramatically since Japan's once-innovative surf pool closed its doors in 2007.

If the Seagaia Ocean Dome had survived the test of time, it would undoubtedly compare well with the latest trends.

The leading artificial wave companies, surf pools, surf machines, and surf parks are:

The Cove by Wavegarden

The first to unveil a retail concept was Spain's Wavegarden. They've developed one of the best artificial surfing experiences ever seen.

The Wavegarden is no longer a prototype and is breaking down barriers in Bristol (England), Garopaba and Itupeva (Brazil), Sion (Switzerland), Siheung (South Korea), and Melbourne (Australia).

The Zarautz facility in the Basque Country, Spain, continues to be a test site for the developers José Manuel Odriozola and Karin Frisch.


Surf Ranch | Kelly Slater Wave Co. | Lemoore, California

While the surf community and surf entrepreneurs seem anxious to ride and build copies of the beautiful Wavegarden, one man is taking notes - Kelly Slater.

The Kelly Slater Wave Company promises what seems impossible: the best robotic surf ride in the sport's history.

"Cool, they made a wave, but I think you'll all be very happy when you see what we have in store," said Slater on his Twitter account after the Wavegarden crew unveiled their creation.

In December 2015, the surfer-businessman revealed his Surf Ranch, a dreamy wave pool capable of pumping flawless tubes.

The original Surf Ranch is closed to the public. In 2023, the first commercial facility opened in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.


BSR Surf Resort | PerfectSwell by American Wave Machines | Waco, Texas

American Wave Machines (AWM) followed a different concept and developed PerfectSwell, a technology that pumps air into the water.

Their purposely imperfect wave simulates point breaks, beach breaks, and peeling waves that reach between three and eight feet.

The first public wave pool powered by AWM is the BSR Surf Resort in Waco, Texas. Each ride lasts between 10 and 15 seconds, but it has been considered the closest experience to an ocean wave.


Surf Lakes | 5 Waves | Yeppoon, Queensland, Australia

Founded by Aaron Trevis, Surf Lakes is an Australian surf pool company with Mark Occhilupo and Barton Lynch as full-time ambassadors.

The wave pool prototype was built in Yeppoon, Capricorn Coast, Queensland.

The technology generates concentric waves and promises multiple breaks. The system pumps eight separate waves simultaneously, and they will vary in length and size.


Artwave Surf | Helsinki, Finland

Artwave is a wave-generating concept developed in 2011 by Atso Andersen, alongside several Ph.D. students, in Helsinki, Finland.

The Finnish artificial wave is one of the simplest concepts around.

It involved a special hydrodynamically designed wing-type foil that creates an A-frame as it travels across any body of water.

The inexpensive, easy-to-set-up surf pool system can be installed virtually anywhere. Its aeration properties make it a truly sustainable inland surfing formula.

The energy cost of each wave is under $0.20.


Endless Surf by Whitewater

Endless Surf is a technology developed by Whitewater that utilizes pneumatic wave-generating chambers along the back wall of a heart-shaped pool.

The pools come in different sizes, indicated by the model name, such as ES48, which corresponds to the number of chambers (48 in this case).

The scalability of Endless Surf pools allows for customization based on available land, with the number of chambers ranging from 24 (ES24) to 60 (ES60), affecting the pool’s footprint and surf ride time.

Despite the variability in size, the wave-generating capability in terms of height and types of waves is not compromised.

Endless Surf's technology package includes a full software suite with three systems for managing bookings and guests, wave programming, and hardware maintenance.

Endless Surf's wave pools can produce a wide variety of wave types, including barrels, A-frames, and beginner-friendly waves, using preloaded wave types as well as customizable combinations.

Operators can control the frequency and type of waves produced, offering waves every 8 to 16+ seconds and accommodating 400-700 waves per hour.


UNIT Surf Pool by UNIT Parktech | Langenfeld, Germany

The world's first floating surf pool was born in Cologne, Germany. It is a stationary wave system that can be quickly installed in a lake or river.

The UNIT Surf Pool uses natural water flow to generate a deepwater wave with low energy consumption.

It is available in five sizes, and the whole structure can be shipped worldwide in standard containers.

It was launched in Germany in 2018 and brought to North America in 2020 by Tony Finn and Jessica O'Leary, an expert team with many years of experience in action sports production, development, and event management.


Siam Park | Point Break Surf by Murphys Waves | Tenerife, Spain

Murphys Waves is a Scottish company that has been making waves for a long time.

This artificial wave machine generator has equipped Siam Park in Tenerife, Spain, where Dany Bruch invented tow-in windsurfing.

The ride is relatively long and consistent. The waves can reach 12 feet, and several characteristics may be adjusted in the central computer.


Typhoon Lagoon | SurfKing by Barr + Wray | Orlando, Florida

They are one of the oldest wave pool manufacturers in the world.

The SurfKing wave machine, which can be found in Florida, South Africa, Malaysia, and Korea, produces waves up to eight feet high in a controlled environment.

At Malaysia's Sunway Lagoon Theme Park, you can hit the surf in the "...world's largest man-made surf beach, backed by the world's largest wave churning machine."

For surfers in Kuala Lumpur and surrounding regions, it's probably the best option.

At Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, every 90 seconds, waves crash to the shore of a pool twice the size of a football field.


WaveOz | Flowrider by Wave Loch | Sao Paulo, Brazil

Wave Loch has developed and installed artificial static waves that generate endless joyrides.

Their 360-degree business model is capable of turning the entire surf pool complex into a profitable leisure activity.

Their FlowRider system is available in dozens of countries, from Aruba to the United States, and has become one of the most famous standing waves on the planet.

It even crowns world champions.


Webber Wave Pools by Greg Weber

Webber Wave Pools by Greg Weber

Webber Wave Pools is an Australian company founded by Greg Weber. He believes he has one of the smartest technical models for creating waves in the middle of nowhere.

The mastermind behind this brand says that his concept "...makes multiple, real, perfect waves that continually break all the time. The riding time per wave is 60 seconds."

However, he has yet to deliver a full-scale structure of his artificial wave formula.

Words by Luís MP | Founder of SurferToday.com

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