Map of Wave Pools, River Waves and Indoor Surfing Machines

Map of Wave Pools, River Waves and Indoor Surfing Machines

Are you looking for a surf pool experience? Have you ever dreamed of surfing a river wave or rapid?

Explore the world's most comprehensive map to artificial waves and inland surfing.

Check out the rates, the technology, the hours of operation, and the location of the world's best man-made and river waves.

Find a wave pool, river or static wave near you, plan a visit, book your session, and enjoy the ride.

 

Types of Non-Ocean Waves

There are two major categories of non-ocean waves: artificial wave pools and static waves.

Wave pools, or surf pools, are more or less large, indoor or outdoor facilities where human-made waves are generated.

They resemble traditional swimming pools or inland lagoons but are equipped with mechanical, electronic, and hydraulic technologies capable or producing more or less bigger waves.

In a way, wave pools try to mimic the behavior of a classic ocean wave, which breaks parallel to the shore and allows surfers to ride them down the line as they peel across a more or less prolonged area.

Wave Pools: History and Technologies

The world's first wave pool dates back to somewhere between 1845-1886 when King Ludwig II of Bavaria electrified one of his private lakes to create artificial waves.

Later, in 1929, Germany's Munich opened an indoor swimming pool that generates small waves thanks to "agitators" that pushed water through grates in the diving zone.

In 1969, the first public inland wave pool opened to wave riders in Tempe, Arizona. It was called Big Surf and introduced landlocked water sports enthusiasts to the sport of surfing.

The mastermind behind its concept was Phil Dexter, a petroleum engineer, and inventor.

The surf pool was 400 feet long, 300 feet wide, and nine feet deep. It contained 3.8 gallons of recirculating water and was, at the time, surrounded by desert sand.

Wildwater Kingdom (1985), Disney's Typhoon Lagoon (1989), Sunway Lagoon and Seagaia Ocean Dome (1993) followed before the second generation gradually emerged in the 2000s.

Wavegarden (2005), Siam Park (2008), Wadi Adventure (2011), Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch (2015), BSR Surf Resort (2018) and Surf Lakes (2019) introduced new ways of recreating ocean waves in a controlled environment.

Static Waves: Indoor Wave Pools and River Waves

From a surfing perspective, there are two types of static, non-ocean waves: sheet waves and river waves.

Sheet Waves

Static waves, also known as sheet waves, are waves generated by powerful pumps that project layers of water at high speeds, allowing surfers to ride the energy of the water movement and flow.

There are small, medium, and big structures used for riding these static waves.

Wave Loch, Citywave, and Murphys Waves are some of the key players in this multi-million industry.

They've already built and installed hundreds of static wave machines in hotels, seaside resorts, shopping centers, theme parks, water parks, private condos, airports, leisure centers and luxurious cruise ships.

River Waves: Upstream, Downstream Surfing and Tidal Bores

River waves can be broken down into three categories: downstream river waves, upstream river waves, and tidal bores.

The most common type of river waves is downstream river waves. They can be found in many regions of the world, in urban or inland areas.

A river wave is created when a high volume of water flows over a rocky or higher bottom. The flow generates what is called a hydraulic jump.

The sudden bump allows the surfer to ride the virtually endless wave fast, even though he or she is not moving forward or sideways.

The most popular river breaks are located in the Eisbach River (Munich, Germany), Bend Whitewater Park (Oregon, USA), Snake River (Wyoming, USA), Zambezi River (Livingstone, Zambia), River Thun (Thun, Switzerland), River Mur (Graz, Austria), Glomma River (Sarpsborg, Norway) and Boise Whitewater Park ) Idaho, USA).

An upstream river wave is a rare wave that forms in the ocean and travels up the river.

In other words, the ocean pushes swell up river mouths and against the direction and flow of the natural river current.

In this particular case, the river surfer is actually moving forward while the wave holds a surfable face.

The most famous upstream river waves in the world appear once in a while in the Urumea River (Donostia/San Sebastian, Spain) and River Neet or Strat (Bude, England).

Finally, there's the tidal bore, a rare phenomenon that only takes place a few times in a few regions of the world.

Bores, also known as surges, are tidal events in a which a massive and often single wave is created by the constriction of an incoming spring tide, as it gets funneled up a narrow and shallow river.

Tidal bores can be deadly and often have destructive consequences, especially in the margins of the rivers.

The best tidal bores for surfing are Pororoca (Araguari River, São Domingos do Capim, Brazil), The Bono (Kampar River, Indonesia), Silver Dragon (Qiantang River, Haining Province, China), Severn (River Severn, Gloucester, England), Le Mascaret (Seine River, Le Havre, France), Bay of Fundy (Petitcodiac River, Moncton, Canada), Turnagain Arm (Cook Inlet, Gulf of Alaska, Anchorage, USA), and The Baan (Hooghly River, Kolkata, India).

Wave Pool Technologies

There are only a handful of wave pool technologies and each company develops and sells its own patented concept.

The most advanced artificial wave pools are Wavegarden, American Wave Machines, Kelly Slater Wave Co. and Surf Lakes.

Wavegarden

The Cove by Wavegarden

Wavegarden sells "The Cove."

Designed in the Basque Country, the company proposes a technology that is able to produce 1,000 ocean-like waves per hour.

The pool's bathymetry ensures that water currents circulate continuously with the flow of breaking waves without impacting their quality.

The size, shape, power and frequency of each ride can be adjusted at the push of a button.

The Cove can pump waves of up to eight feet (2.4 meters) in sites smaller than one hectare.

Wavegarden estimates the running cost of each wave at around €0,10 for a six-foot, 15-second long wave.

American Wave Machines

PerfectSwell by American Wave Machines

American Wave Machines (AWM) is currently selling PerfectSwell.

Their patented technology aims to imitate ocean waves and recreate surfing far away from the coastline.

By controlling air pressure firing patterns and sequences, they are able to pump unlimited wave types. All the operator needs to do is use a touch screen interface to produce a new wave riding experience.

AWM says that their artificial waves can be designed to any size and shape specification, offering rides of between 10 to 15 seconds in a two-to-three-acre pool, and rides of 40 and 50 seconds in larger pools.

In other words, you can get a point break (left or right), an A-frame wave, and barrels into peaky close-outs.

PerfectSwell is able to create a wave every three seconds.

Kelly Slater Wave Co.

KSWC by Kelly Slater Wave Co.

Professional surfer Kelly Slater dedicated two decades to developing the world's first barreling human-made wave.

Kelly Slater Wave Co. (KSWC) created a flexible technology that is able to produce variable waves for all levels of surfing.

The wave system mimics the power, speed, and experience found in the ocean waves.

The contours of the KSWC wave pool were designed and perfected with the help of high-tech supercomputers.

Then, 100-ton hydrofoils run down a track at around 18 miles per hour (30 kilometers per hour) and produce a left and a right-hand wave.

When the swell hits specific areas of the lake's bottom, the wave starts to break thanks to the influence of the contour reefs.

Giant lateral gutters mitigate the bounce-back effect that occurs on the pool walls.

The KSWC wave pool generates two waves of up to five feet every three minutes.

Surf Lakes

5 Waves by Surf Lakes

The Australian-based company developed a technology named 5 Waves that creates concentric waves in a 360-degree pool.

5 Waves produces up to 2,400 waves per hour. The company's concept allows the presence of 200 surfers in the water simultaneously.

Surf Lakes is able to offer a variety of waves shapes, ride lengths with varying degrees of difficulty, and eight separate surf breaks.

The 5 Waves system pumps waves of up to 7.8 feet in all directions and over multiple breaks.

Surf Lakes believes that wind direction can be used to advantage, whichever direction it blows.

The technology requires a minimum lake size of 2.5 hectares, plus surrounding shoreline.

Pay to Surf

All wave pools are privately owned.

As a result, the price per hour ranges from $40 to $190 depending on the type of wave (beginner, intermediate or advanced), the season (spring-summer or fall-winter), the equipment you may need to rent (surfboards, wetsuits), and lessons you may want to book.

Customers wishing to enjoy the facility on a regular basis may purchase season passes or simply close the pool for a private party.

Some wave pool structures offer lounging, sleeping and eating options, as well as other activities such as climbing zones, surf shops, kayaking, SUP and swimming activities, etc.