Twenty wave pool technologies and how they work

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)
Swellnet Dispatch

While not strictly news, the crew at Wave Pool Mag have gathered all the existing wave pool companies and their tech into one concise read.

From one or two visionary pioneers, there are now two score companies in the industry, each powered by different technology - sometimes the difference is slight, other times wild.

Click to check them all out.


freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 8:38am

Turned out, making waves was a relatively easy engineering project.

The physics of making anything bigger than head high though, as far as energy requirements go, is still brutal and unrelenting.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 8:59am
anthony.olsen's picture
anthony.olsen's picture
anthony.olsen Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 11:12am

Brutal on the boards that one.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 9:03am

Spacecadet's picture
Spacecadet's picture
Spacecadet Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 10:27am

Stu, in your opinion based on being a decent surfer (non-grom), which is the best wave pool currently in existence?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 10:42am

I've only surfed one, that being Wavegarden, so it's hard to say which is best, at least from a performance point of view.

In terms of viability, however, the best would be Wavegarden or American Wave Machines, simply because they've shown they can scale their technology and fit the pools to various size lots, while retaining large wave counts.

When the shakedown comes and pools start going broke, I expect those two companies at least to still be standing.

Stok's picture
Stok's picture
Stok Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 10:45am

I often think that URBNsurf Melbourne will effectively do it's self out of business by the opening of multiple pools around Oz. They'd get a fair chunk of revenue from interstaters and events (20%+?), which will taper off significantly if/once they get more pools around the country.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 3:09pm

Might be right there Stok.

One thing for sure: the novelty factor is dead. Any iterations will have to be improvements or they'll be greeted by a very indifferent public.

wax-on-danielson's picture
wax-on-danielson's picture
wax-on-danielson Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 3:18pm

I think from photos wavelake looks the best and most authentic waves. Don’t know how keen I would be to pay $100 for an hour or whatever it will cost to then paddle out with 200 other people - could surf the Gold Coast for free.

Fliplid's picture
Fliplid's picture
Fliplid Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 11:56am

The video for Surf Lakes in Stus link is the one for the punters, this one from their website lays out a clear eyed argument about what it is really all about.

“A developers dream”, “more people more money,” “multiple revenue streams”, that sort of thing.

wallpaper's picture
wallpaper's picture
wallpaper Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 1:17pm

so what exactly were you thinking it was all about?

Fliplid's picture
Fliplid's picture
Fliplid Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 5:02pm

fun and frivolity?

wallpaper's picture
wallpaper's picture
wallpaper Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 7:21pm

you thought there was no fee in freedom

san Guine's picture
san Guine's picture
san Guine Saturday, 24 Apr 2021 at 6:31pm

but there is reef

the-u-turn's picture
the-u-turn's picture
the-u-turn Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 11:58am

Strike me pink! I had no idea there were that many out there. I'm exhausted...

Luke02's picture
Luke02's picture
Luke02 Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 12:26pm

I'm uneducated in this area but does anyone know why some of the water in the pools is a milky like colour and then some is clear?

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 12:01am

Luke02 ~ Wave Pool Water Table almost drowned in tbb's wishy washy Deep End!

1936 Portobello -6,000 seat Surf Stadium > Desal > Power Station > 20* (Concrete base)
Brownie's 3ft beast ran 100m & 50m back for 10/30mins-1st Surfboard / Oar craft Wave Pool
1970-2 (7 Seas Lagoon) 1st natural Wave setting in 100 yrs (Gatorade Flavour) Paddle harder!
Proved too powerful & wiped out Walt's Polynesian Village! Oops! Pressed the wrong button!
1986 Canada- Blue Thunder - Springwater naturally 31* Chlorinated (Rubber base)
Boardrider's Club > Hydraulic 8 > 6 Panel > see (Loch) soon switching to pneumatic
1989 US Typhoon Lagoon has textured base scrapes that Life Guards Mop Up (Blood Red)
True Story! tbb mentioned this to a Typhoon Life Gaurdess in B'Hds & she went Spazz.
1993 Japan Ocean Dome -Desal > 30* (Micro Pebble Base) 90's Pneumatic Pools (re:WA)

Spain -Wave Garden HQ is river fed (Filtered by WG Secret Herbs & Spices) Secret Base.
Tip! WG will slot extra Wall Panel Boards to ramp extra Corner pocket Grunt.
Wales -Snowdonia Dams > Hydro Power Stn heated (WG secret herbs) Fin Slash Base (Brown)

US Nland -On site Dirt Ponds (WG secret herbs) Fin Slashed lining base (Brown) re: > WSL
Here the water got under the fin slashed lining & flooded the Neighbourhood
US The Ranch taps Bore Water Co-Op -Now with Ultra thick lining- (Brown)
Skimmerz / Loggerz all get Lassoed & roped in! Get drilled & cuffed! Stick to the Rails...Punk!
US Waco (Milky) Clay aquifer Brain Bugs >1mT of Chlorine for Tests > Now Lined & Filtered

Oz Urbnsurf - Tulla Air Covid Backwash (WG Bio security Herbs) + Dust storm Mud baths!
tbb points out obvious, but Urbnsurf do clear Water /eco/recycling challenges! (re: Deep end)
Oz SurfLakes- Mayor's 1/2 Price Townwater (re: Pacific Water Technology)
Note: Surfers put feet thru base & Wave strike zone wore thru the lining...redo.

UK Bristol Townwater (WG secret Herbs) with site runoff top ups

(These last 2 are guesses)
South Korea - Part Wave Powered Desal + (WG secret herbs)
Japan AWM Olympic Pool (Note foreground in photo) Deep narrow tidal canal (Likely Desal)

tbb wades into 'The Deep End'

Oz (New) U'Surf x2 Recycle / AWM x2 River+Dam-Ck / ES x2 -Town water+Ck / SL upgrade.

Most large Lagoons advise No Swim (Immersion) / Preggo / Infants due to pathogen risk.
Kelly lobbies for all Calif' pools smaller than his "Basin" to comply to strictest Town Pool Rules
Recreational Water Bodies (Oar/Paddle/Ski) Can skip Water Quality as with Federal Precincts

(WG secret Herbs) = UV / Ozone / Bio-Carbon Filter are said to tick local Pool standards.
New Cove / AWM designs also moved into self contained bases shielding out slime.
Urbnsurf did make it clear they favour Fed Precinct feather dusting of local laws...(But!)
Urbnsurf are fair dinkum for allowing bodysurfers a go! That bucks the Go Pro era!
Bodysurfers grooming a wave pool gives the ultimate tick that laws & money can't buy!

Grander natural Spring Water fed wave galleries & have stoked VIPs for over a century.

History shows that 1920/30's was the Glam Wave Pool era for Style & Mega Stadiums.
WSL Pros can only drool of parading stickers around heated Wavepool Coliseums.
100 yrs on, surfers lost stadiums, got cold baths, milk crates & cheapest Olympic ticket.
Can always unbox some more of them stickers!

Luke02's picture
Luke02's picture
Luke02 Saturday, 1 May 2021 at 8:01pm

Cheers TB

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 1:18pm


lilas's picture
lilas's picture
lilas Saturday, 24 Apr 2021 at 7:08am

Take my money! I just want to surf everyday and the ocean won't provide me with that, so it's time for option "B"
If the science is true then my money is on the Wave Prism to be a winner. 80% less energy is the main reason there, along with larger wave heights. [Compared to current tech]
Seems a really flexible system as well which is huge selling point.
Looking forward to that 8ft wave in a wave pool one day.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Saturday, 24 Apr 2021 at 8:38am

80% less Energy is a huge claim by Wave Prism - Ridiculous even.

seahunt's picture
seahunt's picture
seahunt Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 9:11am

They say they can produce waves up to 6 foot, but no video to prove it..They cant do

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 9:43am

Kellys still easily looks the best wave wise, but overall vibe/environment not great.

Surf lakes looks like the most natural in both the actual environment and how the wave comes to you in a swell and how it breaks.

But after my Urbn surf experience, i don't have much interest in it all, my first surf back in the ocean in average waves of the same size even with a light onshore was so much better.

I have much more interest in artificial reefs, but can't see too much development there with no real money to be made and often opposition even from surfers.

damota's picture
damota's picture
damota Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 10:43pm

See Air wave for artifical reef tech if this guy gets it right will simultaneously sink thewave pools. Alot of Beaches out there!

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 10:52pm

AirWave 1 = $250K Failure...Troy says to the Investors lets cut our losses and try again
WTF ! ? ?

damota's picture
damota's picture
damota Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 2:00am

Yeah ,rome wasn't built in a day hence "if he gets it right " time & money will tell i guess?

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 8:08am

A small rise in cost now for Air Wave 2 - $350 -400,000 USD

lilas's picture
lilas's picture
lilas Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 6:05am

"I have much more interest in artificial reefs, but can't see too much development there with no real money to be made and often opposition even from surfers."
You hit the nail on the head there mate. There is so much potential for more [Proper ocean] waves with Coastal Improvements. I suggest we all stop using the term "Artificial Reefs" as these days it implies something fake or less-than-nature. [Even though it really means Man-Made, so you are all actually surfing Artificial Surfboards!. Sounds odd doesn't it?

I also dispute that there is no money to be made out of them. There is a 2 fold financial benefit from Improving coastlines. One is the massive amount of money to be saved by not having to continually Fix the beach erosion and stop buildings falling into the sea. The money already spent on this ridicules scenario over the last 30 years would have given the Gold Coast 50 new Reefs by now. But alas, they keep pumping in millions of dollars worth of sand that just gets washed away in the next big swell.
Sounds completely reasonably to spend a few 100 million on protecting Billions of Dollars worth of realestate as we are already doing it. Just incorrectly.

The other benefit is that people love safe and good surfing beaches and tourism would do really well out of that. Imagine the Gold Coast with 20-30 new world class Reefs! People would come from all over the world to surf these world-class waves.

and another benefit is the general health of the population. This counts towards billions of dollars. as every person surfing is going to be much more healthy both physically and mentally. [Shit I would be dead by now if I didn't]

san Guine's picture
san Guine's picture
san Guine Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 11:00am

Indo-dreaming, I agree that nothing betters ocean surfing, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the Urbnsurf experience.
I went by myself and my expectations of the place were exceeded. Friendly vibe, fun wave (on advanced mode), couldn't figure out the barrel mode, but then again only had one session. Would definitely go again when up in Melbourne.

I wouldn't mind a couple of artificial reefs on the MP. Portsea would be a good place to start.

andrew-pitt's picture
andrew-pitt's picture
andrew-pitt Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 1:40pm

anybody have an update on the reef sunk off Palm Beach, Gold Coast?
Can't see any salient on the shoreline. So has it been effective in the goal of beach widening?

Current Affair's picture
Current Affair's picture
Current Affair Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 8:12pm

And the Webber pool... Has anything happened with one of those yet?

gsco's picture
gsco's picture
gsco Sunday, 2 May 2021 at 8:02pm
udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Saturday, 22 May 2021 at 7:20pm

Re Surf Lakes Water Filtration
The Lakes need to be classified / DA as a Recreational water body not a public swimming pool

The Treatment / Filtration requirements are to strict for the Scale of a Surf Lake.
This is not good ?

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Monday, 28 Mar 2022 at 11:47am

Designed for 100% Solar power and draws half of the Competitors KWH

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher Saturday, 7 Jan 2023 at 2:47am

2022/23 swellnet exclusive Wave Tech price Check...
Punters claim their recent Pool Party invites come with a VIP price tag!
Ironically, this is an age old matter how hot yer Pool Boy is!

Wave Pool Price survey intro...
Checklist applies universal price format to seek out the most affordable cost of "Best" Waves / Hour.
This is a Wave Tech Review seeking the best most affordable Wave Tech! (Not a Family Discount offer!)
Wave Pool Prices are converted to 2021/2 Oz inflation &/or from o/s to current 2023 $AUS.

"Universally affordable" Wave Tech entry prices for the Global Surfing Village.
Self indulgent daily/ weekly hire is beyond our means...Anyhow! pretty sure Pro VIPs don't pay!
Sky is the Limit in parting a fool from his money...waste of all our time pricing $50k/day pamper packs!

Prices shown are converted to Base Hourly / Wave rate from several formatted Package deals...
Wave Trains vary from 3 secs > 10 min lulls resulting in one solo wave to unlimited Party Waves / hr.
Research revealed that most Wave Pools can serve up similar Height / Length, but in different shapes.
Many Pools fling Tuberiders higher than WSL pros + Waves run similar length in most large pools.
Just saying that each prefer their own Style of Waves...swellnet price check explores all Wave options.

Free Wave Pools 6-24hrs to 1-10 hrs cost ratio of Daily Tickets for Solo or Party Waves (Itemized)
Many Wave Pools offer a/h Packages from 1-4 hours to day/week from 1-40 surfers

tbb dug deep to share Cost of allotted waves per Hour
Waves/hr are left as is! Before decoding exact Surfer/Wave/hr > check 1/2 Surfer per Wave... Ok!
Almost impossible to quantify 'exact' Wave Price per 1hr because DJ mix up custom L/R > A Frames.
Some Wave Pools mandate Combo/Club or Residential Membership..,from $10 > $100k.
Many others need to change hours & close for months!
Kook Wave Pools mandate 1-2 [L] Sessions before booking yer Expert Session = 3x Entry Tickets.
Other Kook Pools cover risk by National Insurance Schemes (1/3 of Entry Price) prior to Booking!
Oz also offers Wave Pool insurance

*GOAT Wave Pool "Ocean Dome" Japan is chosen as Default Wave Pool Setting (Closed 2007)
Fun Fact : JW / Owen surfed last Ocean Dome training session then Japan's First Surf Olympics!
eg: (Conversion from 1993 $Japan > $Oz end of 2021 Prices)
$5.60/hr for 10 hrs unlimited party waves or $56.20 (Entry) 6 surfers / 10 solo waves / a/h session)
World's #1 GOAT Pool Wave was deemed Ultra VIP exclusive & #1 reason for it's demise!
Exactly! Head high Slabs at 1/3 of the price of Today's waist high putters. (Was labelled VIP elitist?)
re: See (Below) N Land (Closed) > o/s Prices are also converted by inflation to read as current Oz price!

Conversion Rate Key is kept simple! (Calculated as 1hr cost from Park Hours/Waves offered)
Eg: Water Park Pools (Avg 8 hrs) or ( Packs of 10x 2-4 a/h) converted to standard 1/hr Entry
This is why the one size Hourly Price was adopted to acquire a Universal / hr Wave Park Comparison.
Also checks same/similar "Tech" within this universally converted price scale!

$100 Water Park entry for 10 hrs buys unlimited Party Wash or similar unlimited Quality Waves / hr
10 surfer $1,000 Pack splits less but better 100 waves/hr = $100/10 solo / LR waves per a/h session!

*Heritage Listed Wave Pools { The Classics } Can start with examples of Conversion...
1934 Gallert Spa Wave Pool ~ Hungary (Bodysurf Only > Unlimited Waves)
$3.70 hr is scaled down from the larger "Required" all day Entry Price
1939 Palatinus - Hungary ( a/h Foam Boards )
$23/hr is scaled down from minimum Entry Fee + 2hrs for Expert Boardrider Sessions
1969 Big Surf -US (All Hard Craft a/h)
$51/hr Mandated Beach Club Membership (Insurance) + 1hr Booking

*Free Wave Pools: (Research also drew same conclusion of free Community Ocean Wave Pools)
Sydney Ocean Pools serve up immense free wave power all day long!
Free: Singapore occasionally offer free opening Wave Pool am sessions to attract Families & Seniors
$2 will also buy infinite access as some Singapore Wave Pools are open 24hrs...(No Boards)

*Bodybashin' Haunts & Tsunami Wave Pools (No Boogerz)
$4hr Sun City SA +Similar (Bodysurfers can surf 30 quality waves / hr) > No Boards (Only Training Promos!)
Most (Clean up set!) Tsunami Pools double as Night Owl SurfBoard rider's Breakwalls.
Pool is noted for "Some" half decent pool changes for basherz but No a/h boardrider sessions.
Crew can even see that it attracts committed bodysurfers...tbb salutes this rare insightful dedication!

*Towering Tubers (Global Pools really put out some power for endless tossing about!)
$5hr Solid Spiked Diamond Grid > Tube Riders are insanely Tossed 2-3m Skyward.
Although many report can go all in for a floggin' or ease on out for gentle swayin'
$10hr Outback Bay also has freakish Peaks + Clean line ups...also well worth a clean face bash.
Tip : YouTube [ Corfu Aqualand ] for 30 sec Air Show!

*Bodyboard (Open) Wave Pools
$1hr Vic ( Indoor) Micro Grom Boogerz Party Waves
$1hr Darwin ( Int' Comps) Unlimited Quality Party Waves.

*Pier Mount Bodyboard Wave Pools
$3.50 Oz Breaker Pier Queue Mount (Solo Booger rides to shore) > Fastest growing [L] 2 Surf Market!
Very clever to split the Family Party Wave Pool market into VIP Pester Powered Booger Mums
Hodads recall hanging in mile long queues for Toboggan Aqua Slides > personalized Booger Version!
Each rider carves their own signature into their own pet WOTD...(A Monumental Sea change!)

*Flow Boardz / Boogerz > book 10 riders who often fall off so each rotate 6x 1 minute Rides
$10hr (Oz /Asian Comps) > $30hr City Flow Riderz often add on Peak Pool Entry / Club Fees.

*Lake Flow (Local EU Comps)
$65hr EU Unit Yuppies ($25 Club / insurance Fee) Hard Boards are Fine in these Lake models!

*Riverwaves (Have also held Comps) Operates as other flow waves (Above)
Extra : Depends on Group Size > Only 5 surfers = 30 mins ( But pay same as 10 surfers = 1hr )
1 hr is the base block payment...if less book then remaining riders only get 30mins (Not 2x waves!)
$35 Traun River Wave Shaper Austria (Hard Boards are fine in River Models)

End Notes on Flow Waves...
Larger queues form at Natural River Flows
These new adjustable commercial River Flows can widen for extra surfers on the face...
Flows & Guidelines are flexi to ramp 1 > 2 then 2 > 4 to rush Peak Holiday queues.
Again! It's hard to gauge Time for each surfer as all changes as quick as this report! Splash!
This may include Helmets for Vert Surfers alongside're up next...move it!

*Artificial Reefs (Uni urged Council to implement pay as you surf for Palm Beach Reef)
Surprisingly tbb can price the cost to Surf an inshore SEQ reef! Huh? How? (Already operating!)
Current Oz / Qld Reefs are funded by Fishing "Licences $58/yr "> Reef Sessions are 1hr/day (Max)
Locals-o/s Surfers would pay $58 for a Surf Licence for 1hr/day Reef Surfing as all other Qldurrz...well durr!
Mind you! This is exclusive to #1 swellnet ... tbb is happy to share local insight on Surf Reef Pricing!

*Surfboard Entry Level (Unlimited Waves) Surf & return until legs drop off...30 waves+
$23/hr Palatinus -Hungary (Foam Boards - See Above!)
$12/hr Splash House -US (Fibre Glass Boards) This being a rare straight up actual 1hr fee.
These entry Pools just plug'n'go...very few pool rules...plenty can enter/exit whenever/wherever

*1st + 2nd Gen Boardriders Non Starters
$5hr Dorney Park US (ASP Comp) Sorry no Boards!
$4hr Sun City SA (Comps) Sorry no boards!

*2nd Gen ( Mostly a/h Water Park Pools )
$18hr Typhoon Lagoon US (Comps) 1 solo wave/hr (Reduce Surfers > pay more, for more Waves/hr)
Disney Party Pack invites the cheapest Wave Pool Party Tote bag... Each throw in $20 for own WOTD.
$30hr WEM Canada (Comps / Club Fee + Mandate [L] sessions) 7 Mall waves/hr
$51hr Big Surf US (Comps-see Heritage Listed Pools) Club Fees ... 3 waves/hr
$52hr Siam Wave Park Canary Islands (World Comp) 4 waves/hr but can mix L/R
$73hr Sunway Malaysia (Pro Promos) > 8 waves/hr
$95hr Wadi Dubai (World Comps) > 6 waves/hr

*2nd Gen Standalone Wave Pool
$90hr Kobe Reyes Japan > 12 waves/hr (Runs L/R A Frame)

$88 Snowdonia Wales (World Comp/s) > 12 waves/hr
$95 N Land (Closed) > 12 waves/hr (Converted current Oz price for comparison!)
$500 The Ranch US (WSL CT Comps) > 2 a/h Premium Waves /hr (From cheapest 4hr nite Pack Rats)

*March of The Mods (+m = Less waves/hr but Longer Rides)
$82hr (56m) Turtle Island (South Korea Comps)10 waves/hr (Longest WG Rides)
$98hr (40m) The Wave (UK Comps)13 waves/hr (Shortest WG Rides)
$144hr (46m) Urbnsurf Oz (WSL QS Comp) 11 waves/hr
$172hr (46m) Alaia Bay Switzerland (WSL format Comps) 10 waves/hr
Alaia Bay requires 2x $172hr Expert sessions to take on the Beast.
(End note: WG Pools also vary in size & shape!) Not just about the Mods!

*Pneumatic Fanatics
$126hr Surf Stadium (Japan Comps) 10 waves/hr
$185hr American Dream (Local Comps) 13-17 waves/hr (Note : A frame variation!)
$190hr BSR Waco (US Comps) 10 waves/hr
Some Pools switch direction + other is A Frame with preferred Right!
This is why tbb pulled back from Wave/hr Top 10...too many variables to call it!

*Wave Pools Cost (n/a)
Endless Surf 12 waves/hr (Estimated)
Surf Lakes 12 waves/hr (Proposed)
Surf Loch 10 waves/hr (Hinted)

# Further reading & Credits to Wave Pool Tech Sites 2018-2022 > Price Checks

+ This Map lists past proposals as well as new proposals

swellnet crew are happy to share...Enjoy yer first/next/last Wave Pool Session or Surfjustsurf.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher Wednesday, 28 Jun 2023 at 3:15pm

Cheers udo...they just started work on the Surf Center.
A lot of news this to Surf Center Forum...