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The New North Shore: This Future Texas Roadtrip Could Bring You to Seven Different Surf Parks

By Jess Ponting

Texas was an early adopter of second-generation surf parks. With two parks open to the public, a third coming any minute now, a fourth due in 2025, and three more allegedly in the pipeline, Texas is on track to become a new frontier for inland surfing. Should all these developments come to pass, Texas would have seven surfparks representing six different wave-making technologies within a relatively small radius. In this article, we look at the state of play in Texas and plan a four day, seven park surf trip to a best case scenario in Texas of 2026.

The History of Texas Surf Parks

Beginning in 2016, the ill-fated NLand Surf Park Wavegarden Lagoon in Austin was, for a time, the biggest and best surf park in the country. Unfortunately, it closed permanently just three years later.  

NLand Surf Park

The property is now owned by WSL, which purchased it with the intention of opening a KSWaveCo facility on site. The image below shows the WSL’s plans for the site submitted to the City of Austin for permitting purposes.

WSL Plans for the Surf Ranch Austin on the former NLand Surf Park site

Two years later, in 2018, the World Surf League and its roster of professional surfers were staging The Founders Cup. This was the first specialty pro surfing event sanctioned by the World Surf League to be held at a surf park. Unsurprisingly, the venue was the WSL Surf Ranch in the Central Valley of California powered by KSWaveCo tech. The contest celebrated those who were the ‘founders’ of pro surfing – notably Fred Hemmings, Randy Rarick, Peter ‘PT’ Townend, Shaun Tomson, Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew, Mark Richards, and Ian ‘Kanga’ Cairns. 

Rabbit Bartholomew, Shaun Tomson, Fred Hemmings, Ian Cairns, and Mark Richards attend The Founders Cup at the WSL Surf Ranch

Legends, the lot of ‘em. Most have attended Surf Park Summit, PT, Shaun and Ian are regulars. 

However, in a fairly bizarre turn of events, the WSL forgot to invite an entire gender that started a pro tour at the same time as men to share in the accolades for the founding of pro surfing. Perhaps in karmic retribution for this oversight, the spotlight was rudely snatched away just 24 hours after the Founder’s Cup executed its 1980s-style snub of women’s pro surfing and seized center stage of the global surfpark theater. Hawaiian Seth Moniz landed the first backflip ever performed in a surf park at the newly opened American Wave Machines lagoon at the BSR Surf Resort, now Waco Surf, in Waco, Texas, forever changing perceptions of the town and bringing new economic life and energy to the region.

Seth Moniz Midway Through a Masterful Viral Guerilla Marketing Maneuver for Waco Surf

Texas then took a six year nap in terms of surfpark openings. Now, in 2024, Fireside Surf may be the first in a series of new surf-anchored attractions to open in Texas. Just an hour and a half drive from Waco Surf, Fireside opened in late February 2024 and is a Citywave installation with a full bar and restaurant, owned and operated by two former green berets, Billy Adams and Patton Nix. You might be familiar with the healing power of surfing being made available to veterans in the ocean (if not, watch the Netflix short documentary Resurface, just do it, it will leave an impact), Billy and Patton are taking the next step and leveraging the power of a surf anchored attraction to provide veterans with training and employment opportunities. It is a genuinely great mission and a great facility run by inspiring owner/operators who forged their own path in financing their surf park.

Fireside Surf From Above – Open since February 2024

Just 45 minutes down the road from Fireside Surf, GoodSurf is set to open to the public in the very near future. Another Citywave installation, GoodSurf was driven by Surf Park Summit regular and owner of Citywave North America Andrew Limbocker. It includes a bar and restaurant with a broader beach theme incorporating additional beach sports and is set to open in the very near future. 

GoodSurf Getting Ready to Launch

A little further afield in Houston, Beach Street Development’s HTX Surf will be the next surf park to open in 2025 in Generation Park—memberships are already being sold. In addition to a large Endless Surf lagoon, HTX incorporates a pump track, event lawns, a resort-style pool, and F&B.

HTX Surf Rendering

A little further out on the timeline and probability scale is the 400-acre ‘Pura Vida’ high adventure community, just south of Austin’s International airport and 15 minutes from downtown. The $1.3 billion development is set to incorporate a 12-acre Surf Lakes lagoon at its center. 

Pura Vida High Adventure Community Rendering

Sapphire Bay

Meanwhile, 40 minutes from Dallas Fort Worth airport and 17 miles east of downtown Dallas, the $1 billion dollar, 117 acre Sapphire Bay development is planning to build 1.7 million square feet of commercial real estate, 1100 hotel keys, 1500 residential units, AND a 600ft long SurfLoch lagoon. In addition to barrels up to 7 feet high, the ‘Surf Village’ will have lazy rivers, swim up bars, beaches, private cabanas, beachfront rooms and private palapas.

 Sapphire Bay Resort Rendering

And that, friends, is seven potential surf parks for Texas in the coming years. We have come to understand that attrition between announcements and opening to the public is real and that percentages are high (50%? More?). However, I think it makes for an interesting thought experiment to suspend our disbelief for a second and imagine the maximum surf park future for Texas as it stands with the current projects in operation and in the development pipeline. What would a surf trip that hit each one of these parks look like? Let’s assume it’s 2026, the world is still turning, all seven surf parks are open to the public, and you’ve got a week off work.

7 Surf Parks in 7 Days? You Could Do it in 4

For the sake of the thought experiment, let’s start in the north and head south. For those flying in, the convenience is remarkable. Fly into Dallas, rent a car, fly out of Houston. The surfparks at either end are very close to airports. The trip would be 460 miles total with a total travel time of just under 7 hours. If daily travel time can be limited to 2.5 hours, the 2023 Surf Park Central Consumer Trends Report shows that 1 in 3 (34%) respondents would travel up to 2.5 hours to a high quality surfpark and just less than half (45%) of the advanced surfers in the sample group (n=1024) would do the same. This is a good size addressable market given the 3.5 million surfers in the US alone. 

Source: 2023 Surf Park Central Consumer Trends Report

So  for the truly surfpark curious, in an imaginable near future it would be possible to take the following surf trip from Dallas to Houston via Waco and Austin and keep daily travel in-state to 2.5 hours-ish or below. Mostly way below. It would be intense and you’d be exhausted but with prebooked sessions and no unforeseen traffic snafus it is entirely feasible.

Travel Times and Distances Between Texas Surf Parks

Surf Park TravelDistanceDrive Time
Fireside Surf to Sapphire Bay34 miles20 mins
Sapphire Bay to GoodSurf22 miles26 mins
GoodSurf to Waco Surf100 miles1 hr 30 mins
Waco Surf to Austin Surf Ranch122 miles1hr 50 mins
Austin Surf Ranch to Pura Vida High Adventure Community14 miles10 mins
Pura Vida High Adventure Community to HTX168 miles2 hrs 40 mins
Total460 miles6 hrs 54 mins

Here is what an aggressive four-day program hitting all seven surf parks could look like.

Day 1. Arrive or start at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, spend a half day at Fireside Surf, then head over to Sapphire Bay, 20 minutes away, for an afternoon session and spend the night.

Day 2. Make the 26-minute drive for an early warm up and breakfast at GoodSurf, then make the hour-and-a-half drive to Waco Surf for the afternoon session and spend the night. 

Day 3. Leave early for the one hour and 50 minute drive to Austin where, assuming a favorable business model allows a half day booking at KSWaveCo facility followed by a 10 minute drive to the Pura Vida High Adventure Community for an afternoon session on the Surf Lakes and overnight stay. 

Day 4. Another early start for the just over 2.5 hour drive to Houston and HTX arriving mid morning for a pre and post lunch surf session before taking an evening flight out of Houston to your home.

Let’s assume our individual surf park spend is going to be $290 (the average surf park spend in 2023 according to the SPC Consumer Trends Report) – the KSWaveCo stop might put a significant dent in this budget, but let’s keep the assumption at $290 per stop. From a pricing perspective, this comes out at $2030 for eight hours of surfing on dynamic waves (likely 80 – 120 waves), 4 hours of standing wave sessions, and maybe even a handful of KSWaveCo leg burners. 

Anyone who has surfed in a Surfpark knows that two hours in the basin will leave you physically depleted – so this would really be a combined workout/surf trip. Does this represent value for hassle free guaranteed waves of reliable quality on demand at any time of the year, or day or night? Will the ‘four day Texas scramble’ become the surf trip of the future? I think it might be for folks with limited time, an unfavorable surf forecast, and an appetite for good-quality waves without localism (or sharks).

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