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Hang Loose at This Surf Park Near Austin

Surf's up for Central Texans at Waco Surf

Waco Surf Park Texas

I was 28 years old when I learned how to surf. It was March 2020, and I had temporarily relocated to New Smyrna Beach, Florida, to spend time with my dad (and on the ocean) during the pandemic. Aside from a few hours of remote work each day, I had nothing to do and a lot of energy to expend. I had messed around riding bikes, running and teaching yoga, all in Texas — but I never claimed any special athletic ability. Luckily, through my previous endeavors, I’d learned balance and perseverance (for example, how to do handstands and gutting out long endurance rides and runs), which I assumed would help me tackle my biggest COVID project: learning to surf.

From high-energy surfing to relaxed lazy river floating at Waco Surf.

Above all else, I didn’t want to look like a “kook,” someone who pretends they can surf but has no skill or style, is stoked on bad waves and maybe even adds danger by breaking the rules of the line-up (the area where surfers wait for the waves to break). So I mostly surfed by myself, carrying my heavy longboard out to a quiet part of the beach every morning to learn how to stand up in incoming white water. Eventually, I paddled out farther, only to wipe out every day for a few weeks. That’s when I finally befriended a real surfer who taught me how to “read” the waves, how to tell from afar which would be most surfable. Three months later, I was catching some unbroken waves. But alas, when I was getting
the hang of it, it was time to return to Austin. I found myself landlocked, dreaming of the ocean breeze and perfect waves.

Florida Surf Instructor’s Recommendation to Texans

A female surf instructor I had met in Florida had told me to check out Waco Surf before I left. She and her husband (both lifelong surfers who owned property in Florida and Nicaragua) had even traveled to Waco to use the facility. If these folks had access to some of the best ocean waves on the continent and still made it to Waco to surf, I certainly would.

Surf lessons for all ages at Waco Surf.

My family lives in Dallas, so I drive through Waco every few months to visit them (and have for the past 12 years, since I moved here to attend college). Before, I rarely stopped, besides sometimes to get a coffee at Common Grounds, a cute coffee house right off the highway. Now, however, I always check the Waco Surf website to see if I can book a surf session the day of my trip.

The first time, I went with a friend who also had some experience surfing, and we chose the intermediate wave. We both wiped out a lot and still had a blast. Since then, despite my hurt ego, I have surfed the beginner wave.

Catch a wave at Waco Surf.

Amy Hunt has been the director of sales and marketing for Waco Surf since May 2021. She grew up surfing on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia, and moved to California to pursue fashion in her 20s. She and her husband (also a surfer and now Waco Surf’s general manager) were originally external consultants for Waco Surf amid new ownership.

“After a few visits to the site (and a few waves), we both went all in, moved from San Diego, and bought a house in Waco,” she says.

With its unique central location, the park attracts folks from across the country, including those coming in from California, Hawaii and Florida on a daily basis — and international guests from places like Australia, Brazil and Sweden on a weekly basis.

World’s Longest Lazy River + Wakeboarding & Water Slides

Waco Surf offers everything on-site for groups to make a trip out of it without leaving the park. Besides the surf park, they have a waterpark — featuring a 5,280-foot lazy river that’s allegedly the longest in the world — as well as four extreme Wedge water slides (that frequently appear on viral social media videos).

Float in the world’s largest lazy river.

There is also a world-renowned cable park that attracts everyone from beginners who want to learn about wakeboarding, to national champs working on their jumps. They recently hosted a college wakeboarding championship with Baylor University and had almost 200 riders from across the country compete on their cable circuit.

The property spans nearly 500 acres, with 150 acres of currently activated space. There is a small hotel on the beach, seven cabins (ranging in size to hold two to 14 people) sitting on the water’s edge of the cable lake, five RV spots tucked away in the forest and two private houses with their own personal pools. So there’s lodging available to accommodate a variety of group sizes and budgets.

Waco Surf Park Texas
Brave ones tackle the giant water slides at Waco Surf.

Frozen Cocktails, Tacos, and More

Over the past five years, they’ve leaned heavily into the food and beverage programs. On the surf side of the park, Surfside Shack serves up tacos, burritos, locally roasted coffee and canned beverages all day. The Star Bar, a recent addition thanks to Rockstar Energy, sits on the second level of the hotel, where you can watch the surfers below as you sip on a cocktail or beer. At the far end of the surf lagoon is a swim-up pool bar, called Dive Bar, that boasts heavy old-school motel vibes.

“We’ve leaned into the theme and added a frozen cocktail machine with our secret marg recipe, perfect for floating around the pool and watching the surf,” Amy says.

Enjoy the swim up bar at Waco Surf.

Over on the water park side is the Wedge Grill, serving up smash burgers, sodas and canned alcoholic beverages right by the action of the four extreme Wedge water slides.

And lastly, don’t forget to check out Lakeside Saloon, which overlooks the cable park and has the best view of the resident lemurs (yep, you read that right), who live on the nearby island in the middle of the water.

For Amy, including other surfer aficionados on staff, the best part of their job is getting folks to surf on the surf park for the first time, which makes about three perfect waves around every 80 seconds (vastly surpassing what would be possible in the ocean).

Have a great day surfing so close to Austin.

“It’s so hard not to catch a smile walking around and talking to the guests about their time with us,” she says. “I think people know the wave is awesome, but it’s not until you get out there and get a wave that you truly understand how magical it is.” While it might be hard to believe, Waco Surf plans to continue expanding its offerings. “With almost 350 acres of inactivated land, we’ve got a few pretty dope things in the works and we’re in it for the long run,” she adds.

Do I look like a kook out there on the beginner wave? Probably, but I don’t care anymore because it’s just that fun, plus the staff and environment at Waco Surf make surfers of all levels feel welcomed, safe and (above all) stoked.