2017 Honokea Wave Pool Industry Review


2017 OVERVIEW: 2017 has been a break out year for surf lagoons. Multiple commercial project are showing consistent profits, Kelly Slater has created a massive amount of hype in the industry, Wavegarden introduced an amazing new technology, major surfing events in wave lagoons are here to stay, and there are a plethora of big real estate projects that are including surfing technologies starting construction this year around the world.

Existing Operations:

1) NLAND SURF PARK (Austin, TX): In it’s second year of operations NLAND operated through the end of November. The COORS group must feel bullish about the numbers as they are already working on a hush hush expansion in Oklahoma. Similar to the previous years operations expert surfer attendance was at nearly full capacity the entire year with a very small existing “surfer” population in the Texas region. On the weekends, there was on average a 3-4 week backlog of reservations for the expert surf experience they call “the reef”.   Over the course of the year they extended daily operating hours.   The beginner surfing experiences were less populated and reservations were limited which could be due to the large amount of available capacity for those experiences. The lack of attendance at NLAND in the beginner surfing experiences we break down into three reasons:

    • Ex. A high end golf training center vs TOP GOLF
  • UNDER DEVELOPED ATTRACTION WITH POOR PLANNING: We won’t touch on design here simply planning — planning greatly contributes to the stay time, efficiency, customer experience of a project. When there is a large water body adjacent to a development creating view driven opportunities are a proven revenue generator:
    • The Bellagio & it’s Fountain (9 acres waterbody: loss leader)
    • The Oasis Restaurant & Lake Travis (highest alcohol seller in the state of Texas prior to Austin’s TOP GOLF)

2) SURF SNOWDONIA (Snowdonia, Wales): In their 3rd year of operations this small scale attraction in the cold country of Wales, and in a town of only 25,000 residents performed very well and has built a name for itself in the region.   They have strong attendance despite the cold weather and remote location 2 hours from any major city. We attribute this success to the diversity in recreation, strong events planning, overnight accommodations and good marketing. They have establish a global presence in the market and people the likes of GO PRO founder Nick Woodman have made the trek to surf their Wavegarden Lagoon® which is impressive given they are smaller than your typical American waterpark.

3) DISNEY’S TYPHOON LAGOON (Orlando, FL): Disney is still operating their wave pool attraction Typhoon Lagoon morning and night as a private surf spot at the cost of $1,500 per session.   This has been happening forever as far as gen Z is concerned, but for those of us who remember not having a cell phone, it has stood to prove the long term demand for private surfing albeit the quality is subpar to what’s currently available.

4) KELLY SLATER SURF RANCH (Lemore, CA): Kelly Slater Wave Co had its break out year in 2017. They brought a wave technology to market that is extremely similar to the Wavegarden Lagoon® technology late December of 2016. So long are the days of wondering if surfers want artificial waves and if people are willing to pay for them. The market has impressively consumed the expert surfing quality of their wave and marketing power of Kelly Slater.   Stars from all generations of surfing and pop culture have been invited to surf. They even held a top tier secret contest to demonstrate the viability of surf contests out of the ocean. Their social media following shows the potential wave lagoons can do for millienial engagement in future real estate developments.   As we have mentioned earlier this technology has certain limitations but has set the bar for the quality artificial waves can provide surfers and surf contest promoters. As you can see from the chart below the KS surf technology has a following that’s larger almost any attraction besides Disney – an the KS attraction has probably only had a couple thousand people through it’s doors.


For decades promoters have done their best to bring surfing events to the public. There have been more than a couple of professional surfing tours and hundreds of big contests since the 50’s. X Games use to have surfing but depending on mother nature to provide waves moved the sport to the back burner. The lack of consistency the ocean provides, the long lag times between waves, and the difficulty of watching live are well know barriers.   All that said, there have been hundreds of successful contests with viewership online hitting over 10M.

TV: Artificial waves offer 3 big things the ocean can’t: a guaranteed date the event can air live, a faster paced event, and an even playing ground for surfers.   Not to take away from knowledge of the ocean and ability to find the best waves, but from a spectators perspective we want good waves with amazing surfers non-stop.

So it’s no surprise that KSWaveCO and World Surf League, who both share the same owner, have announced in 2018 that there will be a world tour event with the top 26 surfers in the world in an artificial lagoon.   They recognize the opportunity for TV type money which is where TV money has been going.   There are currently 26 million surfers on the planet and only 32 on the top surfing tour.   Could there be room for other professional leagues?  THE TEST

Man Made Surf Events EVENTS:

  • Future Classic 2017 @ KSWaveCo Surf Ranch
  • Electric Wave Festival 2016, 2017 @ Surf Snowdonia
  • WSL contest announced for 2018 at KSWaveCo Surf Ranch

FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS (with Wave Attractions by Technology):

Wavegarden: With investment from WeWork, who is currently valued at $20B+, they claim over 20 projects under development including ours in California (although we will mention that for our project type the Cove technology happens to work best)

  • NLAND Oklahoma has not yet been publicly announced but our sources tell us this is underway from the COORS group which must mean they are happy with NLAND Surf Parks Austin’s performance (Oklahoma)
  • Honokea Palm Springs: We at this point will be the only brand bringing Hawaiian culture as main part of our brand and mission and including this in a new type of attraction that provides outlets every age group.

Kelly Slater Wave Company: Owned by Billionaire Dirk Zirk who also owns the World Surf League (WSL) and resides in North Palm Beach Florida

  • KS Surf Ranch (Palm Beach, Florida) opens 2019

American Wave Machines:

  • American Dream (Meadowlands, NJ) 3.7B Megamall will feature an American wave machines wave pool, an indoor theme park, ski slope, skydiving wind tunnel, gigantic Ferris wheel, ice-skating arena, movie theatres and other attractions. Opens 2020
  • Bare Foot Ski Ranch (Waco, Texas) under construction opens 2018

Other developments underway with non-surfing technologies:

Hoakalei Resort (Honolulu, Hawaii) Japanese based developer Haseko is including a small footprint water attraction similar to a Flowrider® from a German based company called City Wave.   It is a surfing themed technology that pumps water over a fixed surface to create a standing wave experience. To read more about the technology and others refer back to our 2017 Wave Technology Guide

Hauʻoli makahiki hou