For the ultimate surf vacation, head to Waco Surf in Texas

Texas is a large, almost unfathomable state. As such, it’s not terribly surprising to learn that its tallest peak is nearly 9,000 feet tall, or that El Paso is closer to San Diego than Houston. But the weirdest fun geographical fact of all might be that you can go surfing in central Texas, an area that has a beach but noticeably lacks an ocean.

For this anomaly, you can thank Waco-Surfa 500-acre resort centered around a lake that draws visitors to its man-made beach, surf center, wakeboard park, massive waterslides, and the longest lazy river in the United States. And you thought Waco was just famous for Baylor and Joanna Gaines.

Planning a trip to Waco Surf is relatively easy as it’s an all-in-one destination with a hotel, restaurants, bars, and plenty to do. Here is an overview of what you can expect when you arrive.

What’s new at Waco Surf

The original park opened in 2012 as a barefoot water ski training facility, adding other features over the years including the cable park, slides and surf. The new owners bought the property in March 2021 and have invested millions of dollars in the complex, with the final adjustments just completed in May this year.

On-site accommodations have been upgraded, with expanded suites and renovated rooms at the Waco Surf Hotel, and new decor sourced from Round Top’s vintage markets. Food and drink options have been improved and they have launched beginner academies which offer lessons for new surfers and wakeboarders. There is also now a heated recovery pool, where you can relax after a long day of water activities.

Looking for the perfect wave? PerfectSwell has you covered.


Surfboard or wakeboard? Or Lazy River?

The surf is achieved through PerfectSwell, a technology that creates waves reminiscent of those you’ll find on real ocean beaches. The waves can be controlled to allow beginners and experts alike, and if you’re new to it (like most people in Central Texas), you can book lessons to learn the ropes.

If wakeboarding is your thing, the park has a cable tow operation on the lake, so you can fly through the water at speeds of 16 miles per hour, all without a boat. Bring your own equipment, or rent some locally, before hitting the ramps, rails and jumps.

At some point, head to the Wetlands, where you’ll find a separate pool, and the Wedge, a series of four waterslides that vary in slope and launch angle. You don’t just shoot through the water like a normal slide – here you’ll find yourself on an upward slope that propels you up and out for an eventual water landing. It’s hard to look graceful while thrashing about in the air, but you’ll be in good company.

If you need a break from all that vigorous activity, hang out at the Beach Club in a lounge chair or cabana and watch the action around you. Or score a tube and take a dip on the lazy river, where you can relax and float without moving a muscle.

Poolside bars and patios with views

You can’t go surfing, wakeboarding and belly riding without taking the time to refuel. The usual food by the lake involves cold beers, and these are plentiful at the pool bar, but you can also eat tacos and burgers and drink good coffee.

The Surfside Shack serves breakfast tacos and brews coffee with fresh beans from Pinewood Roasters in Waco. The Dive Bar is an aquatic situation, so you can stay in the water while sipping beer, wine and cocktails. The Wedge Grill cooks up a wicked burger in view of the slides, so you can watch the people take to the air while you eat. And the Lakeside Saloon has a large wraparound patio adjacent to the wakeboard park, where you can relax and eat after shredding a few wakes. While you’re there, look towards this small island in the middle of the water. Then take a closer look and you may spot lemurs – yes, lemurs – that live on the island.

People on inner tubes on the lazy river at Waco Surf in Texas

Catch us on the lazy river.


Do you want to stay there? You have options.

Located between Austin and Dallas, Waco Surf is an easy day trip for many Texans. If you are staying overnight in Waco, you can choose from a variety of nearby hotels. But if you want to stay put and be the first to participate in all the morning activities, the choice is yours.

The newly renovated Waco Surf Hotel has 13 rooms that vary in size and view, and booking a night comes with activity passes. The Waco Surf Cabins are located along the wakeboard lake, and there are seven of them – two of which can accommodate up to 14 people, which is useful if you’re traveling with a crowd. The three bedrooms, two bathrooms Waco Surf LakeHouse is located on a private lake just behind the resort; it can accommodate up to 10 people and offers a view of the lake, a private pool, a private dock and a grill, so you can prepare a well-deserved dinner in the evening. And if you’re stopping for a bigger road trip that involves a house on wheels, you can use the RV hookups.

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