A few weeks back American Surf Parks announced a new Surf Pool project in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Centered around a pool outfitted with the Wavegarden Cove technology (already being used commercially at URBNSurf Melbourne and The Wave in England), the Surfworks Adventure Park will also host an amphitheater, skate park, rock climbing walls, pools, restaurants, bars, shops and much more. Wanting to hear more about the project, we reached out to Phil Dixon — the founder of American Surf Parks — and asked him a few questions.
What first drew you to the artificial surf world?
We all just want to surf more [laughs]. Myrtle Beach has a great surf community and a tremendous amount of tourists looking for lessons during the summer months. However, we rarely get good waves due to the gently sloping continental shelf. So, for that reason, we’re often driving to Wilmington and Hatteras, or flying to Puerto Rico for quality surf. Now, we realize a surf park doesn’t replace surfing in the ocean, but it definitely helps us surf more often.
Talk a about how your company, American Surf Parks, came to fruition.
Our company started in 2016. It was founded to explore the viability of a surf park in Myrtle Beach. In partnership with Colliers International, we took a very close look at the Myrtle Beach market to confirm our assumptions and decided that this was indeed a project worth pursuing.
Is Surfworks Adventure Park the first you’ve spearheaded?
Yep, Surfworks will be our first, but we’re looking at other locations for similar developments.
How many pools did you visit in your research? How many did you surf?
At the time, there weren’t a lot of full size test facilities out there.
We visited the Wavegarden headquarters in late 2016. That trip gave us a chance to meet the Wavegarden team and surf their new technology, called the ‘Cove’. That was a real eye-opening experience. The Cove tech was this giant leap forward from any other technology out there, and it still is, really. The frequency of waves per hour, in particular, was mind blowing. But, that was just the icing on the cake. They also solved all the other issues with other technologies. They created a high capacity lagoon that fit on a relatively small footprint. They created a modular system that doesn’t have a single point of failure and sits above the water for easy maintenance. The list of innovations went on and on. Wavegarden also deserves a lot of credit for building a full size test facility, which takes a serious investment and really meant a lot to us.
It sounds as though surfing will be the centerpiece, but you’ll also have skateboarding, and an amphitheater on site. We imagine pairing a music venue with surfing and skating provides some really unique event opportunities.
Surfing is the centerpiece of the project, but we’ve added a lot of complimentary attractions around the lagoon. We want everyone to have a good time, even if they don’t pick up a surfboard. We’re planning a main restaurant on the second floor of our hub building with open-air seating and awesome views of the lagoon. In addition, we’ll have a brewery on-site and a two-story cantina. Other features include a surf shop, surf academy, high diving, free solo water climbing, huge slides, carver skate park, pools, hot tubs, volleyball, splash pad, playground, child care, 36 nightly bungalow rentals…the list goes on.
As well, in partnership with the City of Myrtle Beach, we’ll also be delivering a five-acre amphitheater with grass sloped seating for around 10,000 people. This will create a lot of great opportunities for overlapping concerts and surf events in the future.