If you live in the UK and want to have a fantastic day out then you should really consider heading the The Wave in Bristol. Inland surfing lakes mean you get consistent waves all day, so you can really learn to surf to a high standard all year round. We enjoyed our visit to The Wave and have some tips on how to make the most out of your stay.
Reasons To Visit The Wave
You get a guaranteed, consistent wave to develop your skills.
A fun day out for you and the family
The perfect group activity, so fun for birthdays, stags and hen celebrations.
Get There Early
It’s definitely worth arriving well before your allotted surf time. I recommend getting there an hour before you are due to surf. The sessions are timed so you want to ensure you have time to get everything together to get in the water. You don’t want to be turning up late as they will not allow you to get into the water if you are late. So get there early and be ready to go.
The car park there is a relatively long walk to the actual wave itself. I went with kids and it took between 10 to 15 minutes walking. If you’ve got a skateboard or scooters that would be ideal. Definitely take everything from the car with you. You don’t want to leave anything in the car because it’s a long way back.
The benefit of being early is you can have more time to scope out the entire area. There is a lot going on at The Wave and given the level of construction, there is going to be a lot there in the future. I enjoyed looking around the shops and updating my wardrobe.
The extra time also meant that there wasn’t a mad rush to get signed in, which is the most important thing. When you sign in you will get your jersey to wear over your wetsuit. Once done you can get your wetsuit on, get changed and make any alterations, such as waxing up boards, sticking in fins and all those things that take a lot of time. An early arrival means you will be well prepared, warmed up and ready to go. Fifteen minutes before your session they call a safety meeting and just explain the rules and then you’re off into the water.
There’s nothing worse than having to run around panicking if you’re late. You end up making mistakes. If it’s cold and you are in a rush you could end up missing out on your gloves, hood or booties and then you’d be sick as a pig!
Turn Up The Volume
One important note about surfing in these man made waves is the buoyancy of your surfboard. There are different properties in freshwater to seawater. One slight difference you may find when surfing your normal surfboard is that it has a slightly different flotation level. I have surfed at Surf Snowdonia and The Wave and found that my smaller boards were a little underpowered. This also had an impact when catching waves as I didn’t have as much speed paddling into waves. I found it more difficult catching the waves so I’d recommend having a board with a little bit more volume; maybe two to three litres more than your traditional surfboard for surfing the sea.
This strategy also helps with paddling into waves and makes it easier keeping that speed throughout the wave. It also means less struggle when you want to head back out to the line up. Your arms can get pretty tired during your session as you know exactly when each wave is coming. Normally when I surf in the sea I can time my rest periods. When surfing at The Wave, you want to make the most of your session, so you become a busy bee with all the paddling and little rest.
Having a higher volume is beneficial for the advanced surfer when it comes time to do your cutbacks. After the initial drop-in, the wave starts to flatten out so that’s the perfect time to cut back. I saw a lot of people struggle with smaller boards unless they were a very good surfer. So having a board with a little bit more volume will make cutting back to the peak a little bit easier. Keeping the speed in your turns will help you get the most out of the wave and ultimately give you more fun throughout your session.
Stay Close To The Rail
I learnt this tip during my first trip to Surf Snowdonia. The lifeguard who got to surf the wave all the time noticed that I missed a couple of waves and pointed out that you need to be really close to the rails to get the initial push needed.
There are lines marked out the wall to indicate the take off zones. The lines indicate the area where you should sit to take off and this is where the wave is going to start breaking. My advice to you would be, on your first attempt to sit behind the first line as it gives the best opportunity to be able to catch it. If you don’t catch it, move forward towards the second line and you’re definitely going to catch it as it starts to crumble and you get pushed down the face. Taking off right by the wall will give you a big push down to the face of the wave. This will help generate speed for that first bottom turn.
Choose The Right Wave
There is always a desire to be better than you are, it’s why we end up making progress. However, with surfing and especially this wave, you will want to make sure you are in the right zone.
During my time at the Wave I saw many surfers struggling with their pop-up and weren’t catching any waves. This is because they’d chosen to surf the advanced wave. There were a lot of bail outs and people weren’t riding the wave at all.
I recommend that if you are going to surf the advanced section only do so if you can definitely catch waves relatively easy. In choosing, ensure that you can pop up well and that you can surf and either direction. Ideally you will already be able to do some kind of a cut back and definitely be able to master turns.
The reason for this is that you don’t want to go all the way to Bristol and spend your hard earned money and then not actually surf because you’re not at the right level yet. It’s the same as people who work out. If you want to lift heavy weights, then it’s important to put the hard work in first by getting strong on lighter weights.
If you can’t surf the advanced level I recommend going to the intermediate level. The waves are going to be a lot smaller, but they are still small waves that you can enjoy and improve on. It will also ensure you’re not going to spend most of the time underneath the water.
The wave length is only 15 seconds long so it does pass by quite quickly. You want to maximise your time in the waves. If you’re there for the first time you only get maybe 10 waves, 15 waves if you are lucky, so you really want to maximise your time.
Make A Day Of It
It was a couple of hours drive to get to Bristol so I didn’t just want to stay for one session. Given that this is a fairly unique experience I would recommend staying for a few hours. For us it was such a great experience going to The Wave. We had so much fun exploring and just watching that waves. I recommend you get two sessions in to maximise the entire experience. Leaving a gap of one or two hours before each session will give you plenty of recovery time. It will also mean you can eat and browse the shops and have a feed at one of the food outlets on site.
Wetsuit Gear Needed
The season you go in might impact this advice but even so you definitely want to take all of your wetsuit gear. That means hood, gloves and boots. If you are going in Winter they will definitely want to be thick. It was pretty cold there when we went. I’d highly recommend taking those boots and gloves they were definitely needed. It’s a cold water lake and inland so it’s a slightly different temperature to the normal sea temperature. It wasn’t as warm as the sea and we are in there all year round. This pool is not headed so be prepared.
Surf perfect waves all year round at The Wave in Bristol
The Wave opened its doors in Autumn 2019 and offers safe waves, all year round. Its 180 metre surfing lake has three different wave breaks, which make it ideal for everyone – from a child stepping on a board for the first time, to a professional training for the Olympics.
The Wave brings surfing, nature and a fresh way of thinking, to people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. It is the first inland surfing venue in the northern hemisphere to use Wavegarden Cove technology, providing up to 1,000 waves of varying sizes and shapes an hour. Every aspect of the surfing experience has been designed to ensure that surfing really is fun for all, whatever your ability.
The surfing lake is at its heart, but The Wave is not just about surfing. It’s about sharing incredible experiences, getting back to nature, improving health and wellbeing and having a shedload of fun. As well as the surfing lake, there’s a Clubhouse serving delicious food and drinks and a brilliant surf shop. As the site developed it also now offers beautiful gardens, meadowland, woodland and family-friendly camping.
The Wave in numbers:
● A £25 million project
● 9 years in the making
● The 75 acre site includes a 180m surfing lake, Clubhouse, surf shop, cafe and bar, gardens, woodland and meadowland
● 25 safari tents opening next spring
● 16,000 trees and 570m of new hedgerow will be planted on the site, along with 13.5 acres of wildflower meadowland
● The Wavegarden Cove technology, powering The Wave, has the ability to produce up to 1.000 waves an hour – around a wave every 10 seconds.
● Wave heights start at 50cm and peak at 1.8m
● 26 million litres of water fill the lake
● To date, The Wave has created over 90 jobs
● One further site, The Wave London, is planned for Lee Valley Regional Park in 2023
Where is The Wave?
The Wave is located in a beautiful rural site on the edge of Bristol, close to the M5. It is open year-round and a one-hour surf will cost from £40 for an adult and £30 for a child, depending on the time of year and day of the week. A 1.5 hour surf session with coaching costs £55 for an adult and £45 for a child. All prices include everything you need, including a wetsuit, wetsuit boots and surfboards. There are dedicated areas of the lake for beginner, intermediate and advanced surfers.
If you are a complete beginner to surfing and fancy learning here, they offer fantastic lessons with really friendly coaches. There are lessons available for all abilities, so if you think of yourself as an intermediate surfer but want to touch up your technique then book yourself in. You can book lessons here.
Go for a surf at The Wave to experience the unique thrill of catching your first wave and spend time in nature. Reawaken your senses, revive the best version of you, share incredible experiences and put a huge smile on your face. Not sure what you’ll need to take with you? Check out out Top 10 Surf essentials.
To find out more about The Wave, click here.