[REN #783] Real Estate: Surfing in the Desert

Picture of wave for Real Estate News for Investors Podcast Episode #783

You may not need to live near the beach to go surfing. The joy of surfing on a perfect wave can now be found at public “wave resorts” that are popping up around the world. One that will break ground this year is headed for the Southern California desert near Palm Springs in the Coachella Valley. And, it’s not the only one in the planning stages for this region.

I don’t know if artificial waves can replace the breathtaking beauty of a perfect ocean wave, but this is certainly exciting news for surfers. The one headed for the Palm Springs area will spread across 5.5 acres and will be part of an 18-acre world-class resort with hotel rooms, villas, restaurants, and shops.

Surfing on Artificial Waves

An article in Surfer Today says it will be able to produce 1,000 waves per hour that range from 1.5 inches to about 8 feet tall. It says the waves will break simultaneously across six different surfing zones and that each area will offer waves of different sizes and strength. The software to create the waves, called Wavegarden, will be able to produce 30 types of waves. Surfers of different skill levels will be able to choose waves that best suit their abilities, including beginners and children.

Developer Desert Wave Ventures is planning to break ground sometime this year, with a 2021 finish date. Co-founder John Luff told The Wall Street Journal that surfers will be able to design their wave patterns ahead of time. (1) He says you’ll be able to “save a playlist of different wave types and hit the play button and go all day.”

Wave Pool Beginnings

Wave pools have been around for many years. According to the Wall Street Journal, they got their start in the late 1970s and became popular after a 1987 movie called “North Shore.” Since then, wave technology has advanced and can produce waves that resemble the real thing, on command.

The surf lagoon business is just starting to take off, but there are a handful already in existence. You’ll find wave parks in Waco, Texas: Tempe, Arizona; Orlando, Florida; and the central California town of Lemoore. The one in Waco is being used as a training ground for the first U.S. Olympic Surf Team. Gear Junkie describes that wave pool as a “field of dreams” for surfers. The blog says, it can create “consistent, near-perfect, head-high waves at a rate of 150 per hour.” You probably won’t find that kind of consistency in the ocean.

Desert Surf Ventures also has big expansion plans and hopes to create wave parks in Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington D.C. after the one near Palm Springs. But the Palm Springs area is turning into a hot market for wave pools.

A realtor newsletter for the Coachella Valley says there’s a wave pool race underway in that region. A Hawaii-based company that built the one in Texas is among them. Honokea Surf Villages & Resorts is reportedly under contract for an outdoor recreation facility in the city of Indio. That’s located in the eastern end of the Coachella Valley. The project will include a skate park, a BMX track, an aquatic track for stand-up paddle boarding, and a surf lagoon.

Luft of Desert Ventures and the founder of Surf Park Central says the development of surf parks has been picking up steam over the last five years. He says, we’ll probably see dozens more across the country in the coming years, and potentially more than one or two in the Coachella Valley. Because of the sun and the warm temperatures, he says Palm Springs and the surrounding area is one of top markets for surf parks.

Wave Pools Will Attract Millennials

This is the kind of attraction that can help change the demographics of a region. The Coachella Valley has attracted golfers and snowbirds for decades. It has also gained a reputation as a place for retirees and older folks. That perception has changed to some degree because of events like the spring music festivals in the city of Coachella. But the addition of these surf parks will likely attract a lot of younger folks. Home prices are also attractive in this area, compared to the rest of California.

As for the cost of surfing in a wave pool – you’ll spend more for the artificial waves, than an afternoon in the ocean. The Wall Street Journal says you’ll pay about $135 an hour to surf, and as much as $450 a night for a hotel room. But you will get other benefits for your money, including the ability to pick your waves. You also won’t have to worry about sharks.


(1) Wall Street Journal Article

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