Big Surf Waterpark - An Arizona Tradition

Big Surf Waterpark – An Arizona Tradition

Big Surf Waterpark

Summer gets unbearably hot in the Arizona desert. Even swimming doesn’t beat the heat but it sure makes in a little easier to take. I grew up hearing my mom’s stories about Big Surf Waterpark in Tempe, Arizona and loved it when we got to visit the waterpark ourselves. Big Surf has changed a lot since my mom frequented it in the 70s but it still remains an Arizona treasure and a fantastic summer tradition. If you live in Arizona or just travel through sometime during swimming season, I highly recommend that you visit Big Surf.

Big Surf’s main feature is its huge wave pool which unleashes a big wave every three minutes. The wave pool is one of the largest in the United States and is open to all, however, swimmers under 48 inches tall must wear a life jacket (Big Surf provides these free of charge). The wave pool was originally sand with a beach. I used to think that was so cool because it was like going to the beach without leaving Arizona. However, being barefoot in 110 degree sand is not exactly fun. Big Surf now has cool decking and a really neat system of paths with streams that keep your feet wet and cool. Here is a shot of the wave pool taken from my shady spot under a palapa.

Big Surf Waterpark

Big Surf has many slides to choose from including some for the brave of heart and an area of baby slides as well. My daughter spent quite a bit of time at the Tahitian Twisters slides. These slides are part of an area for smaller kiddos that is just north of the wave pool. The section even has a covered seating area in the pool facing the kiddie slides so parents can watch the kiddos slide from the comfort of a cool and shady spot.Big Surf Waterpark

My son prefers a more adrenaline inducing experience and his Big Surf favorites are the Hurricane Slides. I am not brave enough for this sort of thing so I just met him at the bottom and snapped his picture. The middle slide is his favorite because it starts off as an almost straight drop down.

Big Surf Waterpark

Big Surf is not as big some other local waterparks but that is a huge plus for me. One thing I really love about Big Surf is that you can conquer the whole park in one day while still feeling relaxed and kicked back. Big surf has a big and centralized seating area with grass and a great view of the wave pool. Other parks have sacrificed seating areas and open space in favor of cramming in yet another slide. Big surf is good, old-fashioned family fun on a manageable scale. Big Surf Waterpark gets a big thumbs up from my family.

Big Surf Waterpark

About Janice

I am so glad you stopped by. Kick your shoes off and hang with me a while. I am an Arizona native, wife to a hard-working hubby, mom of two, and daughter of the King. I love sharing recipes, crafts, and family activities that any mom can do. Life is complicated enough, right? When I am not up to my ears in laundry, dishes, and creating for Celebrating Family, you will also find me at East Valley Mom Guide. Come follow me on Google +, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.


  1. I love Big Surf! Great post.

  2. Debra Wagner says

    Brings back memories! When I was a teenager me and my little sister Linda went almost every weekend .All they had back then was the main wave pool, but they also had major Rock concerts and we had a blast! (early 70’s) I have never been on the slides at big surf but would love to try!

  3. prefer slides. thanks!

  4. Definitely have to go there when we come back to visit!!

  5. I would prefer the wave pool, but I’m sure my kids would say the slides look like fun.

  6. Jessie C. says

    This looks super fun, I love water park!

  7. My kiddos are defendant water babies. Since we are so close to the Colorado River we spend our water time there. My kids have been to amusement parks but so far have not been to a water park. The Big Surf looks like a great place to bring my 13 & 8 year old for some safer water fun.

  8. Gennie Lancaster says

    I prefer the wave pool.

  9. Sara Livingston says

    I prefer the wave pool

  10. Lisa Spencer says

    prefer wave pool

  11. Slides, they are a blast!!! Thank you

  12. wave pool! too many urban myths about slides!


    I love hanging out in the wave pools!!!

  14. Have never been, but would love to go!

  15. I think I’d prefer the wave pool

  16. wave pool for sure.

  17. The slides are the best

  18. I have never been! We just moved here in March. My kids (though adults now) would love this! I prefer the wave pool, personally, but they have always loved the slides.

  19. Love the wave pool. 🙂

  20. Virginia says

    I love the wave pool!

  21. I prefer the Wave Pool… My daughter prefers the slides!! (Slides Win) Would love to introduce her to Big Surf, I remember it well as a child myself 🙂

  22. Stephanie R. says

    I prefer the slides!

  23. Stephanie R. says

    I’ve lived in AZ for 9 years and have never been to any of the waterparks. I would love to go!

  24. Stephanie Daigneault says

    Big Surf is always a good time!

  25. Tami Chambers says

    I have not been in many years. Back then loved the wave pool.. Now with little kids probably like the slides better. 🙂

  26. Mommy Pamela says

    I am an Arizona native and remember going to Big Surf. The wave pool and the slides were awesome and I remember wanting to live in California when the waves would come out and rush over me. Thanks for helping bring back some fond memories!

  27. Derek Timm says

    I love the slides!

  28. Nicole Lancaster says

    I prefer the Wave pool. It’s so much fun to hold on to a raft and let the waves crash on you.

  29. We like the slides when there aren’t long lines.

  30. I’ve actually never been…. not sure what I’d prefer yet!

  31. Slides, but without the long lines!

  32. Julie Hawkins says

    I prefer slides

  33. Slides for sure!!

  34. My kids have never been to a waterpark! They would love to win this!!

  35. Debbie F says

    I haven’t been to Big Surf since hubby and I were newlyweds 34 years ago. I see that it had changed a lot. I would like to take the grandkids there now.

  36. Both slides and the wave pool! That’s really cool that they have the kids wear life jackets in the wave pool. I haven’t taken my kids to one yet but I have bad memories about a friend at a wave pool and I would be a little worried with my kids in it.

  37. Jessica Babcock says

    I love the wave pool but my kids would love the slides!

  38. Love that place.

  39. The slides!!!

  40. Nicole potratz says

    I prefer the wave pool.

  41. I definitely prefer the wave pool, but my girls will LOVE the slides!

  42. Melissa B says

    We have never been to Big Surf. But I am sure my kids would love the wave pool.

  43. Melissa Diaz-Acosta says

    Definitely wave pools

  44. My son loved the wave pool. Get tickets at the arizona ave costco. $20 which included $10 food voucher

  45. We love the wave pool.

  46. Lisa Spencer says

    Prefer Slides

  47. Love me some Big Surf!!!!!

  48. Waves….I always get stuck on the slides!! LOL

  49. Mommy Pamela says

    Looks like fun and I loved the wave pool!

  50. kim snyder says


  51. Stephanie says

    I need to get here soon!

  52. Slides!

  53. Randee Giberson says

    Wave pool all the way. Relaxing!

  54. Slides!

  55. Melissa B says

    Wave pool

  56. i really want to take my 4 year old son, he has never been

  57. I’m a native and I’ve actually never been! My kids would love it!

  58. I prefer wave pools. My kids would love to go!