Traveling to Texas, I knew there was one thing I would have to work in if the chance ever presented itself, and that was to make the pilgrimage to Waco to visit the BSR Surf Resort. The park was recently re-opened after the changing of the filtration system due to the tragic death of a New Jersey surfer last year who contracted a brain eating amoeba somewhere along his trip (was confirmed to not be the wave pool).
With the added 1.5 million dollar filtration system, the water color was made more clear, from the once murky green water that it was. The wave now kind of reminded me of a tropical sand bottom wave, with a light blue crystal color. Definitely an upgrade!
Getting to BSR Surf Resort in Waco, Texas
As for how to get there – if you land in Austin, you’re going to want to rent a car. Waco is about 1.5 hours away. Speed limit is between 65-80 the whole time. If you’re hauling butt to return your rental car, you’re also going to want to get the toll package for 12.99/day. Thanks for that head’s up Advantage!
BSR Surf Ranch is located in the middle of farmlands, and when you approach it you’ll be able to see the top of the launching slides from over a hill. From there you’ll turn right down a pretty rough looking road, and eventually get to a dirt road.You’ll turn right again onto the property – you’ll see the sign, and then you’re going to drive all the way down the path. The surf resort it to the left and across from the wakeboarding pro shop.
The main building has a nice indoor hangout area. Board rentals – plenty of firewires and slater boards. I didn’t check out the sizes since I brought my own, but rental seemed pretty cheap for 2-4 hours.This is also where you’ll find the check in and surf shop. Plenty of cool BSR shirts to pick up. They have a good shirt designer and quality tees, which I honestly wasn’t fully expecting.
Behind the check-in wall you’ll also find tables and board racks for hanging out between sessions. Outside of the building to the left they have a grill and outside tables set up for food, and along the building they have seating on the bottom and second floors.The second floor gives a cool perspective of the wave that you don’t normally see on instagram or in videos.
All along the water they also have covered woodden cabanas with soft cushioned seating, and plenty of tanning chairs for the non-surfers. I took over a cabana, because why wouldn’t you? They’re also equipped with fans for the hotter summer days.
Some insider info from photographers per Janet (@jr9lives) you’re going to want to hang out in the far corners or on the pool walls to look into the wave. You could also hop on the 2nd floor of the main building for a bird’s eye view of the lineup.
How BSR Sessions Work
Prior to this trip I asked around to friends who have already made the trip, and based on their input (and a few sold out sessions) I landed on booking 2 expert wave sessions at BSR Surf Resort.
During these sessions, the surf park allows for 9 slots per hour for $100. Within these 9 person sessions you get grouped into teams of 3, and those are your surf buddies for your hour session, so make sure you pick a couple of cool guys from the crowd! Everyone in the water will be all smiles after experiencing their first wave here. We were all shooting the breeze in my sessions.
I picked some early morning sessions so that I could book it back to Florida at 5pm. My sessions were 9am & 11am. I figured earlier is always better for winds anyways. Leading up to the trip weather was kind of all over the place, with some days saying heavy storms, and some saying bright and sunny.
Weather ended up falling on the latter, with bright sunny skies, and winds out of the NW at about 9mph. weather was a low of 60 and high of 80 for the day, and water temps were in the low-mid 60s. Honestly, with the sun out, by 11am it was fully boardshort and top weather if you’re used to colder waters likein California.
Prior to my surf day at BSR, the area experienced heavy rains for most of Friday & Saturday. This added water ended up making the waves a little bigger and heavier with extra water being in the pool, so keep that in mind.
Prepping for your Session at BSR Surf Resort
I would recommend that if you do the 9am session you do your waiver online prior, and get there about 20-25 minutes early. This is mainly to get your gear dialed in and put your wetsuit on. I’m habitually late however, so I showed up with 10 minutes to spare and grabbed my wristband and hauled ass to assemble my gear and get into my suit.
Good thing I have years of experience in swimming and deck changing to get the job done quick!
The Staff at BSR
Staff at the front desk was friendly, and everyone I saw along the way said hello as well. I didn’t know what to expect due to some people’s reviews onlineprior to the session. I’ll say that everyone was courteous and there to help you out!
Prior to getting on deck for waves you’ll have to check in at the front desk, and they will have your wristbands prepped for you with your times on them. Mine was ready and waiting for me when I arrived, and the girl up front slung it over to me before finishing helping out a few other guys at the counter (MUCH appreciated!).
Photographers at BSR Surf
One thing I didn’t find out however was that if you bring a photographer with you, they are able to enter the BSR Surf Resort at the SAME TIME as the surfer who is in the session. Looking on the website I only saw 11am for beach guests. So keep that in mind if you’re bringing someone to shoot in water or on land!! Our photographer Janet was scheduled to come in at 11am for the second session because we didn’t know.
If you don’t have your own photographer you should get in contact with Rob Henson (@robhensonsurfshots). He’s who you’ll see plenty of photos from at BSR!
If you’re a photographer, you pretty much have the lay of the land once inside. There are some good spots in the corners to get unique views, you can post up on the walls, or even on the 2nd story of the main building.
I even saw one group bring in their own water photographer for those up close and personal barrel riding shots (I assume they just sign a waiver like the rest of the surfers-I’d probably call in for that).
What to bring for your session at BSR Surf park
- Your Favorite chest high surf surfboard (or 2)
- Leash (optional)
- Extra set of fins & key
- Wetsuit, springsuit, top (depending on the weather)
- Surf Shirt or Rashguard for hot Texas summer
- Appropriate wax (our water was around 60 degrees)
BSR Surf Resort Expert Waves
SO now for the good part – THE WAVES. Waves come in sets of 3 at 10 second intervals. In between each wave is a fake wave – YOU DO NOT GO ON THIS WAVE. So in each set you’ll see 6 waves. waves 1, 3, and 5 are the ones you go on. Also if you’re a regular foot, you’re going front-side off the start of your session, so be ready.
If you’re a regular-foot, you’ll want the winds to be coming out of the Northwest with the way the wind is positioned. This will give you the cleanest wave possible for the rights. That’s the setup I had during my session.
The takeoff zone is a little different for each wave. On the wall of the pool you’ll see numbers. You’ll want to position yourself at number 5 (on both sides), and you’ll primarily be taking off right in between 5-6.
The 3 Wave Expert Set at BSR
BSR Wave #1
The first wave of the set is primarily the cleanest and great for 2-3 big hits and some barrels. You’ll want to take off about a body length away from the wall for this one. The wave starts off as a small bump off the wall, and stacks as it pushes down the bottom contour, turning into a great wave for vertical surfing.
BSR Wave #2
The second wave at BSR Surf Resort comes after the first betweener wave (that you don’t catch) and is a little easier to time than the first wave because you can see it coming and you know where the prior wave broke. The first one just starts as a weird lump. This wave is the easiest one to stall off the bat into a tube, and maybe link into a turn and another barrel in the end section.There are even a few that come through where you can get tubed for the entirety of the wave.
BSR Wave #3
The third wave is kind of a freak wave. For this one you’ll want to be maybe a body length and a half away from the wall. It breaks a little further out from the wall, and has a rampy end section for airs. Dropping into this one you’ll want to haul butt off of the start and start eyeing your section down the line for a big hack or punt. This one also tubes in the end section if you’re fast enough to get there.
This was the only wave I missed once due to being too close to the wall the catch the peak of the wedge. If you’re too close to the wall you’re missing this one every time. This comes into play for the other pool dynamic that you’ll read about in a minute.
Keep in mind that each wave will be a little different each time due to all of the water moving around and pushing back up to the starting point.
The same thing that applies to the rights will apply to the lefts. The hardest wave in the pool to get is the 3rd wave on the left in my opinion (keep in mind I’m also goofy and saying this). I watched everyone miss it consistently who were in the wrong spot.
Bonus Waves at BSR
If you’re in a group of 9 (sold-out session), this is where the fun comes into play. If you can get into a group that goes before a group of lesser-experienced surfers, then this is where you’re going to get your monies’ worth out of the pool.
After your 3 wave set if you make it to the end of your wave or don’t blow it out towards the beach, you can go and hug the wall for a free ride back up to the point. This will also allow you to catch extra waves.
Keep your eye on who can catch waves and surf, and who can’t. They’re going to be your best friends! When you’re scrambling into the “bonus waves,” you will not want to be super close to the wall. I’d say you’ll probably want to be a body length away from it.
Where to Sit for Bonus Waves
If you wait a little bit before the mid-point of the lineup (if you’re facing the peak) then you can scramble for the waves that people blow on the take-off. In my session it was happening almost every 2/ 3 people.
When someone misses a wave you’ll need to go into full on scramble mode. Turn and burn baby! A proper take-off will allow you one end barrel, or 1-2 turns. After that, you hop back next to the wall and float back to the top -skipping grabbing another wave from the next group. One note on this – if you take the bonus and blow it, you’re going to have to get back to the beach and jog back to the point to not miss your next wave.
This happened to me a couple of times and left me kind of winded going straight back into my next wave. Be in shape if you’re going to go for some bonus sections!!! This can easily rack up your wave count or give you redemption if you miss or blow a section.
What if you can’t catch waves?
If you’re blowing it in the lineup, BSR does have an experienced surfer in the water there to guide you. I surfed with Brian, and he was a super cool guy out in the lineup. He definitely had a dream job. Also – if you’re reading this amigo, I forgot to nab your instagram handle! Come find us! And thanks for letting me nab some of your bonus wave sections haha!
But if you’re not confident in reading waves and knowing when to take off, you may honestly be wasting your money. Especially if you’re choosing the expert session. You should probably be in the intermediate if you have doubts or catch less waves than you think you should (in the ocean or the pool).
Other Surf Info for Surfing BSR
A final side note – you will get warning from the tower when your sets on one side are almost complete, and when you have 15 minutes left in your session. That tower will also blast punk-rock, indie-pop, and rock and roll – so be ready to get pumped like you’re in a surf movie. I had everything from Mighty Mighty Bosstones to The Ramones to the Strokes to Foster the people. That was definitely an added bonus to not being in the ocean.
Weather vs. the BSR Wave
By the time 11am rolled around, the wind kind of ramped up to it’s forecasted speed (early morning was dead). This made the rights stand tall, and the lefts get a little trickier to navigate to the end sections – especially on wave 3.
It’s kind of funny how wind can affect a wave even in a pool! The wind however wasn’t enough to blow it out, it just made it slightly less crisp.
Selecting your Equipment for BSR Surfing
I’d say this one is totally surfer preference. I was concerned about how punchy or soft the wave would be, so I brought a couple of boards for different conditions. I’m 5’11” and 160lbs, also a seasoned expert swimmer/water polo player, and I was rocking a 5’6″ FireWire Mini-Driver by Matt Biolos. Foam volume is about 26L on that bad boy (Thanks Crepe Man!)
I had no trouble getting into waves. I only blew one takeoff because I nose dove myself screwing around (don’t worry I got my redemption wave for that one). There were however other surfers in the lineup with more foam volume who were not adept at reading waves or generating enough paddle speed to keep up with the wave, and this is when people would miss the takeoff (and give me a free wave. Not mad about it.)
Bring your favorite Chest High Beach Break Surfboard
I would bring any board that you are comfortable riding a 4-5ft punchy beach break with. That’ll be plenty to catch and surf the BSR waves. Be ready to go vertical or stall for a tube, just don’t get too high on the wave.
There is no shortage of power in the wave. Don’t expect any style of mushy wave at this place.
Pro-Tips for Falling
When you fall out towards the beach be prepared to be merked by a couple of waves. The bottom of the pool has zero traction due to the vinyl lining, so when you get hit you’re going to go for a slide. I was able to keep vertical while getting hit, but that’s all going to depend on your balance.
You also will NOT be able to duck-dive incoming whitewater unless you are right before where the wave is crashing on the waist deep water. Don’t even try. The water is not deep enough to facilitate a dive.
You also want to avoid plunging head first into the flats. Remember, this wave is breaking in waist high water. That’s a great opportunity to receive a spinal injury – and to give the lifeguards a panic attack.
Make a day of the BSR Surf Park
I would definitely plan to make a day out of BSR Surf Resort. The facility is top-notch, and I had just as much fun watching as I did surfing the actual wave. It’ll be especially fun if you have your own little peanut gallery under the cabana.
The After Surf Munchies near BSR – Magnolia Market Silos
While you’re in Waco, there’s also a sweet lunch/hangout spot to hit – Magnolia Market. It’s got a really cool Midwest hangout vibe and quality food trucks. It’s about 20 minutes from BSR towards Austin. Be warned though it is a heavy tourist spot because it has something to do with HGTV, but they do have a multitude of free parking spots.
The inside of the courtyard is lined with permanent food trucks. The grilled cheese place was pretty darned decent combined with a sweet tea from the Alabama sweet tea food truck. That’s right folks – SWEET TEA FOOD TRUCK!!!
Plenty of families are hanging outside, it has lots of shade cover, and a cool industrial design. Definitely a post-surf meal spot. Beware that some lots before the place charge parking – there’s a giant free parking lot behind the Magnolia Market that I assume is at full capacity on weekends. Also free parking along the side roads. Don’t pay to park.
Eating around Austin, Texas
If you stop by Austin – be sure to hit up Terry Black’s for bbq – it blew every bbq spot out of the water from Food Network both times I’ve been through. And there’s also a breakfast taco spot called Juan in a Million if you land in the morning really close to the airport. This is a high profile local spot with super amazing and cheap breakfast tacos. It is super authentic mexican that’s family owned. The owner even stopped in to greet everyone like he’d known them forever with a big high five handshake.
BSR Surf Resort in Review
As I sit here flying back to Florida totally surfed out, sun crisped, and full of food truck noms, I look back only wishing I’d scheduled a full day for BSR Surf Resort and food truck goodness.
The waves fired all day, the sun was out, and everyone was hanging around with a shit eating grin on their face like they just found the new surf mecca.
It’s hard not to get the wave of the day when every wave is the wave of the day.
Need More Info? Hit us up!
If you need any other insider info about BSR, be sure to leave a comment below, check out our insta, or shoot me a message – I’ll help you get dialed in for an epic day.
Full Gallery of BSR Surf Resort Photos