Lonely Planet Writer

Stetsons and speedos merge at America’s first inland surf park

Once upon a time, it was impossible to find a good wave 300 miles from the nearest ocean, but no more. This month, NLand, America’s first surf park, opened in Austin, Texas.

The surf park is a 14 acre lagoon
The surf park is a 14 acre lagoon Image by Nland

The surf park is a 14-acre lagoon that caters to surfers at every level. “As a surfer and an engineer, NLand has been a dream of mine for the past 20 years,” founder and CEO Doug Coors said in a statement. With the help of Spanish engineering firm Wavegarden, considered to be a leader in wave technology, his dream has become a reality. Options range from the bay, perfect for beginners, to the reef, with its steep and challenging “high performance waves” meant for seasoned surfers.

Austin enjoys 300 days of sunshine each year.
Austin enjoys 300 days of sunshine each year. Image by Nland

And the park won’t be taxing the region’s water resources. Citing his family’s “rich history of water conservation and environmental stewardship,” these considerations were paramount in Coors’ conception and execution of the project. The lagoon is 100% self-sustaining, holding eleven million gallons of rainwater (collected via a rainwater catchment system on the property) and then gets filtered naturally before becoming consistently perfect waves.

The lagoon holds 11 million gallons of rainwater
The lagoon holds eleven million gallons of rainwater Image by Nland

Coaches and clinics are available for rookies and those hoping to improve their skills, and for $5, spectators can purchase a shore pass that allows them to get an up close view of the action from dry land. And because surf culture practically requires it, there’s also a Juice Bar on premises and restaurant serving locally-sourced fare, including quintessential surfer fuel like the Loco Moco — a burger patty set atop a mountain of rice, a fried egg, and gravy.

But why Texas? “Why not? Austin has the perfect blend of attributes for a project like this,” Coors explains to Lonely Planet. “Austinites love the outdoors, are active, and embrace innovation. The city enjoys 300 days of sunshine each year and it’s growing by leaps and bounds.”  Only ten minutes from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, surf’s up at NLand.