Summer gets unbearably hot in the Arizona desert. Even swimming doesn’t beat the heat, but it sure makes it a little easier to take. I grew up hearing my mom’s stories about Big Surf Waterpark in Tempe and loved it when we got to visit the water park 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.
Big Surf’s main feature is its huge wave pool that unleashes a big wave every 3 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.
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.
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 is not as big some other local water parks, 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, and it gets a big thumbs-up from my family.