Don't get dinged for car rental insurance you don't need or damage you didn't cause! Learn more.

Big Surf Waterpark

1500 N. McClintock Dr./Hayden Rd
Tempe, AZ 85281

480- 994-2297

History

Did you know that Big Surf Waterpark opened on October 24, 1969? In 1965, four years before the “surf center” opened, it was just an idea thought of by a man named Phil Dexter.  Dexter took that idea and in 1966 built the first model of his wave machine…in his backyard!

The following year he built a larger-scaled model in an abandonded billiards hall in Phoenix.  A fully engineered model was built later in 1967, and in the same year Clairol Inc., came on board to help further develop the wave machine.  Construction of Big Surf began in January of 1969 in Tempe, Arizona.  In September of that year, the surf center opened with a press conference and live surfing demonstration by World Surfing Champion Fred Hemmings Jr.  Now, 43 years later, Big Surf Waterpark is home to America’s original wave pool and features over a dozen additional rides for all ages! The famed wave pool is the third-largest in the world, holding 2.5 million gallons of water.

Big Surf served as more than just a surf center.  It was a popular destination for numerous concerts from musicians like: Pink Floyd, Elton John, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Beach Boys, Chicago, Sting, Rod Stewart and many, many more.  The concert tradition was revived in 2011 with two Sound Wave Electronic Dance Music festivals.  Big Surf was also featured in two motion pictures: Just One of the Guys (1985) and Storm of the Century (1999).

Images provided by AmericanTowns.com, Ticketmaster
Please use "Flag This Place" to alert us about content that is inappropriate or needs immediate attention. Nothing you submit will be shared with other site visitors.

Upcoming AARP Events

View All AARP Events »

AARP Member Card

Join or Renew Today

JOIN FOR JUST $16 A YEAR

  • Immediate access to your member benefits
  • Discounts on travel and everyday savings
  • Subscription to the award-winning AARP The Magazine
  • An ally on the issues that matter most to you in Tempe
  • Free membership for your spouse or partner
JOIN NOW