Having grown up surfing on Oahu, I was more than a little intrigued when it was recently announced that a wave pool surfing resort is planned for West Oahu in 2017. Evidently, in addition to the wave pool, the Endless Summer Surf Resort will feature 400 units and a surf museum on four acres. The actual site has yet to be selected, but several locations are reportedly being considered.
The announcement got me thinking, “I wonder what Oahu surfers have to say about this.” Given the nature of the internet community to inundate comment boards and forums with comments about just about anything, I figured that the online reports of the planned development would be inundated with all manner of opinions on a surf resort on Oahu.
I was wrong. I found none. Apparently, Oahu’s surfing community has responded to the news with a resounding “Meh.” I can think of a couple of reasons why this is so.
Oahu surfers don’t plan on ever paying to surf. And unless they are guests of the resort, they will have to. The very idea is absurd even to me, and I haven’t surfed regularly for years.
The free waves are better, anyway. Artificial wave technology has come a long way since the days of the laughably feeble “Big Surf” in the Arizona desert in the late 1980s, where I visited while attending college there. Stationary or standing waves now provide a fairly exciting tube ride and chance for maneuvers, but it’s just one wave. More advanced systems generate rolling waves. In places like England, Dubai and Wisconsin, all of which have wave pools but few ride-able waves, a wave pool makes sense. But here on Oahu, where we enjoy high quality surf year-round (although even a short flat spell can seem like an eternity for die-hards), I’m not sure it does. Not for Oahu surfers at any rate.
The waves on Oahu are already crowded. Why pay to surf a wave with who-knows-how-many visitors? Most of them are like to be novices to boot. I seems beyond unlikely that Oahu’s surfers would choose to pay to surf a crowded wave pool when they can surf the crowded real thing for free.
There is no doubt that the Endless Summer Surf Resort would be good for the West Oahu community. In an area most noted for its impoverished residents and struggling schools, the construction and resort jobs and revenue stream the resort will generate will be welcomed indeed.
But as far as I can tell, the prevailing sentiment among surfers, whose attentions are more directed toward the next wave rather than the socio-economic impact of the construction of a major resort, is “Who cares?”