Arizona Highways: Discover Arizona's first water park, Big Surf

TEMPE, AZ - When Arizona hits the triple digits, one place to cool off is at the ocean.

The only problem is, the closest ocean is an almost 6 hour drive from the Valley.

But what we do have is the original Big Surf Waterpark in Tempe.

It's been around since 1969 and recently was given a historic designation from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Today the Waikiki Beach Wave Pool gets 100,000 visitors and uses the same engines and machinery installed in 1969, according to the Phoenix Business Journal.

For Arizona, it's like having a private beach getaway.

"I like that, you know, when it's a hot day over 100 degrees I can come out and swim in the "ocean," or a semi-ocean since we live in the desert -- it's a nice way to cool off," Big Surf fan Isabel Miller said.

Where else can you "hang ten" in a landscape of cactus and prickly pear?

Jeff Golner of Big Surf Waterpark says the best part about Big Surf is its size. There may be people waiting to surf, but because it's so big and there's a lot to do, you don't have to stand in the sun or on the hot cement.

Big Surf started in October 1969 as a surf center, the inventor's real intention was for it to be a place for people to enjoy surfing.

But the place soon became a haven for body surfers and others just wanting to cool off.

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