Cowabunga Bay Is a Water Park Oasis in the Vegas Desert

Cowabunga Bay Las Vegas water park.
Cowabunga Bay

It gets mighty hot in Las Vegas. And don't give me that "dry heat" stuff. It's just plain hot. That's why a water park is a natural—an oasis, if you will—in the city. For many years, however, visitors and residents were unable to strip down on the Strip and board a water slide.

The original Wet 'n' Wild closed in 2004, and despite some false starts, nothing replaced it. Until 2013. That's when a new Wet 'n Wild Las Vegas opened in a new location with new owners. And Cowabunga Bay Las Vegas (which is actually located in nearby Henderson, Nevada) opened its gates in 2014. The owners run another Cowabunga Bay water park in Draper, Utah.

About the same size as its wet and wild competitor (both are large, major parks that would provide plenty of fun on a sweltering day), Cowabunga Bay offers comparable slides, rides, and attractions. It also features some groundbreaking, first-of-their-kind water park rides. The theme is retro 1950s (and has nothing to do with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles who inexplicably use the surfers' slang, "cowabunga," as one of their catchphrases).

Park Highlights

  • Wild Surf, the first ride of its kind anywhere, sends passengers soaring down an enclosed tube in four-passenger rafts and into an open funnel. The park says the funnel contains the world's biggest man-made wave. Passengers crash through the wave and then ride up and down the funnel a few times before exiting.
  • Good Vibrations is a water slide that sends riders aboard tubes through closed and open tube track as well as into what the park calls "rebound chambers." The enclosed mini funnels send the tubes momentarily soaring up and down their walls before sending them on their way. Good Vibrations is the first ride of its kind at a North American water park.
  • Zuma Zooma starts at a dizzying height of 73 feet and uses a launch capsule to send passengers zooming into a 360-degree horizontal loop.
  • Rock-A-Hoola is a water park bowl ride.
  • Beach Blanket Banzai is a family raft ride in which groups of four navigate the slide's twists and turns.

Other Park Features

  • Surfin' USA is a racing slide with a U.S. flags theme.
  • Beach Blanket Banzai is a family raft ride.
  • Cowabunga Splash is an enormous interactive water play structure with multiple slides, sprayers and other water gizmos to trigger, and a huge water bucket.
  • Cowabunga River is the park's themed lazy river.
  • Surf-A-Rama is a wave pool.
  • Cowabunga Kids Cove is the park's area for pint-sized visitors.

Admission Info, Location, and Directions

The park is open seasonally from March through September. Daily passes include unlimited use of all attractions. Special discounts are available on certain days and for certain groups (such as locals). Season passes are available. Tickets can be purchased online. For an operating schedule, discount info, and to purchase tickets online. go to Cowabunga Bay Las Vegas' official site.

Cowabunga Bay is located at the intersection of Gibson Road and Galleria Drive in Henderson, Nevada, near the Galleria Mall. About 15 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip. Take Exit 64A off of I-515/US-95.

What's to Eat?

The park offers a food stand with choices such as pizza, burgers, and other fast food staples. There is also Dippin' Dots ice cream and a wide variety of other frozen treats including Dole Whip, ICEEs, frozen bananas, and ice cream cookie sandwiches. Cowabunga Bay offers a bar with wine, beer, and mixed drinks (this is Vegas after all).


  • Wear sandals. The desert sun can make the park's walkways uncomfortable for unprotected feet.
  • For the love of God, use sunscreen. You know how your mom warned you about sunburns? Multiply it by a factor of a gazillion to account for Nevada's unforgiving rays.
  • If you want guaranteed seating and some pampering, rent a private cabana. They include charging stations for your electronics, on-call host service to deliver food, drinks, towels, and other amenities, and safes to store your valuables.
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