Luxurious surf community nestled in the sand and sagebrush of southern Utah

hurricane • “If everyone had an ocean across the United States… Then everyone would surf, like California does,” the Beach Boys sang in their 1963 signature hit “Surfin’ in the USA.”

Six decades later, few would probably envision the site on a bluff 410 miles east of the Southern California coast as a surfing community. There are no “bushy, bushy blonde hairstyles” or “huarache sandals.” And the area, often shrouded in blown sand, looks more like a set fit for a Lawrence of Arabia sequel than the sea.

However, ask anyone on site and they will assure you that change is in the winds – that the site is a game changer in southwest Utah. Welcome to Southern Shores, a private, luxury “surf community” emerging amid desert sands and sagebrush in Hurricane Valley, about 20 miles east of St. George.

Jason Christensen, President of Immaculate Homes, is clearly excited about the project he has worked with his wife Brittany and Cody Larkin for nearly a decade to bring to fruition.

“This will be the first surfing community in Utah,” Christensen said. “There will be the second largest standing surfing wave in the United States. And the new technology that is in it probably makes us unique in the world right now.”

But can a private, luxury surfing community in the middle of a windswept desert be cool enough to thrive? Christensen insists it’s possible – and he’s banking on it. He and his partners have poured millions of dollars into the resort so far.

life in luxury

Once fully developed, Southern Shores will have three lakes. The main boating lake, which is 500 feet wide and 2,400 feet (eight football pitches) long, is used for water skiing, wakeboarding, and wakeskiing. The 100-by-700-foot surf lake is reserved for surfing, paddling, and swimming. The third is a cable lake, the same size as its surfing counterpart, with cables to pull wakeboarders over floating rails, ramps, and other obstacles.

Southern Shores will also feature 56 luxury homes on lots ranging in size from just under half an acre to 8/10 acres. The prices for the 34 lots on the main lake – for the property alone – are up to 2.5 million US dollars. The remaining lots adjacent to the surf and cable car lakes range from $622,000 to $1.1 million.

(Mark Eddington | The Salt Lake Tribune) Surf Lake, the second largest of the three lakes on the South Shore with a wave generator, is a new development being built in Hurricane and is Utah’s first private luxury surfing community.

Lakefront property owners have their own private boathouses. Each lake is stocked with largemouth bass, bass and other fish for anglers. Parks, tennis, pickleball and volleyball courts round out Southern Shores’ recreational offerings.

As unique as Southern Shores is, it’s not Utah’s first private watersports community. A few others are already in the game, including Last Chance Lakes in Tooele County, but they’re missing a surf pool.

The perfect wave

What sets Southern Shores apart is its floating UNIT Surf Pool, which creates a consistent, near-perfect standing wave that is height adjustable for surfers of all abilities and is deeper and more technologically advanced than cruise ship surf waves.

“On the surf waves of a cruise ship, you’re riding a small board without fins over an inch or two of water that’s being pushed toward you,” said Jessica O’Leary, co-founder of wakeboarding legend Tony Finn of Waves & Water. “It doesn’t require any skill… UNIT Surf Pools allow surfers to use boards with fins on them and improve or acquire skills that transfer to surfing the ocean.”

Made in Germany, the Southern Shores standing wave surf pool cost more than $1.5 million and is one of the most advanced in the world. At 52 feet wide, it is one of the widest in the country and the second largest after the one that recently opened in Hawaii. Christensen said the UNIT Surf Pool is water, energy and cost efficient.

“The water keeps circulating,” he said, adding that the hourly cost of running the surf pool “is cheaper than running a boat for an hour, and we can bike 20 people around the surf pool in that time.” “

As enthusiastic as Christensen is about Southern Shores, he said he is aware of the visuals of opening a luxury water resort community in southwest Utah, which has been experiencing a severe drought until recently and is still unusually dry.

To that end, he notes that all water rights for the lakes have been secured by private sources – property owners in the area – and the contracts have been approved by the State Water Engineer. The only water that comes from the Washington County Water Conservancy District is used for the custom homes built on the resort, each with artificial grass rather than natural grass.

In addition, Christensen said the lake floors are covered with a synthetic geomembrane liner and other materials to prevent water loss through leakage or seepage. And cement powder was mixed with soil to create a cultivated sandstone-like material that covers the shoreline to prevent water erosion. Additionally, a narrow island of stately palms, oaks and glossy privet divides the main lake to act as a windbreak and reduce water loss through evaporation.

“We’re trying everything we can to keep our water use to a minimum and make sure we’re not wasting water on the ground,” he said.

Christensen estimates the total amount of water that needs to be replaced each year at 135 acres feet due to evaporation. An acre foot is nearly 326,000 gallons, which is enough water to cover an acre of land about a foot deep.

water concerns

Edward Andrechak, water program manager for Conserve Southwest Utah, commends the Southern Shores developers’ conservation efforts, but said the loss of 135 acres of water to evaporation is a major concern.

“That’s 44 million gallons of water just to make up for the water lost through evaporation,” Andrechak said, adding that the amount of water needed to fill the lakes and the water used to do so are not accounted for on the site built houses.

(Mark Eddington | The Salt Lake Tribune) Crews are working on a new waterskiing, wakeboarding and wakesurfing community called Southern Shore, a new project being built in Hurricane, Utah’s first private luxury surfing community. Each of the 34 lakefront homes will have its own boathouse to accommodate a boat.

Andrechak said the Southern Shores community is at odds with Washington County officials’ focus on the transition from a water waster culture to a water conservation culture. Equally egregious, he said, is that the water footprint for development is excessive, especially when it benefits few people.

“We live in a desert,” Andrechak added, “so we should start pretending we live in a desert.”

location… location

While water supplies are always a concern, Southern Shores developers are confident that their conservation efforts and water rights will ensure them a reliable water supply for the foreseeable future.

As a home builder in the St. George area, Christensen said that like everyone else, he was interested in making sure there would be enough water for future homes. He and his family will live in Southern Shores and he said the last thing he wants is to do anything that would harm the environment.

“We invest in the community,” he continued. “We’re not going anywhere and we have absolutely no desire to see it ruined.”

For Jason and Brittany Christensen, Southern Shores is an affair of the heart. The family spends all of their vacations watersports on lakes as far north as Florida, and two of the couple’s children are professional wakeboarders.

Apparently, many others share the Christensens’ love of water. Although most news about Southern Shores was spread by word of mouth, all but one of the project’s expensive lakefront lots were sold. Most buyers are from Northern Utah.

Ironically, location seems to be a major factor in Southern Shores’ popularity. As far from the ocean as it is, it is only 30 minutes from Zion National Park and even closer to Sand Hollow State Park, Copper Rock Golf Course and numerous desert hiking and biking trails.

Robert Bolar, a top luxury real estate agent at Summit Sotheby’s International Realty in St. George, sees the location of the surfing community as a major benefit.

“Luxury homes for sale in Hurricane Valley are highly desirable due to its majestic beauty and abundance of outdoor activities,” Bolar said. “In addition, the valley offers easy access to St. George and major cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City, making it an ideal location for people who want to enjoy a bit of city life without sacrificing their rural tranquility. “

Best of both worlds

For his part, Washington City business owner Zach Cutler hasn’t seen or heard anything to dampen his enthusiasm for Southern Shores. He has already bought a lakefront property and is looking forward to building a home on the property and moving there with his family in a few years.

Cutler, his wife Jennifer and their four daughters are avid boaters who enjoy spending time on the lake together. He said lakes are a place where the kids could put down their phones, hang out together and really socialize.

Unfortunately, he added, the crowds and inconsiderate behavior of some at public lakes have limited the family’s ability to do so. Southern Shores offers families and their guests a safe place to enjoy the Utah lifestyle without having to travel to Florida or California to surf and water ski.

“I’m a red-necked Utah hill boy,” Cutler said. “It’s the best of both worlds. We’re allowed to live here in Utah. And [Southern Shores] will be a great community with great people, Red Rock – and we will have water.”

Editor’s Note • This story is available only to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers. Thank you for supporting local journalism.

Justin Scaccy

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