Cowabunga Dream Drop

Cowabunga Dream Drop Slot Review

Slot Provider: Relax Gaming

RTP: 93.99% | Variance: Medium-High | Maximum Win: 6,000x

Our Score: 7.2

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WHY YOU CAN TRUST THIS REVIEW: The information and opinions on this page are the result of an comprehensive process of information gathering and live game testing by the gambling experts who work at Find out more here.

About Cowabunga Dream Drop

Reviewed by:

Published Date: 1st February 2024

How We Review Slot Games

We test and rate all slot games across 5 criteria, assigning a score out of 10 for each and an overall score that is an average of the 5. To build an accurate assessment of each game we gather information from the supplier and play in real play or demo mode. Find out more.

Cowabunga Dream Drop is a medium-high surfing slot from Relax Gaming featuring their multi-million GBP progressive jackpot. This is a 5-reel game with expanding middle reels. The features are simple with random nudges and free spins with guaranteed synching reels the only extras to help push up your wins. The Dream Drop game can randomly trigger at any time for the chance to win one of 5 jackpots including the famous Mega, seeded at £500,000. Spins start at 20p.

Cowabunga Dream Drop Game Information

  • RTP: 93.99%
  • Variance: Medium-High
  • Maximum Win: 6,000x
  • Progressive Jackpot: No
  • Reels: 5
  • Rows: Up To 7
  • Paylines: 243 to 2,087
  • Minimum Stake: £0.20
  • Theme: Sports
  • Features: Wilds, Free Spins, Synching Reels, Expanding Reels, Random Nudges, Dream Drop Progressive Jackpots

Testing Notes: Here’s What Happened When We Played Cowabunga Dream Drop

IMPORTANT: To give you an accurate assessment of the games we review our writers play 200 spins. Whilst this is a useful tool to help us review games and to give an example of what might happen when you play, keep in mind that 200 spins is only a very small sample and cannot be used to accurately predict what might happen over another 200 spins. The outcome of all slots play is always random.

Boom Or Bust? Our Session By The Numbers

I played 300 spins on Cowabunga Slot (without the Dream Drop Jackpot) prior to release to test the game. This is what happened.

  • Stake Size: £1
  • Start balance: £5,000
  • End balance: £4,860.5
  • Hit Rate: 19% (57 winning spins in 300)
  • Biggest Win: 48.6x
  • Free Spins Round: 0

This game is advertised as a medium-high variance slot but to me it felt more like a straight high variance play. The hit rate was lower than I anticipated at just 19% over 300 spins whilst the free spins round never triggered once which is very poor. Of course, this might have just been an unlucky session, and more play would be needed to see if those stats stand up to further testing.

A 48.6x win on Cowabunga Slot
The best win from 300 spins of testing was 48.6x

The highest wins were a 48.6x from 3 rows of red fish, and a 12.8x from the red fish earlier in the session. And of the other features, the expanding reels triggered on 62 occasions – roughly 20% of spins – showing how integral it is to your experience of this slot. But I don’t recall seeing the random nudges more than 4 or 5 times.

In short, the test session was disappointing. The return was low and the gameplay just got too monotonous too quickly for me.

What We Liked

  • Huge progressive jackpots to play for
  • Expanded reels always synch to increase the chances of wins
  • Win ways mechanic makes it easier to trigger payouts
  • Clever expanding reels feature woven into wave design
  • Middle reels always synch in free spins

What We Didn't like

  • Low hit rate - 19% - in testing
  • Features are quite boring
  • Free spins didn't trigger once over 300 spins in testing

Cowabunga Dream Drop Review Scores

  • Theme and Design 7
  • RTP and Variance 8
  • Maximum Win 7
  • Symbols and Paytable 7
  • Features and Gameplay 7

What Our Reviewer Says ...

"A nicely-presented surf slot but a bit too light on features to leave a lasting impression and tighter than expected in testing!"

Overall Score: 7.2

Theme & Design

Our Score 7

Fun, Novelty Surfing Design With Super-Sized Wave

It looks fun for sure, but Cowabunga is a little too simplistic for my tastes and certainly a far cry from evocative slots like Dead Man’s Trail or lavish designs like The Great Pigsby. Instead, this is a basic surf slot set on a beach with palm trees framing a view of the ocean where one giant wave is barrelling towards shore, housing a 5×3 reel set under its crest, populated by classic surf dudes and girls. To be fair, the expanding reels feature is nicely integrated into the design, so the wave grows impressively to towering size when 7 rows are in play, and the surf sounds get louder which is quite atmospheric. But the twangy guitar soundtrack is instantly forgettable and the ‘wow’ and ‘awesomes’ from the surfers can be grating after a while. On the other hand, if you’ve been looking for a surf slot all your life, then welcome …!

Cowabunga Slot by Relax Gaming
Cowabunga Dream Drop – 5 reels housed inside a barreling wave design

RTP and Variance

Our Score 8

What is RTP?

RTP (Return to Player) refers to the amount a game will pay out in cash prizes expressed as a percentage of all the money wagered on that game. For example, a 96% RTP means a game will pay out £96 for every £100 wagered. This is an average number and will vary from one session to the next.  Read more here.

What is Variance?

Variance refers to how far a game will deviate from its RTP over time. High variance games deviate a lot and produce uneven win distributions and unexpected windfalls. Low variance games provide a more stable and even distribution of wins. Read more here.

Cowabunaga comes in with a 96.01% RTP if you are playing the version without the addition of the Dream Drop progressive jackpot, and at 93.99% if you are playing the big money version. This is to account for the 3% slice taken from each bet to be put towards the jackpot pool. Both rates are standard for an online slot, so I have no complaints there. And unlike some competitor studios, Relax Gaming do not provide their games with multiple RTP options so you know you will always be playing at 96.01% or 93.99%.

The volatility rating of Cowabunga is a medium-high making it a little less volatile than other games in the Dream Drop series, something which is reflected in the main game prize configuration. It make this game an easier entry point into the series for those who might be put off by the sky high variance of slots like Neko Nights Dream Drop or TNT Tumble Dream Drop.

Maximum Win

Our Score 7

What Is Maximum Win?

Maximum win refers to the maximum amount a player can win from one spin. It is expressed as a multiple of the stake. For example, where the maximum win is 100,000x, from a £1 stake, the maximum win would be £100,000.  

Outside of those stunning progressives, the max win here is just 6,000x. That puts Cowabunga close to the bottom of the table for Dream Drops. Only Snake Arena Dream Drop with its 2,758x non-progressive max win is lower. You will get much better potential in Templar Tumble 2 Dream Drop (20,000x) and Neko Nights Dream Drop (20,000x) for example. But perhaps this is the trade-off for that slightly more forgiving volatility which gives more risk averse slots players a crack at the big one.

Symbols and Paytable

Our Score 7

The reel configuration in Cowabunga Dream Drop is a little unusual. It starts as a 5 reel, 3 row slot, floating in front of the giant wave about cascade onto the beach, but the middle 3 reels can expand upwards to the crest of the wave to make them 7 rows high. More on that in our features section.

Cowabunga Paytable
Cowabunga Paytable with 2x for top premiums

This is a win ways game. To trigger a win you need to land 3 or more identical symbols across the reels from left to right, starting at the left most reel, regardless of the row they are on. That gives you 243 win ways when there are 3 rows per reel (3x3x3x3x3). And 3,087 win ways when there middle 3 reels expand to 7 high (3x7x7x7x3).

The paytable itself looks underwhelming with low values throughout. The low value symbols are four colored fish in green, blue, orange and red. These are valued at just 0.2x for 5 on a line. The premiums are the 4 surfers – 2 guys and 2 girls. These are valued at up to a maximum of 2x (yes, just 2x!) for 5 on a line.

At least you have a wild, represented by the life ring, to help complete win ways. These substitute for any other pay symbol and pay out 2x for 5 in a win way.

Features and Gameplay

Our Score 7

If you’re not in it for the Dream Drops then Cowabunga feels a bit underwhelming with just a few small features to liven up the gameplay.

Synching and Expanding Reels

The expanding middle reels is a random event that can happen after any spin. Two, or sometimes three of reels 2, 3 and 4, will expand upwards to 7 rows high, displaying matching (synching) symbols on the 4 new rows.

Remember, this is not a paylines slot. It’s a win ways game, so the expanded reels give you a greater chance of completing those win ways. 

Cowabunga Expanded Reels
Middle 3 reels expanded to 6 rows during testing

Random Nudges

As well as expanding reels, there is a random nudge event. In this case, on occasion the reels will nudge downwards after they come to rest to set up a win way.

Free Spins

One good thing about Cowabunga Dream Drop is that you need only TWO scatters to land to trigger the free spins round instead of the usual three. That gets you 5 spins where the middle 3 reels are always synched.

You will also be awarded an extra free spin for every scatter that lands on reel 5 during the free spins.

Big win with red fish in Cowabunga
3 rows of red fish triggering a 48x win in testing

The Dream Drop Jackpot Game

Dream Drop games use a variety of mechanisms to trigger the main event. In this case it’s simple.

There are two steps.

Firstly, you at any time you may be awarded a Jackpot Spin when you hit the spin button. The Jackpot Spin features special DD symbols on the reels. You need one to land on EACH reel to trigger the actual Dream Drop game.

Now the action moves to the Dream Drop grid with 5 reels and 5 rows where only DDs and blanks can land. The DDs from the triggering spin are brought over to this game. Each reel represents one of the jackpots, from Mini on the left to Mega on the right. The reels keep spinning and you keep collecting DDs until one of the reels is filled and the respective JP is triggered.

The 5 jackpot seeds are as follows:

  • Rapid – £1
  • Mini – £5
  • Maxi – £100
  • Major – £25,000
  • Mega – £500,000

The Mega is now capped at £3,000,000. In October 2023 the 11th Mega Dream Drop was won on Volatile Vikings Dream Drop. The lucky player scooped €2,976,908.13 from a 2 euro bet.

The Final Verdict

Cowabunga is a game that needs that Dream Drop progressive to make it worth your time. The simple and uncomplicated gameplay makes it an easy one to play, but it also means you can very quickly lose interest. Watching the wave rise and fall every few spins, and the shark fin swim by every few minutes quickly lost its charm for me. And with a volatile game engine, a high number of dead spins – remember the 19% hit rate – and relatively low max win, this won’t be a game I’ll be itching to come back to. That said, once the Dream Drop is bolted on, the reason to play changes, and if you are a sports or surf fan, it will make a nice entry point to the series.

Useful Tips When Playing Cowabunga Dream Drop

Remember, online slots are games of chance, there is NO strategy that can improve your odds of winning. However, reading our review and following these tips will help you get the most out of your time playing this slot game.

1. Choose A Low Stake

I was surprised at the volatility of this one. It felt like a very tight slot. To manage your bankroll I therefore recommend a low stake – 20p is the minimum – to stretch your balance whilst chasing down those big wins.

2. Look Out For Shark Bonus Symbols

The shark that represents the bonus symbol unlocks the free spins round and unusually you only need TWO to trigger it. So keep your eyes peeled. I landed one on many occasions but never got two on one spin. You might be luckier!

3. Find A Slots Bonus To Play With

You can enjoy Cowabunga without the Dream Drop jackpots using a slots bonus from one of our recommended sites. Bonuses can’t be used on progressives but they are eligible for non-progressive games. I recommend Barz Casino that matches your first deposit up to £300.

4. Play At A UK Licensed Slot Site

We recommend the sites on this page because they are licensed under UK law. That makes them fair, safe and secure and keeps your money and personal information protected.


Who Made Cowabunga Dream Drop?

  • Name: Relax Gaming
  • Established: 2010
  • UK License: Remote 037462-R-319357-014
  • Total Games: 100 +
  • Known For: High variance, high max win, progressive jackpots, innovative game mechanics
  • Popular Slots: Money Train, Temple Tumble, Dream Drop Jackpots, Hellcatraz
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