10 Biggest Waves in the World

10 Biggest Waves in the World

Mavericks, Nazare, Pipeline, and Puerto Escondido are some of the popular names of places for big-wave surfers. This is because of how huge the waves can get in these places, which can give them the adrenaline rush, as well as the unforgettable experience, that no other surf spots in the world can.

10 Biggest Waves in the World

Big-wave surfers are always on the lookout for the biggest waves they can surf. This is because the bigger the wave the more glory they can gain. Of course, the taller the wave is, the more thrill they’ll feel too.

However, with so many big-wave surf spots in the world, the list can get a bit overwhelming. Hawaii alone has countless surf spots to offer. So, to help you find the biggest wave that you can catch, take a look at these ten biggest waves around the world.

Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido is one of the biggest waves that’s popular among big-wave surfers. Located in Mexico, the waves that you catch here can get as high as 40 feet, which is bigger than a standard telephone pole.

If you plan to test your skills at Puerto Escondido, it’s best to plan your visit between April and September. These months are when the waves of Puerto Escondido are at their highest and most consistent. However, it is also when the swells at Puerto Escondido get scary.

Aside from how big the waves can get, this place is also known to be one of the most dangerous waves in the world. This is because the waves here are heavy, which can easily drown surfers and other water sports participants.

Here, Ron Cassidy lost his life in 2007. And in 2011, Puerto Escondido took the life of Noel Robinson.

This year was also a sad year for the surfing industry as it lost another great surfer to Puerto Escondido. In July of this year, surfer Oscar Serra passed away after falling from a heavy wave.

The waves at Puerto Escondido also get quiet, though. And if you plan to see them on their calmest days, plan your visit during November.


The Pipeline is one of the most exciting waves that you can catch in Hawaii. Apart from it being one of the biggest in the world, reaching 20 feet in height, the place is also known for its fast barreling wave breaks.

This kind of wave is what many big wave surfers are after. This is because it will surely give you the thrill you’re craving for.

Of course, being able to successfully surf this place will give you huge recognition in the big-wave surfing industry. However, the glory that comes with surfing the Pipeline could cause your life. 

Unfortunately, because of how big its waves can get, they can easily hold you underwater. Not to mention, the waves come rolling through fast, which could make it impossible for you to reach the surface.

Additionally, Pipeline is hiding reefs in its shallow water. And these reefs could injure you after a wave slams into you. And such incidents have already happened — in fact several times over the decades.

Since the 1980s, Pipeline has claimed seven lives; this includes Andy Chuda (1989), Travis Mussleman (2000), Moto Watanabe (2004), Malik Joyeux (2005), Jon Mozo (2005), Joshua Nakata (2008), and Joaquin Velilla (2007).

Cortes Bank

California is known for its beaches that make some of the best summer vacation spots in the world. Aside from relaxation, California also offers some adrenaline-filled visits and Cortes Bank is one of the places that the state has to offer for those who are looking to surf gigantic waves.

Located 100 miles off California’s coastline, this place can offer you waves that can get as high as 70 feet. This is due to the magic that lies beneath its surface.

Apparently, this is where the deep waters of the Pacific meet a canyon, which causes the two swells to stack against each other. As a result, monstrous waves.

However, unlike the other surf spots on this list, Cortes Bank is probably the most challenging wave to reach. Since it’s located a hundred miles from the state’s coastline, you will need either a boat or a jet ski that can take you there.

True enough, it can be quite a hassle to get there only to catch its gigantic waves. But, the trip is going to be worth all the effort.



Speaking of California, who wouldn’t forget about the Mavericks? California has quite a few gems when it comes to surfing. But, if you’re really into surfing big waves, the Mavericks is the one that you shouldn’t miss.

Here, it is reported that the waves can get as high as 100 feet. It’s bigger than the distance between the baseball diamond bases, which is 90 feet.

If you want to see how marvelous its waves are, October through March is the best season that you should target. This is when the waves get as tall as eight feet or more with 15 seconds intervals.

Make sure to be extra careful, though. Apparently, this place is also one of the most dangerous big-wave surfing spots in the world.

When you surf at the Mavericks, it’s either getting wiped out or getting rolled over by waves that might cause you injuries, traumas, and even your life. This is because of the rip currents and the marine life.

If you get wiped out, the huge strong waves might hold you down for a longer period. However, the place is also infested with sharks. Not to mention, this is a paddle-only surf spot. Hence, takeoffs can get crucial.


Like California, Hawaii also offers numerous summer vacation spots for people who are hoping to refresh their minds and bodies via a relaxing visit to the beach.

But, this place is also for those who are looking for a place to experience a different kind of adrenaline rush, all thanks to its waves that can reach up to 85 feet.

And like Pipeline, Waimea is also one of Hawaii’s scariest big-wave surfing spots. Unfortunately, this place has already claimed several lives over the past decades too.

Dickie Cross is one of the notable big-wave surfers who disappeared in the waters of Waimea in 1943. Since then, the place continued to kill surfers; hence, the “Waimea Taboo.”

If you think you’re brave and strong enough to conquer Waimea’s monstrous waves, winter is the best season when you should plan your visit. This is when the waves are at their biggest.

If you’re planning to visit Waimea to relax, though, the summer season is when you should start flying to Hawaii. From May to October, the waves at this beach get smaller and calmer, which is ideal for a family vacation.

Shipstern’s Bluff

Tasmania is known for having the cleanest air in the world. But, it’s not only the reason why you should see this place.

If you want to see or even surf some of the biggest waves that Tasmania can offer, the Shipstern’s Bluff has swells that can get as big as 30 feet. But, don’t be fooled by the glory and thrill that it can offer.

Aside from its towering swells that can make any surfer’s heart pound, Shipstern’s Bluff serves as a home to many sea creatures. One of them, though, is great white sharks.

So, apart from worrying about the strong waves, the thought of getting wiped out with great white sharks awaiting you in the water can really make you uneasy.

The good news, though, is that no one has ever died at Shipstern’s Bluff. However, there are numerous incidents that have put several big-wave surfers into a near-death experience.

Big-wave surfer Ross Clarke-Jones is one of the surfers who tried catching a wave at Shipstern’s Bluff but nearly droned.

While he suffered from fin cuts, broken ribs, spinal and neck injuries, knee injuries, as well as a broken shoulder, Clarke-Jones was lucky enough to survive the monstrous waves of Shipstern’s Bluff.


Teahupo’o also has some big waves to boast of. Located in Tahiti, this place’s swells can get as huge as 23 feet tall.

But, the waves aren’t the only things you should be worried about. Apparently, Teahupo’o also hides a sharp coral reef beneath its waters. Thus, there’s no room for mistakes when surfing Teahupo’o.

And due to its strong waves and sharp reef, many surfers have also had their near-death experiences to tell at Teahupo’o. Hence, it’s really a place that’s only for the skilled and brave-hearted.

If you think your skills and courage are enough to conquer the daunting waves of Teahupo’o, the best time of the year to visit is in the month of April. This is when the waves here are more rideable as they are consistent and clean during this time.


If we’re talking about the biggest wave on the planet, you need to go see Nazare’s waves. Here, you’ll never believe your eyes with the swells that it produces. It turns out, the waves here can get as tall as 100 feet.

But, there are no magic tricks involved here. Actually, Nazare’s waves are caused by what lies beneath the surface — a canyon.

Now, you might argue that the Cortes Bank also has a canyon underwater, so, there’s something even more about Nazare’s hidden canyon, which makes its waves bigger. It turns out, you’re right.

Unlike the canyon under Cortes Bank’s surface, Nazare’s is considered one of the largest in the world. It has depths of approximately 16,000 feet and a length of around 230 kilometers.

This plus other natural elements, such as the huge Atlantic Ocean swells, the wind, tides, sea currents, and the seafloor, you’ll get two big swells that stack up against each other. As a result, the biggest waves in the world.

If you plan to experience or see Nazare’s gigantic waves, note that winter is when the swells get the biggest. Visiting this place during winter also lets you witness other big-wave surfers trying to break records.



Just by looking at its name, the Dungeons can already make you feel uneasy. But, wait until you see its waves in person.

Located in South Africa, this place will make your jaw drop with its swells that can get as huge as 40 feet. But, that’s not the only thing that makes this big-wave surfing spot exciting and scary at the same time.

Actually, the Dungeons is also home to many sea creatures. Unfortunately, this is where you can find the most sharks on the planet. Hence, getting wiped out is something that you should avoid as much as you can.

And because of this, it is billed as one of the most dangerous big-wave surfing spots in the world. It’s also deadly as from the year 2000 to 2017, five deaths are already recorded in the area.

Despite that, it remains one of the most favorite spots for big-wave surfers. In fact, it is the most popular among the numerous surf spots in the country.

If you want to see its beauty, plan a visit between March and September. This is when the waves are at their biggest.

Seal Island

Also located in South Africa, the Seal Island is merely a small mass of land. But, it can talk big of its waves. This is because, like the swells you can catch at the Dungeons, Seal Island can also offer waves that can get as large as 40 feet and above.

This island is located near the Dungeons. And since the latter often gets crowded as it’s the most famous big-wave surfing spot in the country, you can just go to Seal Island to enjoy South Africa’s towering waves without having to worry about the crowd.

Be warned, though, because, like the majority of the surf spots on this list, Seal Island is also infested by sharks. 

The world has a lot of big-wave surfing spots to offer. But these places are the ones that will guarantee you the kind of waves that will keep your heart pounding. Just be careful, though, as these are also some of the dangerous waves in the world.

About Carla

I'm a journalist passionate about extreme sports. I love writing and reading stories about those brave people that are going beyond the limit of their physical capabilities.

Leave a Comment