Where to Surf The Biggest Wave in the World? Best Spots on The Planet

Where to Surf The Biggest Wave in the World? Best Spots on The Planet

Several surf spots become an absolute mess when the ocean lights up and mean storms begin to form hundreds of miles off the coast.

The world’s biggest and most impressive waves appear to be coming alive in a few special places amidst such conditions. Surfing the biggest waves is not for the faint of heart and make surfing an extreme sport

Now, where can these big waves be found?

There are many big waves in the world, but adrenaline junkies and big wave enthusiasts prove themselves by discovering and overcoming some of the world’s most challenging.

Aside from Mavericks, Pipeline, Puerto Escondido, and Nazare, there are several monster breaks across the globe. Discover some of the world’s most famous big wave surfing spots, where you can find them, and how amazing they are.

Praia do Norte | Nazaré, Portugal

In the depths of a deep undersea canyon, Nazare has some of the biggest waves ever surfed. Under the surface of Nazare lies an incredible canyon of water.

Here shallow waters meet a deep canyon of water, creating an incredibly massive wall of water above the surface. This makes for breathtaking surfing scenes throughout the region.

Although it is not as consistently big as Pipeline or Teahupo’o, it still holds the record for the biggest wave surfed on earth. Officially, the largest wave ever surfed is an 80-footer conquered by Rodrigo Koxa of Brazil, though António Laureano claims to have surfed bigger waves.

There is nowhere better to find the world’s biggest surfable waves than Nazare, Portugal, specifically Praia do Norte.

It may seem strange, but there have never been any surfing-related deaths at Nazare, but it may be a result of the low number of surfers willing to encounter these monsters on the ocean floor.

Half Moon Bay, Mavericks | California, USA

Mavericks often come to mind when surfers think of shark-infested, icy-cold winter waves, with 30-foot waves breaking overhead. Located just 20 miles south of San Francisco is the world-renowned and undeniably dangerous “Mavs”.

Known as one of the most dangerous breaks ever surfed, Mavericks performs best on a winter swell. When it reaches 30 feet, this wave closes out, but it packs more punch than a bus speeding down a highway at full speed.

Mavericks is one of the most deadly surf spots there is. This spot has a reputation for being more than just the wave; it is a combination of many factors. Half Moon Bay’s conditions are generally very hostile, and the greatest big wave surfers on the planet are those who fear it the most.

It’s making Mavericks one of the best surf spot in the us.

Banzai Pipeline, North Shore | O’ahu, Hawaii

A dangerous surf break, Pipeline is one of the most famous breaks in the world. Except for competitions such as the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout and the Billabong Pipe Masters, it is constantly overcrowded when it is operating. It is widely regarded as being one of the most dangerous waves on earth. The raw, hollow waves of this body-shaking wave have claimed seven lives since the 1980s.

When you make even the slightest mistake, it’ll send you crashing into a sharp coral reef. This pipeline is indeed not an easy wave to ride. When conditions are right, the wave size will double, creating a beast that is difficult to contain.

When it’s swelled out, Pipeline produces waves up to 20ft+ breaking on a shallow tabletop reef just a few meters away from the beach, making it an ideal place to watch and photograph some of the best surfers in the world.

Waimea Bay, North Shore | O’ahu, Hawaii

Waimea Bay is considered a legendary surf spot on the North Shore of O’ahu. Oahu’s famous North Shore offers a different style of surfing entirely from its neighbor Pipeline. It is a tranquil beach paradise with warm water and flat oceans that is home to big waves surf legend Eddie Aikau. 

However, the conditions turn upside down when the winter swell rolls in. At Waimea, you can expect to see waves up to 20 feet tall in the winter months. With smaller waves, this location is often overcrowded. With the swell picking up, however, fewer and fewer surfers are daring enough to try. 

Eddie Aikau is honored every year at Waimea by doing what he did best: surfing big waves. The only spots that stay open on the North Shore during large swells are Waimea Bay and a few secret outer reefs.

Pe’ahi (Jaws) | Maui, Hawaii

Jaws is a wave that very few surfers have surfed and is without a doubt the most famous in the Pacific Ocean. The waves here are notoriously finicky. Within seconds of a small change in the wind or swell direction, it can become a washing machine of death. Thanks to the legend Laird Hamilton and his crew, the first surf session at Jaws took place in the early 1900s.

The mythical surf spot, Jaws is located on the North Shore of Maui. It will start working when the swell is around 15 feet but can cope with pretty much any size.

Jaws’s flawlessness, even in the face of its size, is what makes it so special in comparison to any other big wave out there. There are several opportunities to express surfing talent at Jaws, including an open face and sometimes a pretty deep barrel opportunity.

Teahupo’o | Tahiti, French Polynesia

There are certainly other big wave spots in the world, but Teahupo’o may have the thickest lip, and it may be the heaviest. Laird Hamilton surfed the first-ever heaviest wave in the area in 2000. It was then called the Millennium Wave.

There has only been one death at Teahupo’o, but it is still listed in Transworld Surf’s “Top 10 Deadliest Waves” and lives up to its translated name, “to sever the head” or “place of skulls.”

On a big swell, Teahupo’o is one of the most terrifying waves out there. Because of its deep channel, the wave has been captured in some of the most incredible videos. It is a sight to behold as boats and photographers line up for the most spectacular shots of the beast.

Shipstern Bluff, Cape Raoul | Tasmania, Australia

Shipstern Bluff, also called Devils Point or Shippies, is 30 kilometers off the coast and can only be reached through Tasman National Park via water transportation, or a two-hour hike.

Shipstern Bluff is a wild and dangerous break, both because of its massive waves breaking in steps within themselves (mutant steps) and because it attracts great white sharks so often. With a wave like this, surfers can reach speeds of up to 50 km/h.

It’s not the most famous big wave in the world, but Shipstern Bluff in Tasmania is quite frightening. Having such an odd shape, the wave typically doubles up mid-ride, creating an airdrop.

Additionally, footage from Shipstern is some of the most insane you can find in the surfing world, and wipeouts on this beach are typically very dramatic. Red Bull Cape Fear has been hosted a couple of times on this wave in the past as well. 

Cyclops, Esperance | Western Australia

Cyclops, despite being a relatively new wave in the world of surfing, has quickly become one of the most sought-after big wave spots. With its huge, breaking waves over shallow water on a reef, this wave is said to be impossible to surf. 

In a similar fashion to the Shippies’ steps, Cyclops folds in on itself making multiple drops as it travels. The Cyclops break is favored by bodyboarders because of its raw, untamed, and unpredictable nature. It is not to say that surfers who love big waves don’t try to rival it.

Playa Zicatela, Puerto Escondido | Oaxaca, Mexico

A well-known wave spot, Playa Zicatela sees consistently strong swells year-round. November is the time when the biggest swells surface. When the swell rolls in, the Mexican Pipeline is considered one of the world’s top ten waves and is not suitable for beginner surfers.

Puerto Escondido’s Playa Zicatela is usually just a hollow beach break. However, the spot can become the world’s heaviest beach break on a large swell. All big wave surfers are now keeping a keen eye on this epic A-frame wave while they wait for the next big Pacific swell. The swell coming this way will break a few boards and create a bunch of ridiculously large barrels.

Dungeons | Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town’s main big wave break, Dungeons, is also the focus of big wave surfing in South Africa. In the 1980s, Peter Button and Pierre De Villiers surfed Dungeons, which has been home to the Red Bull Big Wave Africa Cup since 1999. The competition, however, took place only four times during this period due to its inconsistency. At Tafelberg, the most remote part of the dungeons, Twiggy won the Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Award in 2009.

Mullaghmore Head | Sligo, North West Ireland

The waves at Mullaghmore Head are among the top ten biggest waves in the world, but only a few professionals take advantage of them. Cold winter water, strong currents, and craggy rocks make this a wave of legends. This popular destination for adrenaline-seeking big wave surfers is capable of holding the biggest waves in the Atlantic Ocean. Mullaghmore hosted the first-ever big-wave contest held by Billabong in 2011 and has since been nominated for the Billabong XXL Wave of the Year award several times.

The Right | Western Australia

On the western coast of Australia is the Right, which is probably the heaviest barrel out there. Although the wave is strictly a tow-in, you will have to worry about more than just wiping out here, as this will probably be your “sharkiest” wave on this list. It is also extremely fast, with the inside section breaking ahead of the one immediately before it. It would be nearly impossible to get out without getting pounded in the depths of the Indian Ocean.

The places have been mentioned, all there’s left is the will to surf. The list of big wave breaks is endless, from Jaws to Nazare to Teahupo’o, allowing big wave surfers to plunge deep into a monster tube. To increase your current surfing intensity, you might want to search around the world for some of the biggest waves.

About David Miller

Passionnate about extreme sports since a young age, I started my journey with brazilian Jiu Jitsu and skydiving. After 2000 jumps, I’m now a professionnel skydiver focus on wingsuit flying. I’m writing about all kind of extreme sports, trying to find the best spots in the world to do it.

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