Big wave surfing: extreme is a soft word for that

Laird Hamilton, Eddie Aikau, Jeff Clark, Mark Foo, Ross Clarke-Jones, Mike Parsons, Grant Baker, Greg Long, João de Macedo, Shane Dorian, Ken Bradshaw and Maya Gabeira all share the same sentiment. They would go.

In big wave surfing, time and timing are two different things. There's a time to paddle hard and go for it; and then there's the stand-up timing.

Surfing in the most extreme spots and weather conditions can be uncomfortable for those without the relevant experience and knowledge. A little courage never hurt, either. The risk of leaving family and friends forever should not be taken without every possible consideration for safety being made. has carefully picked the ultimate extreme surf spot list. If you really aim to surf big and have what it takes, you simply have to try the diversity of these different wave peaks. Ride them all one by one. Some offer wind and swell adversity; others require slab experience. All are really, really big.

Banzai Pipeline is a surf classic. This Hawaiian reef break can turn into a deadly cavern very easily. In the last ten years Joshua Nakata, Joaquin Velilla, Malik Joyeux, Jon Mozo and Moto Watanabe have sadly lost their lives here.

Belharra is an outer reef break located off the town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, in France. This gigantic wave has a massive lip that could scare you off surfing forever. In Jaws, Maui, waves can easily reach 35 meters (120 ft). Sometimes, the only way to surf this wave is by pressing the tow-in button. If you fail, reef and rocks will eat you.

Mullaghmore Head and Prowlers are the biggest waves Ireland has to offer. With a rainy and windy climate painting a dark picture, these waves are absolutely fearful. Never ride them - or any other big wave - alone. Nazaré, in Portugal, is so powerful that some call it the "surfboard breaking machine". The undersea canyon here creates giant waves that can only be surfed by experienced big wave surfers.

Pico Alto, in Peru, is considered the largest wave in South America. This big wave surf spot challenges everything: your fear, your safety and your life. Needless to say it is one of the stages on the Big Wave World Tour. Punta de Lobos is the goofy footer's big wave heaven in Chile. Expect fast drops and giant lips.

Shipsterns Bluff, in Tasmania, is such a powerful wave that getting barreled may not be a wise option. It is one of the most dangerous waves in the world and there's not a hospital nearby. Teahupoo has already taken many lives. It's an exceptionally fast, shallow, tubular and heavy wave. This reef break delivered what is considered the "heaviest wave" ever ridden. Laird Hamilton was the one onboard.

The Wedge, in USA, is almost known as a shore break. If you go over the falls at this spot, an injury is certain. Local surfers have ended up paralyzed. Todos Santos, in Mexico, gets monstrous pretty often, too. This big wave surfer's heaven has plenty of adrenaline for sale. The 'Killers' wave there is ferocious.

Yakutat, in Alaska, is the ultimate cold surfing experience. Temperatures can drop to below minus 20ºC, which means waves just about freeze solid. Helmets are required.

Discover the 10 commandments of the big wave surfer.