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 share one statement. They would go.

In big wave surfing, time and timing are two different things. There's a time to go for it, to paddle hard and the stand-up timing. The rest is courage, experience and knowledge.

That's why surfing in the most extreme spots and weather conditions is so uncomfortable. It requires preparation - physical and logistics - and the risk of leaving family and friends forever.

SurferToday.com has carefully picked the ultimate extreme surf spot list. If you really aim to surf big, you have to try the diversity of these wave peaks and ride them all, one by one. Some offer wind and swell adversity, others require slab experience and the rest can get really big.

Banzai Pipeline is a surf classic. The 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 lost their lives in the spot.

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

Mullaghmore Head and Prowlers are the biggest wave Ireland has to offer. With a rainy and windy scenario, these waves are absolutely fearful. Watch out and never ride them alone. Nazaré, in Portugal, is so powerful that may hold the "surfboard breaking machine" nickname. The undersea canyon 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 few stages of the Big Wave World Tour. Punta de Lobos is the goofy footer's big wave heaven in Chile. Expect fast drops and giant lips. Escape, if possible, with no injuries.

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 an hospital nearby. Teahupoo has already taken many lives. Fast, shallow, tubular and heavy wave. This reef break delivered what is considered the "heaviest wave" ever ridden. Laird Hamilton did it.

The Wedge, in USA, is almost known as a shore break. If you go over the falls, an injury will certainly visit your body. Local surfers have already ended up as quadriplegics, here. Todos Santos, in Mexico, gets monstrous quite often. This big wave surfer's heaven has plenty of adrenaline for sale. The 'Killers' wave is ferocious.

Yakutat, in Alaska, is the ultimate cold surfing experience. Temperatures can get below minus 20ºC, which means waves almost get frozen. Helmets required. Click in each surf spot to watch a video of the insane wave.