Nazaré Canyon: the underwater abyss

The Nazaré Canyon is responsible for delivering the biggest surfable waves of all time. We took a dive into the abyss.


It was explored for the first time, in the early 20th century, by the Portuguese oceanographers of Missao Hidrografica. We're talking about an undersea canyon, located off the coast of Nazaré, in Portugal.

With a maximum depth of at least 5,000 meters (16,000 ft), the Nazaré Canyon is about 230 kilometers (140 miles) long.

The natural gorge ends near Praia do Norte, with depths reaching 150 meters. Can you imagine an underwater Grand Canyon? If water would drain off the Atlantic Ocean, you'd be walking through the pass, with huge rocks in both sides.

The mechanics of the Nazaré Canyon wave tells us why surfers may get the largest swells of all time, in this spot. When swell energy heads to shore, it is quickly channeled and amplified through the submarine ravine.