Maya Gabeira: the Super Woman of Surfing | Photo: Maragni/Red Bull

She could've been a ballet, but she ended up chasing the world's largest ocean waves. Here are some curious facts about Brazilian big wave surfer Maya Gabeira.

Maya Reis Gabeira was born in Rio de Janeiro, on April 10, 1987. Unlike many kids of her generation, she was introduced to surfing when she was already a full-grown teenager.

Gabeira has already been called the "Super Woman of Surfing." But she still gets anxious and stressed a few days before a storm kicks in.

Maya was one of the first women to pursue a professional career in heavy waters and, today, she is one of the highest paid female big wave surfers on the planet.

The good-looking surfer-model is one hell of a woman. And she defies death as a way of living. Why? Because it is the only thing that really makes her happy.

Gabeira was the first woman to surf California's Ghost Tree and Tahiti's Teahupoo. In Nazaré, she nearly drowned.

Maya's infectious smile and style inspire millions of young female surfers worldwide. But what do you know about this lone wolf of big wave surfing?


1. Fernando Gabeira, Maya's father, is the founding member of Brazil's Green Party, and a former member of the Revolutionary Movement 8th October (MR-8), the group who kidnapped the US ambassador in Brazil;

2. Yamê Reis, Maya's mother, is a fashion designer;

Mother and daughter: Maya's mum is a fashion designer | Photo: Maya Gabeira Archive

3. Maya has an older sister, Tami Gabeira, who is a psychologist and teacher;

4. Gabeira studied in the Deutsche Schule Rio de Janeiro, a German international school in Botafogo, until she was 11;

5. Before discovering wave riding, Maya Gabeira loved dancing, jazz music, and tap dance;

6. Maya started surfing in 2003, at Arpoador Beach, in Rio de Janeiro. She was 14;

7. When she hit 15, the Brazilian traveled to Australia on an exchange program;

8. Maya Gabeira moved to Hawaii when she was only 17 years old, in October 2004;

Teahupoo: Maya Gabeira returned to the infamous Tahitian break in 2013 | Photo: Bielmann/Red Bull

9. She worked as a waitress to earn a living in two Hawaiian restaurants;

10. Gabeira admitted trying cannabis when she was young, but never quite enjoyed alcoholic drinks;

11. Maya Gabeira suffers from asthma;

12. Gabeira surfed her first big wave on February 6, 2006, at Waimea Bay. She rode a 35-foot wave;

13. She is a multiple-time winner of the Big Wave Awards (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012);

14. In 2008, the Brazilian athlete embarked on an expedition with Raimana Van Bastolear, Jamie Sterling, and Carlos Burle and became the first woman to surf the Alaska;

15. In 2009, Gabeira won the Best Female Action Sports Athlete ESPY Award;


16. In 2011, Maya suffered an horrendous wipeout and took five waves on the head at the shallowest point in Teahupoo's reef - she was rescued unconscious;

17. Maya Gabeira is 5'5'' and weighs around 123 pounds;

18. In 2012, Maya took her clothes off for the ESPN's Body Issue;

19. She was one of the first women to challenge the XXL waves of Praia do Norte, in Nazaré, Portugal;

20. In 2013, Gabeira wiped out in Nazaré and was once again rescued unconscious by Carlos Burle. She had to be revived on the beach;


21. She likes to eat vegetables in the morning. The surfer from Rio loves boiling cassava, and then adding a pinch of salt and olive oil;

22. Maya Gabeira complements her physical exercises with yoga and pilates;

23. Gabeira's only known boyfriend is Australian actor-musician, Jesse Spencer;

24. One of her favorite sweets is "brigadeiro," a traditional Brazilian dessert made with condensed milk, butter, and chocolate;

25. Maya Gabeira lives between Nazaré, Los Angeles, and Rio de Janeiro;

The Nazaré Lighthouse: Maya Gabeira calls it her home | Photo: Silva/Red Bull

26. She is an avid supporter of the Brazilian football team;

27. The big wave surfer has already has already undergone multiple surgeries, including back and nose operations;

28. Maya listens to all types of music before surfing and training. Her playlist includes Beyonce, Drake, Haim, Lady Gaga, Lorde, The Weeknd, and U2;

29. She rarely goes to bed past 10pm, usually sleeps at least nine hours per day, and wakes up at 6am;

30. Maya Gabeira has a Slovenian dog called Naza, a tribute to the Portuguese fishing town of Nazaré;

Maya Gabeira: one of the first female surfers to tame Nazaré | Photo: Silva/Red Bull

31. Gabeira has worked with countless brands and companies including Red Bull, TAG Heuer, Mitsubishi, Gucci, Samsung, Lululemon, Renault, Mormaii, Fa, Evoke, Tokoro, Nextel, Billabong, etc;

32. Maya Gabeira supports Oceana, a non-governmental organization dedicated to protecting the world's oceans;

33. In January 2018, Maya rode the biggest wave ever by a woman. The Brazilian surfer caught an 82-foot beast at Nazaré, but she is still waiting for the Guinness World Records to create a separate surfing category for female riders;

34. In Nazaré, Gabeira has between 30 and 40 surfboards to choose from;

55. In 2015, the documentary "Maya Gabeira: Return to Nazaré" revealed her emotional comeback to a place that nearly killed her;