The best big wave surf spots in the world

Surfing
Big wave surf spots: these breaks are for experienced riders only

The best big wave surf spots in the world have a few things in common. They're only suited for experienced surfers, they only break once in a while, and they can kill a rider in seconds.

Let's put things in perspective. A 50-foot wave (15 meters) carries about 1.7 MW of power across each meter of wave front, in a 15-second period scenario.

If you've decided to surf the biggest wave of your life, there are few things you should know. Get the right surf gear, book a jet ski and get boat support. And pray. Then, decide if you're paddling into the wave or if being towed-in is the best option.

The biggest waves in the world are located in all continents. With the right swell and wind conditions, you'll be lucky if you ride four or five monstrous waves.

The best big wave spots are dangerous and in some cases, almost inaccessible without a boat or even helicopter. Carefully selecting which wave will open its face and the right moment for the take-off is compulsory. A mistake will probably cost you your life.

In the Pacific Ocean, big waves are often surfed in Banzai Pipeline, Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay, Peahi/Jaws, Ghost Tree, Mavericks, Cortes Bank and Nelscott Reef (USA), Puerto Escondido and Todos Santos (Mexico), Punta de Lobos and Arica (Chile), Pico Alto (Peru), Teahupoo (Tahiti), Tavarua (Fiji), Cloud 9 (Philippines). Size and perfection are guaranteed, especially in XXL swell days.

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.

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.

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.

In Jaws, Maui, waves can easily reach 35 meters (120 feet). Sometimes, the only way to surf this wave is by pressing the tow-in button. If you fail, reef and rocks will eat you.

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.

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.

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.

Punta de Lobos is the goofy footer's big wave heaven in Chile. Expect fast drops and giant lips.

The Atlantic Ocean, the saltiest major ocean, offers the power of its currents and winds. Fear the deadly force of Nazaré, Peniche, Madeira and Azores (Portugal), Belharra (France), The Cribbar (England), El Bocal (Spain) Mullaghmore Head and the Cliffs of Moher (Ireland), Dungeons (South Africa). Warn your family, grab a good wetsuit and pray everything goes well.

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.

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.

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 the Tasman Sea, the name of one wave speaks for the rest. At Shipsterns Bluff (Australia), the chances of getting out of there alive are lower than the chances of losing your life.

Shipstern 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.

In the Indian Ocean, meet a few famous big wave surf spot that has made the cover of the surf magazines, in XXL style. Padang Padang, in Bali (Indonesia) is the most incredible big wave spot of the Asian region. Are they big enough for you?

Discover the biggest waves ever surfed. Learn the 10 commandments of the big wave surfer.

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