There’s nothing like gazing at a wall of water and declaring, “Yeah, I can ride that,” for big-wave surfers. These ten surfing hotspots are undoubtedly the most insane—and dangerous—locations on the planet. Add a few of them to your bucket list if you’re an accomplished wave rider.
10. Mavericks, California
If you’re looking for big waves in the United States, head to the Mavericks, a surf destination off the coast of Half Moon Bay in California. Even while some breakers can reach 100 feet, experienced surfers battle 20-foot waves. Mark Foo and Sion Milosky, two well-known surfers, have died here.
9. Seal Island, South Africa
Seal Island, located just off the Dungeons in Cape Town, South Africa, is a convenient small dining room for great white sharks. The surf area produces big waves, but the risk is high: it’s a feeding ground for massive sharks, who feast on groups of seals as they dash between the island and the mainland. Waiting for a wave could be just as dangerous — if not more so — than actually catching one.
8. Dungeons at Hout Bay, South Africa
The Hout Bay Dungeons are dangerous in more ways than one. These massive, freezing waves wash over stones near Seal Island, which happens to be a preferred feeding ground for great white sharks. The bay is known for being one of the most shark-infested areas on the planet.
7. Cape Fear, Australia
Cape Fear, as its name suggests, is located around 20 miles south of Sydney, Australia. The Pacific breakers are notorious for their great power and fury, capable of catapulting surfers against the rocky shoreline. Cape Fear is a magnet for only the brave or the foolish, with waves breaking only a dozen metres from a barnacle-encrusted, razor-sharp cliff.
6. Waimea Bay, Hawaii
Waimea Bay, at the entrance of the Waimea River on the north shore of the Hawaiian Islands, is a renowned place in the genesis of big-wave surfing. The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational draws surfers from all around the world to watch the world’s best surfers compete on 60-foot rollers.
5. Teahupo’o Reef, Tahiti
The seductive sapphire seas of Tahiti’s Teahupo’o Reef are stunning but deadly—huge surges crash against a small coral reef, killing five people since 2000.
4. Peahi, Hawaii
Local surfers have dubbed this Maui beach “Jaws” because the waves are extremely unpredictable, much like a shark attack. Summers are peaceful, but when winter arrives, the world’s greatest surfers gather to Peahi to test their skills on the 50’–80′ waves.
3. Shipstern Bluff, Australia
Tasmania is a beautiful part of the world, and nowhere is it more beautiful than Shipstern Bluff. Shipstern, on the Tasman Peninsula’s south side, is known for its massive surges that pound into an unforgiving granite ledge. It’s a terrifyingly perilous surf area, with bone-chilling temperatures and plenty of sharks.
2. Praia do Norte, Portugal
Skyscraper-sized waves can be found at Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Portugal. Garrett McNamara recently broke the world record for the largest ever surfed swell after surfing a 78′ swell in Nazaré.
1. Banzai Pipeline
The Banzai Pipeline, off the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii, is a dangerous surf location for locals and adventure seekers alike. Massive surges crash onto a steep, shallow reef in the winter, resulting in some of the world’s deadliest waves. Since the 1980s, seven surfers have died while surfing the Pipeline.