Where to Find the Most Dangerous Waves

©istockphoto/shannonstentThere are some pret­ty gnarly waves in coun­tries all around the world, but only a few of them can tru­ly be defined as killers. Surfers up for a chal­lenge and not afraid of tak­ing risks to flock to them to test out their mor­tal­i­ty. From the U.S. to Africa, these are some of the most dead­ly waves on the plan­et.

Ours, Cape Fear, New South Wales
Ours is noto­ri­ous for its incred­i­bly shal­low shores and sharp bar­na­cles wait­ing just below the sur­face to tear you limb from limb. If you’re unlucky enough to nose­dive under the surf you’ll either wind up shred­ded or dead. If you some­how man­age to make it back up above the water you’ll be greet­ed by eight-foot waves with four-foot lips wait­ing to plow you into the wait­ing boul­ders. Basi­cal­ly, you don’t want to fall off if you val­ue your life.

Pipeline, Oahu
Pipeline has end­ed the lives of more surfers than most oth­er spots com­bined. The odd thing is, you don’t real­ly have much to wor­ry about with the big swells here, but more so when the swells are just start­ing to build. They tend to come on quick­ly and dou­ble over, cre­at­ing a rapid suc­ces­sion of waves that are hard to over­come. They’ll pull you under and keep you there if you don’t have the skill or smarts to stay afloat. Despite claim­ing the most lives of any pop­u­lar surf­ing spot, thou­sands of peo­ple still flock here each year.

Teahupo’o, Tahi­ti
Teahupo’o has earned a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the most sav­age waves in the world not because of its height, but due to the thick­ness. The wells come out of deep waters off the shore with­out a con­ti­nen­tal shelf to help cut them down, so the mon­strous wave here is often thick­er than it is tall. If you go down, expect to stay there awhile. The break usu­al­ly occurs just a few feet over­top the coast’s live coral reef. Only one per­son has been killed here, but if you allow your­self to be pulled back into the reef you’re like­ly a goner too. The name Teahupo’o loose­ly trans­lates to “chop the head” for a rea­son.

Mav­er­icks, Red Tri­an­gle, North­ern Cal­i­for­nia
The Red Tri­an­gle of north­ern Cal­i­for­nia is sup­pos­ed­ly named for the red waters that appear around the numer­ous great white sharks that fre­quent the area, so the sto­ry goes. While you don’t def­i­nite­ly want to tan­gle with those beasts, the real dan­ger at Mav­er­icks is the low tide. After the waves here man­aged to cut short the life of surfing’s biggest heroes, Mark Foo, it was dis­cov­ered that dur­ing low tide the waves here have the strength to hold surfers under so long they’re like­ly to drown before com­ing back up for air.

Dun­geons, Cape Town
Dun­geons got its name by hold­ing one local under the water for two con­sec­u­tive 25-foot waves that he felt like there was no escape from. The size of the surf here isn’t even the biggest prob­lem; it also holds such quirks as giant under­wa­ter boul­ders, freez­ing waters and hold-downs more aggres­sive than almost any oth­er spot in the world. The cher­ry on the top is the mas­sive swarms of sharks that patrol the area look­ing for a meal. These guys aren’t just con­tent to lie in wait, either; the great whites here like to breach the sur­face and have a snack in midair.