Where to Catch the Biggest Waves This Summer

surfing waveSeri­ous wave rid­ers are often look­ing for ways to push the lim­its, but some­times there are waves too big for even the best to han­dle. Leg­endary surf spots from Cal­i­for­nia to Aus­tralia con­tain waves that reach upward of 60 feet, though don’t expect to be able to ride them. These pow­er­ful bar­rel rolls will wipe even the great­est off their boards. Pad­dle out at your own risk.

Mav­er­icks, Cal­i­for­nia
At 30+ feet, Mav­er­icks isn’t the largest wave on the list, but it’s earned a rep­u­ta­tion for being one of the most dan­ger­ous. Break­ing a mile out from the shore, the right-han­der is thick and incred­i­bly fast and breaks smack in the mid­dle of some of the Pacific’s most tem­pes­tu­ous waters. Toss in the fact that the area is a haven for sharks and the cold tem­per­a­tures can eas­i­ly throw off your con­cen­tra­tion and you have your­self a recipe for dis­as­ter. Mav­er­icks, named after pooch who tried to surf the wave him­self, has already claimed the lives of two famous Hawai­ian surfers.

Ship­stern Bluff, Tas­ma­nia, Aus­tralia
For­mer­ly named (and per­haps more apt­ly) Devil’s Point, Ship­stern Bluff is a mon­strous behe­moth chal­lenged only by those who aren’t afraid to look Death straight in the eye. Even then, the chances of liv­ing to tell about it are prob­a­bly slim­mer than the like­li­hood of slid­ing face-first into the crag­gy rocks after a sud­den cross-chop.

Nes­tled in the south­east cor­ner of Tas­ma­nia, the bru­tal con­di­tions here are the result of the penin­su­la absorb­ing storm sys­tems of the “furi­ous 50s”, strong air cur­rents blow­ing in from the South Pole. The 30+ foot wave here is infa­mous for its “stair steps,” when the ocean draws water off the reef and the wave bends in the shape of the sea floor, which have been known to lob the best surfers from their boards. The sub-freez­ing waters cer­tain­ly don’t help mat­ters.

Agi­ti, Spain
Though rarely seen, Agi­ti is a force to be reck­oned with when the stars align and the con­di­tions are just right to cre­ate one of the biggest swells off the coast of Europe. Big-wave surfer Asi­er Muni­ain is thought to have dis­cov­ered Agi­ti in the Bay of Bis­cay after a decade of surf­ing the area. The bay is only 200 meters wide and the waves break into a swath of enor­mous boul­ders, mak­ing surf­ing here a risky propo­si­tion. Catch­ing a wave here will be tough, with the swells only turn­ing big enough to start break­ing a hand­ful of times each year. The rocky head­lands make the area prime for ship­wrecks, so ride at your own risk.

Peʻahi, Maui
Pe’ahi, or Jaws, was once pre­dom­i­nate­ly known as a pre­mier wind­surf­ing des­ti­na­tion before the likes of Laird Hamil­ton and Dave Kala­ma got ahold of it. Dur­ing the bur­geon­ing tow-in move­ment of the late 90s they dis­cov­ered the occa­sion­al­ly 60-foot wave here was ripe for surf­ing. The loom­ing cliffs over­head and sheer veloc­i­ty of the wave make it a tricky sit­u­a­tion for even the sea­soned vets, but many surfers actu­al­ly found tow­ing in to be too safe for such an epic break. Nowa­days you’ll find plen­ty of surfers pad­dling out the chal­lenge this beast.

Cortes Bank, Pacif­ic Ocean
One hun­dred miles off the coast of Cal­i­for­nia lies one of the most fero­cious and moun­tain­ous waves on Earth—Cortes Bank. It’s believed to hold the largest sur­fa­ble wave in the world, reg­u­lar­ly spew­ing out swells that cre­ate waves too gar­gan­tu­an to even attempt. When the wave does reach a rea­son­able height, say 70 feet, surfers must con­tend with some of the most pow­er­ful and shark-laden breaks around. Com­bine that with the ship­wrecks still lying just below the sur­face and you have your­self an under­wa­ter play­ground of sharp teeth, rusty re-bar, and sub-freez­ing tem­per­a­tures with no land mass, or safe­ty, in sight.