There 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 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 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.