You're about to discover the 10 biggest waves in the world in this expertly compiled list, but that's not all.

There's a wave out there that dwarfs every wave on this list, something so big that it'll blow your mind. 

It's not very well known, but you'll find out about it in just a minute...

Keep reading, and enjoy.

10 OF THE BIGGEST WAVES IN THE WORLD

Now there are a few people out there that would give you a completely different list to the one I'm about to share with you, but trust me when I say not all big waves are created equal. 

Yes, this is a list of the biggest waves in the world, but that accounts for more than just height, but how heavy and gnarly they are too. 

This is the list big wave surfers would tell you, not some keyboard warrior chump sitting on their couch at home. 


1. NAZARE, PORTUGAL

Nazare is home to the worlds biggest waves, clocking in a record breaking 86ft!

What's strange though is that this wave wasn't even on the big wave surfing map up until 2010.

But since this eye watering, freak of nature of a wave burst onto the scenes with Garret McNamara towing into gigantic waves unlike anything seen before, the surfing world has been transfixed. 

Each year the worlds best big wave surfers descend on the shores of Nazare in the hope of breaking records, and catching that elusive 100ft wave. 

If it's going to happen anywhere in the world, it's going to happen here, it's just a matter of time. 


2. PEAHI (JAWS), MAUI

Peahi (aka Jaws) is not just known as one of the biggest waves in the world, but also the most perfect too. 

Let me explain. 

You see, the majority of big wave spots in the world tend to not be great waves to actually surf. 

Sure, they're big, massive in-fact, but they're often just a big peaking wave breaking into deep water, and this makes the waves kinda fat, and pretty much all you can do is take off and go straight.

Peahi though is different. 

Not only does it produce some of the worlds biggest waves, they're high performance and perfect too. 

The wave itself offers up huge, slabbing, double up take-offs into monstrous tubes. 

Sure Nazare offers up the tallest/biggest waves out there, but Peahi is where the gnarliest of big wave surfing goes down.


3. CORTES BANK, CALIFORNIA

A hundred or so kilometers off the coast of California lies a reefbreak. surrounded by nothing other than open water. 

This reef, mapped out in the early 1800's is a freak of nature unlike anything else on earth. 

Surfing here is not easy, and not regularly attempted either.

Everything must line up perfectly to make this wave come to life - swell direction, swell period, swell hight & wind direction all need to line up perfectly for Cortes Bank to roar. 

But when it does, this place is like no other. 

Huge open-ocean waves, detonating on reef miles out to see, with three separate peaks to choose from. 

This spot is rarely surfed, and even more rarely scored, but when it does the whole world knows about it. 


4. MAVERICKS, CALIFORNIA

Mavericks could have easily slotted into the number three spot on this list, as after Peahi, this is where the next best big wave surfing goes down. 

One of the most treacherous big wave spots on the planet, Mavericks famously took the life of big wave legend Mark Foo back in 1994

It's a powerful, heavy, slabbing big wave that demands respect. 

The reef underneath is known for its underwater caves which surfers report of getting stuck in during wipeouts, alongside the murky brown water make this an intimidating spot at the best of times. 

Couple that with the very real presence of great whites sharks in the surf, and you can see why this place is no joke. 

Famously pioneered by Jeff Clarke who'd surf solo out here for 15 years before the rest of the surfing world took note, Mavericks truly is one of the best big wave destinations on earth.  


5. PUERTO ESCONDIDO, MEXICO

Just like Mavericks above, Puerto Escondido could well be right at the top of this list too, as it offers up some of the most coveted big waves there are.

Unusually though, unlike the majority of other big wave spots on this list, Puerto Escondido breaks on sand. 

Now this can be both a good thing, and a bad thing. 

Good obviously as sand is softer than rock, bad because it's nowhere near as predictable. 

Typically, waves will come out of deep water and ledge up on the shallow sandbank creating huge A-frame, sand bottom tubes, both left and right. 

Incredibly, surfers are able to position themselves in the perfect spot to paddle into these crazy waves, a true sight to behold. 

Furthermore, it's probably the most consistent big wave surf spot on the planet too. 


6. WAIMEA, HAWAII

Back in the day, Wiamea was the mecca of big wave surfing, known the world over as THE spot to test yourself and prove your worth in the big wave surfing world. 

Overshadowed recently by the discovery of new big wave spots previously un-surfed, that by no means discounts its relevance in big wave surfing today. 

In fact each year, the creme de la creme of big wave surfing royalty congregate on the shores of Waimea Bay as invitees into the legendary Eddie Aikau Big Wave Surfing Event. 

The wave itself is ledging right hand take-off fading out into deep water, followed by a brutal shore break. 


7. TEAHUPOO, TAHITI

In oh so many ways Teahupoo could have sat perched at number one in this list.

For what it lacks in height, it more than makes up for in thickness and power. 

The wave itself breaks onto shallow reef, producing arguably the worlds heaviest tubes. 

As huge groudswells travel frictionless though incredibly deep water, they're suddenly met in an instance with this shallow reef.

This jacks up the swell, folding it in on itself, creating waves with virtually no back - 20ft from the front, 2ft from the back - conjuring up thick barrels that are often wider than they are tall. 


8. CLOUDBREAK, FIJI

Cloudbreak is not necessarily known as a big wave spot, as it's one of those rare waves that'll break perfectly when it's smaller too. 

But when things align, like the did back in 2018, it makes for quite possibly the best big wave in the world.

What separates Cloudbreak from the other waves on this list is how long, and how perfect it can get. 

Whereas many of the other spots will be short, sharp, violent rides, Cloudbreak will keep on giving with rides upwards of 400m long. 

It doesn't align often, but when it does you can expect famous surfers from around the world to find their way there to score this magical wave. 


9. MULLAGHMORE HEAD, IRELAND

If you're into big, cold, sketchy, scary waves, then Mullaghmore may well be for you. 

Relatively unknown prior to getting mainstream media from big wave charger Tom Lowe, this spot is now being tackled by more and more crazy folk looking to throw themselves into huge waves. 

The wave is on Irelands West Coast, which means it gets battered by crazy winds, huge swells, and enormous tides.

This makes scoring the wave a rare commodity. 

But when all things align this place will go bonkers, creating slabbing, mutant left hand barrels, and some of the heaviest waves around.


10. BELHARRA, FRANCE

I was a little bit reluctant to put this wave on this big wave list for a number of reasons.

Let me explain.

You see, judging a big wave merely by height alone can be a little diseiveing. 

Put it this way, a 200ft wave that barely breaks is childsplay compared to a 40ft wave that's breaking from top to bottom.

Belharra is one of those waves. 

Huge, mountainous lumps of swell that break in deep water.

Big waves yes, but not quite the same if you catch my drift.


THE BIGGEST WAVE EVER RECORDED

Alright, I told you in the intro I'd tell you about a wave that'd dwarf everything on this list, and here it is, Lituya Bay, Alaska.

Guilty I get it, it's not a typical wave that's generated by wind, but I think it deserves an honourable mention in this post. 

Lituya Bay is a protected inlet that ships in the North Sea use to protect themselves from storms. The inlet itself is a shaped a little like a funnel, with a small opening on one end, and a glacier at the other. 

During the night of July 9, 1958, something crazy happened (and not for the first time either) whereby a huge chunk of glacier fell, creating its own Tsunami. 

This wave - as it funnelled into the inlet - jacked up to extreme heights, at its peak reaching 915m tall!

Yup you read that right.

How did anyone live to tell this tale?

They didn't have to, as one look at the geography of this zone will tell everything you need to know. 

With rich pine forests scaling the mountains coming to an abrupt stop, whereby all soil, all vegetation is completely stripped from the mountainside. 

A true freak of nature of a wave, that's scary even just to think about. 


WHAT'S THE BIGGEST WAVE EVER SURFED?

The biggest wave ever surfed was ridden by Sebastian Steudtner at the iconic big wave spot Nazare, on the West Coast of Portugal in October 2020. 

The wave height was measured at 86ft


CONCLUSION

The way big waves are judged is very subjective, and you'll get a different list depending on who you speak to. 

But I reckon I've done a good job here in giving you a list of the worlds biggest waves - that big wave surfers themselves would tip their hats to. 

Yew!
Rowan 🤙

ROWAN CLIFFORD

Rowan is the technical nerd behind the scenes. A lover of everything entrepreneurial, and living a minimal, simple life.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

ONLINE COURSES

World class tuition, taught by world class teachers.

LAST MINUTE DEALS

Last minute deals on surf charters, camps & retreats.

SIGN UP

Sign up for last minute deals & new content weekly:

>