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Heaviest Waves in the World



How’s your sense of balance? In some parts of the world, the sea’s roiling forces kick up waves so violent that they make normally imposing ones look like ripples. Just getting into the water with these borderline Tsunamis is an achievement, let alone riding them.

Ghost Tree, California

Ghost Tree unfurls near Monterey Bay, California, just off the 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Ghost Tree generates a ton of buzz in the surfing community because it is one of California’s most forceful waves, amid mountainous competition. With great white sharks thrown in, Ghost Tree is exceptionally formidable. Even if you virtually live amid boiling froth, to stay on top of this green phantom you will need to give it all you have got, and then some.

Banzai Pipeline

If a title existed for the world heavyweight champion of waves, Banzai Pipeline might well nail it. Banzai Pipeline was once judged un-surfable. Faint-hearts might say that the liquid pit bull remains so. Banzai bares its teeth off the North Shore of Hawaii’s third largest island, Oahu. Banzai presents you with turbocharged force that makes tackling it smoothly nigh-impossible. The wonder wave keeps you on the brink permanently. Stay aboard for a split-second and you are a bit of a hero.


Teahupo’o unleashes its violence off the southwest tip of Tahiti – the jewel of the French Polynesian archipelago. Teahupoo may well be the world’s heaviest wave. Just in case you underestimate it, consider that its name means something to do with decapitation. Just to add to the fun, Teahupoo crashes over an abrasive coral reef. Immense warrior spirit required.

Maverick’s, Northern California

Dubbed “the voodoo wave”, Maverick’s was once surfed by just one ambidextrous “goofyfoot” athlete, Jeff Clark. Clark first paddled out to face Maverick’s at the age of 17, leaving in his slipstream his high school friend who declined the adventure, telling Clark he would “call the Coast Guard and tell them where I last saw you.” Unabashed, Clark caught several left-breaking waves, becoming the first documented adventurer to tackle Maverick’s head-on. He surfed it alone for 15 years before the wider big-wave community cottoned on. An invitation-only contest is held at Maverick’s every winter if the waves are epic enough to satisfy the most ambitious surfers.

Aileens, Ireland

Aileens or, in Gaelic, Aill Na Searrach (“Leap of the Foals”), operates under the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, South-Western Ireland. A supreme product of the Atlantic Ocean’s icy might, Aileens is ferocious year round but especially in winter, thanks to the murky influence of cavernous lows thousands of kilometers away. The Celtic tiger with the feminine name rears up 30ft or more. If you want to ride Aileens, don’t even think about jumping from the cliffs. Take a boat from 2 miles away because, although Aileens is the least known wave under scrutiny, she comes at you with claws out Nerves of steel and Velcro balance obligatory.

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