Posts Tagged ‘big waves’


I’ve found some more extreme waves…

February 3, 2009

I thought I had fairly comprehensively covered this catagory, but on a subject like this one, I don’t think you ever can. So here are a few more seriously gnarly waves to keep you entertained…

Desert Point, Lombok, Indonesia

Desert Point is a beautiful lefthand pointbreak breaking over coral. On a good day, it is one of the longest waves in the world, some say maybe even the best left in the world. This wave is for experts. However, the wave is not guaranteed and there can be long periods of flat spells – and there is very little to do there besides surf! But when it’s good – it’s very very good – long, hollow barreling, warm and consistent.

Drawbacks? the crowds are getting worse every year, you have to guard yourself against maleria, and it is adviseable to take a first aid kit with you as the closest medical access is hours away.

DP Perfection Hiding CF, Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia

The Cave, Ericeira, Portugal

One of Europe’s premiere surfing destinations, Ericeira has a high density of quality surf-spots. Actually, the whole Portuguese coastline is peppered with undiscovered surfing spots, and one of the best things about surfing in this country is that it is easy to escape the crowds and find your own fabulous wave. The Cave stands out as a fine wave with all the ingredients that a dangerous wave should have, including a shallow reef.  It has  been described as Europe’s heaviest wave and is becoming popular with the international surfing aficianados. Thanks to ZonaRad1cal for this video.

Lunada Bay, California, USA

Lunada is a wave for experienced surfers and martial arts experts! Does that sound a bit wierd? Well, apparently the natives aren’t very friendly and the police force less than interested – you have been warned! However, back to the wave… this is a world class wave and perhaps one of the best right handers in California. It is not a particularly dangerous wave but it is a great performance wave at 6ft up to 20ft swells with the length on a normal day being 50 – 150m, but on a good day 150 – 300m. It is on a rocky reef with boulders underneath.

The main drawback to this wave is that it can be very crowded. And then of course we get back to the … locals. There have been reports of slashed tyres, rocks thrown and fist fights. Sounds like a full day out!

Thanks to tfisher29 for this brief video.

El Gringo, Arica, Chili

“You first have to understand the set-up of El Gringo. It is a full slab set-up, a right and left ledger slamming down on a jagged rock reef. Entry and exit is via a narrow, dog-leg keyhole, with surging tides and sets that, on occasion, actually unload into the slot. There’s spiny sea-urchins on the jagged rocks. Razor sharp mussels. And a territorial pack of seals. So when you’re caught on the inside, you’re left crab-walking the jagged guts and praying the sets stop pouring in. Which, in Chile, they don’t. And if you haven’t got a board to assist your outward scramble, you’re pretty much bummed. according to Surfing Magazine.

This is a very dangerous wave as you only have 2ft of water beneath you. It is a left and right reef break which breaks over rock. There is a very big tube/pipeline  to the left – at least a 30ft ride, and a longer ride to the right – about 120ft. During the 2007’s WCT event on Gringos, pro surfers suffered broken boards, battered heads and embedded urchin spines – and these guys know what they are doing, so beware – definitely a wave for expert surfers only. GreenSurfTour posted this video. Needless to say, crowding is not a problem here!

Tarqua Bay, Lagos, Nigeria

Tarqua Bay is considered to be a regional classic and suitable for all surfers. There are virtually no surfers during the week, and the crowds at the weekend are thin. This wave is a right handed break onto a sandy bottom at the entrance to the Lagoon of Iddo in Lagos and is often a fun, wedging peak with a length of 50m. The waves are at the western end of the beach. It’s best to surf this wave between July to October, but any time a solid swell hits, it barrels.

The drawback to this wave is the pollution. 60 million litres of raw sewage and tonnes of industrial waste produced by the 8 million inhabitants of Lagos every year, flows out into the ocean. Other hazards include floating carcasses, rubbish and the occasional mugging on the beach!  Not recommended for travellers but if you happen to be stuck in this part of the world, going surfing is about the only relaxing thing you will find to do. Oh dear…

I cannot find a photograph or a video for this wave… but I would suggest that the only reason it is considered a ‘dangerous’ wave is not because of its force (as it hasn’t much) but because of what might happen to you if you spend too much time in the water!

The Wedge, Newport Beach, California, USA

And I’ll draw this article to a close with a monster.

Surf spot travel photo of The Wedge

This is a wave for advanced surfers only and is considered deadly at all tides. “The Wedge is not a wave — it’s a 20-foot-plus meat grinder dreamed up by the devil himself. It heaves, bends and pulverizes in ways that good little waves aren’t supposed to act.” says

When supplied with a south swell of the proper size and direction, it can produce huge waves as spectacular and intimidating as any in Hawaii, Tahiti or Australia. It is a combination of two waves that merge together, creating a powerful wave which  refracts the swell energy off the jetty and creates a sideways wave that slings across the beach and collides with the next wave in the set. The result is what locals fittingly call a “humping effect,” where the set waves jack, expand and release in unimaginable ways. This wave is the best known bodysurfing wave in the world, but stand-up surfers are less welcome, in fact, throughout the summer, no boards of any kind are allowed in the water except in the early morning and late evening. Thanks to ctowersey1 for this video.


More on 2009 Snowboarding and Skiing Hot Spots

December 27, 2008

From blue waves (yesterday’s blog) to blue snow…

That’s quite some snowboarding isn’t it? Thanks to Zanman819 for publishing it.

We were down on the famous St. Tropez beach yesterday, Pampelonne for those of you who know it, and had the most impressive waves… minimum of 12ft and thundering in, one on top of the other – that might not sound much to an avid surfer, but for us here in the Med, it’s HUGE. The gusts of wind were so strong that we were able to lean back into them at a 45 degree angle and still stand on our feet! We had a wonderful walk and then took refuge in one of the (tongue-in-cheek) wonderfully expensive beach restaurants to recover!

But, we were here to talk about SNOW not WAVES, so back to the mountains…

Where are the REALLY FUN places to go skiing and snowboarding this season?

Whistler must be somewhere at the top of everyone’s list, despite their recent unlucky lift accident – where happily there were NO casualites. Where Whistler has been so clever is in its constant improvements and progressions to stay ahead of the game and cater for all new fads. Its funparks are the best in the business, its pistes are always corduroy in the mornings, its freeriding terrain is easily accessible and – due to the proximity of the Pacific – often blessed with powder. This year’s newest offering is the Peak-To-Peak gondola which will directly link Whistler and Blackcomb mountains for the first time and further increase the scope of the place. This is not the gondola which collapsed on 17th December – that one was on the Blackcomb mountain side – not that that should worry you now… they will be making damn sure it doesn’t happen again!

Whistler is also the site for the 2010 Winter Olympics, so the forward-thinking park shapers will be experimenting with their snow shaping tools in readiness for the upcoming event.

Whistler’s highest lift is 2,284m. There are 40 pistes for beginners, 110 for intermediate level and 50 for advanced.

Check out our Interactive Trail Map:

Explore over 8,100 acres of terrain, Terrain Parks and Half Pipes, Tree forts, Kids Adventure Parks, 200 marked trails from beginner to advanced, restaurants and chair lifts. Trail Map

That’s one destination for Canada.

How’s about America? Well, there’s Mammoth Mountain in California. The highest lift here is 3,369m and there are 19 pistes for beginners, 63 for intermediate level and  53 for advanced. Mammoth offers a very long season – lifts open at end of October and continue until early to mid-June. Some of the best riders come here to get ready for the forthcoming season – there’s cheap accommodation, three world-class parks and two fully-maintained superpipes. And, most importantly for Mammoth’s credibility… Shaun White has a yearly season pass. What further credentials do you need, hmmm?

Mammoth Mountain's Unbound Park


pdf_iconDownload Trail Map (2mb)

Now, across to Europe.

The choice is enormous and an individual’s opinion of the ‘best of…’ in each country will vary enormously. Enormously. However, I’m going to go for Val d’Isere. It’s high. It’s varied pistes are wonderful. The aprés ski is second to none. It’s season is long. And for a little more precise detail… Val d’Isere shares its ski area with Tignes. Tignes offers a fabulous choice but it is a modern purpose-built resort. Val d’Isere, on the other hand, has managed to retain its old world charm with wooden chalets in abundance and high-rise apartment blocks are definitely not ‘de riguer’. The highest lift is at 3,450 m, and there are 80 beginners’ pistes, 35 intermediate runs and 16 advanced. Between them, the two resorts share an incredible rideable area, complete with two fantastic funparks, the most well-maintained half-pipe in France and some unbelievable off-piste. Tignes is cheaper than Val d’Isere… for the moment. This is a dream skiing area accessible to everyone… from 1550 m to 3456 m, 300 km of slopes, 2 glaciers and 94 ultra-moderns ski lifts.

Interactive ski map (Lifts opening conditions)

Switzerland. Oh Switzerland. How to choose a resort here. I suppose I would have to plump for Verbier although it’s a difficult one. Switzerland has so much to offer – it contains dozens of worthwhile ski resorts, but Verbier is the premier ski resort of French-speaking Switzerland, with an unpretentious panache and a fun-filled atmosphere, but don’t get me wrong here – as my memory recalls… it’s not cheap, and if you want to know what the chic-est of the chic will be wearing this year – go to Verbier. However, that said, it lies at the heart of a sprawling, high-tech network of cable cars and gondolas that will connect you to such relatively unknown satellite resorts as Veysonnaz and La Tzoumaz. The resort is favored by world-class athletes for the difficulty of many of its slopes and it has two snowparks.The skiing in and around Verbier can be broken up into 4 areas, namely: Verbier, La Tzoumaz/Savoleyres, Bruson and Mt Fort/4 Valleys. All areas are quite distinct from one to the other, offering different types of terrain of varied difficulty. Passes can be bought for each of the areas individually or one pass that covers all. It lays claim to 94 lifts in the Four Valleys, accessed via a fancy electronic hands-free pass system. There are 410km of pistes.

One report I read claims that Verbier is spiritually positioned somewhere between Zurich and the Fulham Road. That says it all!

Veriber Piste Map

Now here’s a resort I don’t know – in Austria. Mayrhofen. The highest lift is at 3,286 m and there are 45 runs for beginners, 90 for the intermediate level, and 22 for advanced. This is a resort for those of you who are young, hip and slightly cash-strapped. The Zillertal Valley near Innsbruck is rapidly gaining a reputation as Austria’s hottest snowboarding spot. Mayrhofen is the main resort and is the biggest draw thanks to a world-class funpark that sits next to a super-fast four-man chair and is serviced by the biggest shaping crew in Europe. But if that isn’t enough to hold your attention for a week’s trip, the next-door resort of Kaltenbach is rapidly turning into one of Europe’s best freeride spots. Zillertal is also one of the cheapest destinations in the Alps and for this reason it is  popular with hordes of young seasonnaires and gap year riders.

Mayrhofen  piste map

and for a better idea, go to .

Livigno, Italy is next in line. Note here that I am doing one resort ONLY per country. If you feel there is a better resort than the one that I’ve written about please, please do tell me! Back to Livigno – the highest lift is 3000 m,  and there are 28 beginners’ pistes, 36 intermediate, and 10 advanced runs. It is said that it’s Italy’s best resort with an incredibly well-maintained funpark, a huge area to explore (with few crowds), and with a very vibrant snowboard scene. An added advantage is that, due to an ancient law, the whole valley is tax free… and any help you can get against the strong Euro this winter should be fervently embraced!

Livigno  piste map Website

And finally, here’s an off-the-wall one – Niseko, Japan. It doesn’t have many runs, but it is supposed to be the second most snowiest resort in the world. Which one is the first? Mount Baker in Washington… but it doesn’t offer what Niseko offers. Niseko’s  highest lift is only 1,308 m, and there are not that many runs:  22 – beginners, 0 for intermediates!!! and 17 for advanced skiers. However, it has got two funparks, a pike, a rail park and incredible arctic conditions which ensure perfect powder. The slopes are open from 8:30 a.m. through to 8:30 p.m. every day through the season. And then of course there is the cultural diversity – après ski noodle bars, saki and hot onsens, and a volcano in the background of your photos. Now that’s different. Plus they have an ice bar which, apparently, is one of the places to party.

Click image for full sized version of the Niseko Hirafu pistemap

Wherever you go, I hope you have a wonderful winter holiday.


Big Waves to think about this weekend…

December 26, 2008

Another Christmas has been and gone – I hope you all had a wonderful time and although the forecast is bleak, let’s hope we can all prove it wrong and have a wonderful 2009… best wishes to everyone.

And whilst we’re on ‘bleak’… it’s a bleak midwinter day here, so to cheer ourselves up I thought I’d tempt the senses with some big wave videos:

This one was off the Billabong Odessey, the biggest wave ever surfed! Thanks adrenalinerush99 for posting it.

and another… with thanks to marcomaui.


Billabong Big Wave Nominees 2008/2009

December 9, 2008

Do you remember my articles on the world’s biggest waves?

In this video Billabong’s nominees for the 2008 Big Wave champion (BillabongUSA) showcases some of those waves I talked about. Teahupoo, particularly, looks terrifying! The force and speed that that wave moves with, must be really awe inspiring when you are surfing it.

As a matter of information, and for those of you who have short memories (!!!), in March this year, the $50,000 Billabong XXL Ride of the Year Award was captured by Shane Dorian of Kona, Hawaii for his remarkable near-disaster backside tube ride at Teahupoo, Tahiti.

In the meantime, things are already hotting up for the 2009 awards:


We might be well on our way into the winter months here in the northern hemisphere, but down south things are hotting up with  Australia, Tasmania, South Africa, Spain and Puerto Rico leading the way. The 9th Annual Billabong Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy is off to a brilliant start courtesy of mother Nature who is providing, and has provided, major swells all around the world over the past 7 months.

Front-runners for the awards at the moment (and the wave or event that they are being judged on) are:

  • Grant “Twiggy” Baker, South Africa – Tafelberg Reef, Cape Town, in August.
  • James Taylor, South Africa  – Red Bull Big Wave Africa
  • Greg Long, California – the tube ride at the Red Bull BWA
  • Damien “Taco” Warr, Australia – Outer Bommie, Western Australia
  • Mark Matthews, Australia – Outer Bommie
  • Ryan Hipwood, Australia – Shipstern’s Bluff
  • Carlos Cabrero, Puerto Rico – Tres Palmas
  • Iban Amatriain, Basque, Spain – Mundaka (I think…)
  • Axier Muniain, Basque, Spain – again – Mundaka (?)

James at RBA

Grant Baker and James Taylor sharing a wave – Dungeons, Hout Bay, Cape Town.

And just a reminder… the Billabong Pipeline Masters began yesterday (8th December) at Oahu, Hawaii. The Pipeline is the “ultimate surfing gladiator pit”. It is a trio of lava reefs midway along the North Shore’s famed ‘Seven Mile Stretch’. The inside reef breaks so close to the shore that, as a spectator, you can almost high five the surfer in the tube! Pipeline is the left, Backdoor is the right – and this wave roars to life during huge West swells… more on this competition later.


Big Wave Champions

October 10, 2008

Do you remember my articles on Big Waves earlier this year? Well, here are two Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Award videos to titivate your senses. Some of those waves being challenged were fully researched earlier and the second video has the 2008 crowning of the “kings of the big waves”. Enjoy … and thanks to BillabongUSA for posting the videos.


Mike Parsons surfs Cotez Banks

July 29, 2008

Well, we’ve done a trilogy of articles on surfing but here’s Mike Parston’s actually surfing Cortes Bank back in January – thanks to frompalmdale : by the way you don’t have to watch the whole 5 minutes unless you want to listen to Red Hot Chilli Peppers ‘Californication’ all the way to the end – it’s kinda cool – but I reckon Mike is surfing for about 1minute 10 seconds. However, imagine the buzz you get from surfing a wave of this magnitude – an extreme buzz you could say – well done Mike!

We have subsequently been advised that this is almost definitely NOT Cortes Bank as no-one wears just a spring suit at when surfing there as it only breaks during California’s winter months and no helicopter shots have been taken of Cortes Bank as it is too far out. The wave is more likely to be Peahi (Jaws) in Maui…


The World’s Most Extreme Waves – The Rest of The World

July 27, 2008

“Waves are not measured in feet and inches, they are measured in increments of fear”         Buzzy Trent

Surfers measure waves from the back so if the biggest wave of the day was 30 feet according to their measurements you will find that to the watchers on the other side of the wave, a surfer could be riding a wave that is sixty feet tall, the height of a six-story building.


CYCLOPS, Western Australia

This is mainland Australia’s heaviest wave. It is rarely surfed by tow-in and surfers tend to favour bodyboards as it breaks onto shallow rocks. It is a righthand wave which breaks on a coral reef. It is hollow, fast and powerful and ranks very highly in the ratings – “totally epic” is how I’ve heard it described!


Shipstern’s Bluff is a fast deep water extremely powerful reef break near Tasmania, South Australia which breaks onto huge boulers in freezing waters! It is an amazing wave if you can get there as it’s hard to find and you have about an hour and a half walk-in. Because of this and the cold water, menacing size and sharp reef there is never a crowd there. It is a right hand wave which is best at low tide. The best season is winter and the hazards are rocks and sharks! It is a wave for advanced surfers only.




The wave is named after rocks on the western edge of Towan Head and works when a low spring tide combines with a south-east wind within the Cribbar, a shallow reef off Fistral Beach. With 30-foot waves that are definitely not for the inexperienced, it is more similar to surf off Hawaii than North Cornwall. Surfers are towed by Jet Ski into the monster wave.

Only a few surfers actually dare ride the wave when it appears. According to local legend, three Australians first rode the highly dangerous wave in 1966. Looking more like a suicidal situation, only four surfers were brave enough to surf the Cribbar this year. Among them were three people from the UK and one South African.

The wave is a dream for surfers. Modern technology such as weather track systems and meteorological data allow surfers to make sure they do not miss the opportunity. “It’s a big thing in a surfer’s life. They make sure that they are fit and healthy for this moment so they can’t miss it when it comes,” says Tom Oliver, a spectator from the car park at Fistral Beach.

Local surfer Lee Hallam, 28, says ‘I have watched a few people try and surf it unsuccessfully. I have only recently seen one person who actually surfed it- a travelling South African, big wave surfer Chris Bertish. It is very powerful and if you make a mistake it could have disastrous consequences!’

The Cribbar is for the highly skilled, and otherwise should be left alone.



The best big wave riders will chase this Antarctic swell which steams towards south west Tahiti and the reef at Teahupoo, home to some of the most spectacular and dangerous waves ever faced by surfers. This wave is generated by open ocean swells hitting the coral atoll reef with Hawaiian type power. It is probably the heaviest wave in the world and it is certainly the thickest. It is a wave that has claimed lives and brought the great Laird Hamilton close to tears after an incredible ride.


Dungeons, Hout Bay

Dungeons combines an offshore rock reef with cold water, white sharks and massive swells which definitely puts it right up there with the world’s other most dangerous waves. Hout Bay, also known as “Dungeons” to the surfing community, is one of the sixteen recognised big wave spots around the globe. The annual Red Bull Big Wave Africa competition is held here. Swells of up to 47 feet have been recorded as well as numerous deaths as a result of shark attacks and surfing related incidents. The spot consists of various reefs. The most popular is called “2.5 “since it is 2.5 m deep. Behind it is “3.5”, which is 3.5 m deep. There is also a reef that is reputed to be able to hold a 100 ft high wave, should one ever come. Before the use of jetskis or charter boat (which is a 20-minute boat trip out) to enter and leave the area, the surfers who braved these waters had to paddle through a dark and deep channel, through to where the waves break.




One doesn’t really expect to find a big wave in Europe, but this one can hold its own with the best of them. Belharra is an outer reef situated 2km outside Saint Jean de Luz in the French Basque region. You need a boat or jetski to go there.

This is a wave for advanced surfers. The wave occurs on a rocky reef and breaks to the right and left. The bottom is coral and sharp rocks. It’s a very hollow, fast and powerful wave of about 50 – 150m length but on a good day can go from 150 – 300m. The swell direction comes from the northwest, west and southwest. Swell size starts at about 3.5m (12ft). In 2003, 2 local tow-in surfers surfed waves of 60ft. The wave only breaks on rare occasions (5 days a year maybe). It comes in on a deep ocean trench and unleashes its power on the reef. The general feeling is that no-one yet knows what size Belharra could go to.