Size matters. Never have these words been more apt than for the big wave crew. With waves the size of skyscrapers, from California to Tahiti the world’s big wave spots are coveted by those who ride them, with a passion for the most extreme adrenaline rush. Here’s a run down of the top five big wave spots and the women who ride them.


Located in North California, here huge swells rushing in from deep water encounter a mile-long reef, which produces A-frame peaks with a thick lip. Dangerous, shark-infested and foggy, this hollow, powerful wave puts surfers to the test with waves up from 30-50 feet.

No stranger to big waves Keala Kennelly takes on Mavs above. Photo Hallman


Made famous from the epic 2011 Code Red swell, Teahupoo, packs a punch like Floyd Mayweather and can be ridden up to 45 feet. The mutant reef has had its pound of flesh from surfers over the years, with heavy waves breaking onto a shallow reef.

Vahine Fierro at home in a Teahupoo slab. Photo Tim McKenna


The most notorious wave on Maui is Jaws – or Pe’ahi as it’s also known. At the end of a dirt road, from the lookout on the cliffs you can watch tiny figures skip down monsters of 60 feet plus.

Bianca Valenti on a jaw-dropping wave. Photo Morris


The west coast of Portugal is a mini swell magnet and home to Europe’s big wave spot, Nazaré, where waves tipping 80 feet have been ridden. The world record breaking big wave spot, here huge waves break in relative close proximity to the land, making the ultimate big wave viewing experience.

Pitting herself against the elements with the ultimate display of a surfer’s bravery, French big wave rider Justine Dupont at Nazaré in September. Photo: Poullenot


Ireland’s big wave spot is a dangerous, shallow reef break that breaks at high tide. Ridden by Irish surfer Easkey Britton, who says: “There’s no reason you can’t be a hardcore charger and have a bright pink board.”

Easkey drops into a meaty Mullaghmore wave.