List of The Biggest/Tallest Waves Ever Recorded

Did you know that surfing made its debut as an Olympic sport in Tokyo Olympics 2020, held in July 2021, due to the COVID-19 epidemic?

Surfing is a favorite pastime in most beach communities, but we have the pros at the highest cadres of surfing. Professional surfers earn their bread and butter by riding some of the biggest waves.

While most waves are caused by wind, some of the biggest waves are caused by the shifting of the sea bed during earthquakes. Those waves caused by tectonic plate (seabed) shifts are called Tsunamis.

However, the waves that are a surfer’s delight are caused by the wind far offshore. As these waves travel towards land, they encounter shallower ground. Due to the massive energy they carry and the progressively shallow ground, the waves can only get higher. 

Surfers have identified various sites around the world that consistently deliver incredible waves.

List of Biggest/Tallest Waves Ever Recorded

The biggest waves ever recorded in history have been caused by a variety of phenomena, including earthquakes, landslides, tides, etc.

1. 29 ft.

A 29-foot wave has been observed to occur in Hangzhou, China. As it is locally known, the Silver Dragon forms in the opposite direction of the Qiantang River’s flow as it empties into the East China Sea. The wave is observed to be highest in September.

2. 30 ft.

Waves as high as 30 feet have been observed in Banzai Pipeline Oahu, Hawaii. These waves are a menace because they break on shallow razor-sharp reefs. More than ten people are believed to have lost their lives trying to surf the Banzai Pipeline.

3. 50 ft.

In 2004, a massive tsunami in the Indian Ocean obliterated several beaches and caused over 220,000 deaths. Waves as high as 50 feet traveling at over 500 miles per hour were observed.

4. 78 ft.

Iconic surfer Garrett McNamara surfed a 78-foot wave in 2011 at Nazare, Portugal. He claimed to have ridden a 100-foot wave at the same location, but he did not officially confirm the height in that incredible feat.

5. 84 ft.

Scientists had always dismissed the existence of rogue waves. These waves are formed if smaller waves are in such perfect harmony that they birth a bigger combined wave. However, in 1995, an 80-foot wave surrounded by 20 footers was observed off the Norwegian coast.

6. 100 ft.

In 1958 at Lituya Bay, Alaska, a 100-foot wave was observed. This behemoth was caused by an earthquake being swiftly followed by a landslide.

This wave is the largest ever observed, and it had devastating results. Mature trees were snapped in half as far inland as 1,700 feet upslope. Luckily, the area was scarcely populated with few towns and cities near the shore. However, five people lost their lives.

 A final notable mention is Chicama, located in Puerto Malabrigo on the central north coast of Peru. This location has some of the longest waves observed. You can ride a wave for almost 3km!

List of Locations With Big Waves

Some locations always deliver pure gold when it comes to waves and is regularly frequented by pro surfers. They include:

1. Playa Zicatela, Mexico

Playa Zicatela in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, has been christened the Mexican Pipeline after Hawaii’s more famous Pipeline.

Although it usually looks like a hollow beach break, massive barrels and broken boards are not unusual on a large swell.

2. Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii

Pipeline has gained a reputation for dishing out some of the biggest, dangerous waves in pro surfing.

The icing on the cake is that these massive waves break on shallow table-top reef metres from shore. This makes it a photographer’s heaven as most of the action can be captured from the beach.

3. Cortes Bank, California

Cortes Bank is a very remote location 100 miles off the Californian coastline with monster waves. Waves here are formed due to the presence of submerged mountain ridges that magnify the size of the waves.

4. Waimea Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

Waimea Bay is a competitor of Pipeline, Hawaii, as they are only a few miles apart. It is so consistent that surfing tournaments are held there.

The Eddie Invitational has been hosted there severally. It provides an alternate spot in case of big swells at the more accessible Pipeline.

5. The Right, Western Australia

This location is just off the coast and offers heavy barrels. It is strictly a tow-in location, so you have to be on the lookout for sharks and other creatures of the deep.

The location offers a very swift barrel as the inner section tends to break off in front of the previous section.

6. Shipstern’s Bluff, Tasmania

This spot is very popular with surfers due to the unique waves it churns up.

The shape of the location causes surfers to overcome a mid-air drop as the wave doubles up and creates a step on its face. A lot of exciting footage has been filmed at this location.

7. Mavericks, California

Many have dubbed this location the most dangerous surfing spot in the world. It is a paddle-only spot exposing surfers to dangers like riptides.

You also have to perfect your take-offs as you will be on your own. The waters can also drop to a frigid 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

8. Teahupo’o, Tahiti

This location has monstrous waves that break on razor-sharp reefs, so it’s no place for newbies.

It was considered non-surfable as recently as the 1990s; however, it is tow-in and paddle-friendly. It also has a deep channel next to the break where boats and photographers flock to capture the action.

9. Nazaré, Portugal

In the video above, Garrett McNamara set a world record surfing a 100ft wave at Nazaré in Portugal.

Originally posted on December 22, 2021 @ 10:28 am