The 10 Tallest Waves Ever Recorded

Gentle waves are often seen at the beach and in the ocean, and it’s truly impressive to observe the surfers who ride them.

But have you ever imagined what it would be like to ride a wave that was nearly as tall as the world’s tallest building? Let’s not get ahead of yourself, this article provides a list of the highest waves ever recorded, along with information about when and where they happened, among other things.

1. Alaska’s Lituya Bay’s 172 wave 

In 1958, the highest tsunami ever recorded was caused by an earthquake and subsequent landslide in Alaska’s Lituya Bay, producing a wave of around 1720 ft in height.

The force of the wave was sufficient to break trees 1,700 feet up slope as it crashed onshore. There were 5 fatalities, but because there were so few populated areas in the area, property damage was quite low.

2. Wahoo Nuclear Test Wave 

The test (called Wahoo in code) was conducted on May 16th, 1958. The explosion occurred in open water near the Marshall Islands’ Enewetak Atoll. The Nuclear Weapons Archive reports that the Wahoo weapon exploded 3,200 feet below the surface of the ocean. 

The test was presumably conducted to evaluate the weapon’s efficiency against surface ships and a submerged submarine.

The wave created by the test reached an incredible height of 800ft. 

3. 100ft wave surfed by Garrett McNamara

In January 2013 Garrett McNamara surfed a 100ft wave in Nazare Portugal. This is the biggest wave ever surfed, but unfortunately, this feat was not officially recorded making the 86ft wave surfed by Sebastian Steudtne in 2020 the official record holder for the tallest wave ever surfed 

Not only did Garrett McNamara come out of this wave alive, but he also managed to stay on his board the whole time.

4. The tallest wave ever surfed 

Sebastian Steudtner, a surfer from Germany, rode a wave that measured 86 feet (26.21 meters), setting a new male world record and breaking the old mark by 20 feet. 

The historic attempt by Steudtner took place on October 29, 2020, at a World Surf League event at Praia do Norte, Nazaré, Portugal. Steudtner received his record from the Guinness Book of World Records in a ceremony held at the Praia do Norte lighthouse, which overlooks the ocean where he set the record.

5. Draupner wave

Rogue waves, which are rapid, unexpected swells, were mostly disregarded by academics as marine fiction until 1995. On the first day of the new year, however, an 84-foot wave was recorded by a monitoring platform off the coast of Norway, surrounded by 20-foot waves.

Simply put, these monstrosities occur when the crests of two or more waves collide and align in such a way that they become one much larger crest.

6. 80ft wave surfed by Rodrigo Koxa

Brazilian professional big wave surfer and extreme waterman Rodrigo ‘Koxa’ Augusto do Espírito Santo (born September 22, 1979) achieved the record for the longest wave ever rode on November 8, 2017, at Nazaré, Portugal, and held it until 2020. 

In addition to breaking a Guinness record, the World Surf League also presented this event with the Quiksilver XXL Biggest Wave Award.

7. 78ft wave surfed by Garrett McNamara

American extreme waterman and professional big wave surfer Garrett ‘GMAC’ McNamara (born August 10, 1967) has been in the sport for four decades. In a surf session on November 1, 2011, he rode a wave that measured 78 feet in height, at the time the highest wave ever surfed.

Until the Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa rode a wave that was 80 feet in height in 2017, he held the record for the tallest wave ever surfed. 

8. 77ft wave surfed by Mike Parsons

On January 5, 2008, in Cortes Bank, Parsons was photographed surfing a wave that the Billabong XXL judged to be 77 feet, thereby officially placing him in the Guinness Book of World Records for the biggest wave ever surfed, surpassing his previous record of 66 feet.

Nearly 4 years later, on November 1, 2011, Garrett McNamara broke his record on a 78-foot wave near Nazaré, Portugal.

9. 73ft wave surfed by Maya Gabeira

April 10, 1987, saw the birth of Brazilian big wave surfer Maya Reis Gabeira. She is well known for surfing the largest wave ever ridden by a woman, a 22.4 m (73 ft) monster that she rode in Nazaré, Portugal in February 2020. 

Previously in January of 2018, she rode a wave that measured 20.8 meters (68 feet), which was then the world record for the largest wave ever surfed by a woman.

10. 70.5 feet wave surfed by Justine Dupont

Justin has consistently ridden what are perhaps the largest waves ever surfed by a woman anywhere in the globe.

Two medals at the 2019 XXL Big Waves Awards cement her status as a big-wave surfing industry icon. 

In February of 2020, she was second only to Maya Reis Gabeira in terms of the largest waves surfed by a woman on the globe. She also became the first person to ever win the Nazaré Tow Challenge.

Originally posted on July 29, 2022 @ 8:59 am