The 10 Most Dangerous Surf Spots in the World

The 10 Most Dangerous Surf Spots in the World

The 10 Most Dangerous Surf Spots in the World

Surfing any wave is an accomplishment — from delicate undulations that are barely visible to mountainous walls of rushing water that max out at well over 30 feet. But there are some surf spots that are reserved exclusively for the professionals and even then, only after careful pause.

These are the 10 Most Dangerous Surf Spots in the World, and they are talked about in elite surf circles in hushed, reverent tones. From the shark-infested waters of South Africa to the powerhouses off the coasts of California and Mexico, there are waves around the world that will leave you humbled by the sheer force and magnitude of nature.


Location: Oahu, Hawaii

Highlights: Oahu's North Shore is the ultimate when it comes to surfing in Hawaii — maybe even the world. The shallow water and coral reef create one of the most dimensionally perfect barrels on the planet.

Pipeline, Hawaii

What makes it so dangerous? 

Unfortunately, the reason for its perfection is also the reason for its deadliness. Pipeline’s shape and shallow reef creates heavy waves that can be (and have been) killers.

Often, when the waves do not turn deadly, they have instead caused career-ending injuries.


9. Shipsterns Bluff

Location: Tasmania, Australia

Highlights: This secluded corner of southeastern Tasmania is known for its depth of the ocean floor, which produces a wave that changes its form as it breaks. It is often regarded as one of the most unpredictable spots to surf.

Shipsterns Bluff

What makes it so dangerous? 

The unpredictability of the waves, for one. Secondly, the frigid Antarctic waters can swell up to 25 feet in height. And let us not forget that these waters are also teeming with great white sharks, which is not the most welcome surfing company.

8. Cyclops

Western Australia

Highlights: Cyclops is one of the least surfed waves in the world, due to the fact that it can only be accessed by boat. It is also one of the newest waves on the international surf map. The change of depth is intense, which causes Cyclops to explode in giant bursts of energy and to take on a shape like no other wave in the world. Its oval barrels is what give it its Cyclops name.

Cyclops, Australia

What makes it so dangerous? 

The waves are impossible to paddle, which means you will need to take a boat to get there. One wrong move and the waves will send you hurdling head on into a bed of rocks.

And don’t forget: Western Australia is one of the most remote places in the world, so if anything does go awry, you are hours from the nearest hospital.

7. One Palm Point

Location: West Java, Indonesia

Highlights: Where can you find a left-hand barrel that runs for almost a mile? One Palm Point, just off the coast of West Java. It's a gorgeous wave that is chased by only the most daring and experienced.

One Palm Point

What makes it so dangerous?

If you do make it out to One Palm Point, you'll likely see surfers in customized body armor suits and full-on helmets. Why? It's because the mega wave crashes down onto a dry reef for the entire ride.

What's more, the nearest medical facility is half a day's travel away.

6. Cortes Bank

Location: 100 miles off the coast of Southern California

Highlights: Cortes Bank is one of those surf breaks that you need to see to believe. It's rumored to hold the biggest surfable waves in the world depending on the conditions and time of year. That said, getting there is no easy feat, so you have to be completely devoted to the cause — and you have to be pretty darn good at surfing.


Cortes Bank

What makes it so dangerous? 

It's a tumultuous part of the ocean, where shipwrecks are more than common, lingering not far beneath the surface of the water. Many of these shipwrecks have rebar sticking up like spires, and the waves crash perilously close.

Not only that, sharks are not uncommon in these parts, and there is absolutely no land in sight for miles.

5. Nazare

Location: Nazare, Portugal

Highlights: It is, without a doubt, one of the largest waves in the world. Expect walls of water nearly 70- to 80-feet high, crushing Guinness World Records over the years. Any discussion of the top 10 most dangerous spots in the world would have to include this famous place.

Nazare Portugal

What makes it so dangerous? 

This wave has recently been removed from the Big Wave Tour, and most surfers have stopped trying to conquer it. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, it’s also important to note that the waves break on the edge of a very deep underwater canyon.

There is almost no room for error, and nowhere in the area is considered to be a “safety zone.”

4. Teahupoo

Location: Tahiti

Highlights: Teahupoo comes with the reputation of being one of the heaviest waves in the world. Most days, this swath of electric blue water sweeps seamlessly over a gorgeous and brightly colored reef, known to the locals as the "End of the Road."


What makes it so dangerous? 

The semi-circular angle of the reef creates a unique shape of the wave. Sometimes, Teahupoo can transform into a colossal wave that is wider than it is tall, which can often look like a wall of water rushing at you.

These waves can be either the best surf of your life ... or the worst.

3. Jaws

Location: Maui, Hawaii

Highlights: Just off the North Shore of Maui, underneath the towering cliffs, lives Jaws (aka Peahi). The wave was discovered by windsurfers but has evolved to become a paddle-in surf spot among the professionals. It’s fast and hard, but a favorite among the top dogs in surfing.


Jaws, Maui Hawaii

What makes it so dangerous? 

The velocity of the wave is what makes it so fun, but it’s also what makes it so dangerous. 

At the other end of the wave is a sheer cliff wall, so if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, it can be a perilous, maybe even deadly, ride.

2. The Mexico Pipeline

Location: Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca

Highlights: Known as the Mexico Pipeline, the waves just off the coast of Puerto Escondido's Playa Zicatela can reach as high as 15 feet and come in set after set. Puerto Escondido does not have an underwater or onshore bathymetric feature and is a bucket-list wave for international surfers.

The Mexican Pipeline Surf spot

What makes it so dangerous? 

Mexico Pipeline may just be one of the heaviest waves in the world. Making the paddle out is an accomplishment in itself. Be prepared to watch the majority of surfers wipeout.

The ocean drops off hundreds of feet very close to shore, which means surfers are facing vast, open ocean swells. The perfect barrel shape of the wave can be the ride of your life, but it also can chew you up and spit you out.

1. St Leu

Location: Reunion Island (a French territory)

Highlights: Back in the day, St. Leu was once a thriving surf spot, known for the first Rip Curl Search event and the left-hand reef point that produced gorgeous waves.

St leu Surf spot

What makes it so dangerous? 

In a word, sharks.  Sadly, the surf industry here has been all but abandoned thanks to the sheer volume of sharks in the water. 

Granted, many surf destinations come with the risk of sharks, but St. Leu happens to have an exceedingly high concentration, which has led to many shark attacks over the years. It's so bad, that the government has banned swimming in the area.

There you have it, the top 10 most dangerous surf spots in the world. We can think of about 20 more places that will give surfers nightmares, but we'll save that for another time.