5 of the greatest waves you’ll never surf

Profiling a few of the most terrifying waves on the planet

After getting a copy of the just-released book “100 Greatest Waves” by TransWorld Surf and Weldon Owen, we decided to take a deeper look at some of the featured surf spots. What we found is this: these guys are trying to kill you! True, there are the typical high-profile and user-friendly spots mentioned (Malibu, Costa Rica, New Jersey), but along with these beginner friendly locales are far more menacing locations with names that sound medieval and photos that will make you think twice about ever paddling out. … Here are five that seemed particularly menacing:

Greatest waves: Michael Hoult in Tasmania; photo by Stu Gibson

Spot X, Tasmania
Located far offshore in the rugged Australian state of Tasmania, this unnamed wave is really just a jagged rock that rears its ugly head out of the ocean. Due to its location, you need a Jet Ski just to get to the wave. After that you’ll need a skilled driver to properly place you onto the wave. One wrong step out here and you’re eating a face full of rocks. Oh, did we mention that it’s a two-hour trip to the nearest hospital?

Greatest waves: Greg Long at Dungeons; photo by Al Mackinnon

Dungeons, Hout Bay, South Africa
If the name alone doesn’t frighten you, then maybe this will: there’s a seal colony in between the break and the beach that lives on what locals call “Death Rock.” It got its name from carnage that ensues when seals are devoured by massive great white sharks that inhabit the area. “The ocean down there is alive,” said big-wave surfer Greg Long on a well-watched YouTube clip. “When you’re in the lineup you can smell the seal crap and hear them barking. It’s deep water all around and a couple miles away they do shark cage diving. There’s definitely an eerie vibe to the wave.” Sounds fun huh? Factor in the cold water and that it doesn’t even begin to break until the waves hit 15 feet, and you’ve got yourself a real good reason to give Dungeons a pass.

Greatest waves: David Weare at St. Leu, Reunion Island; photo by Greg Ewing

Saint Leu, Reunion Island
Located in the southwest corner of Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, Saint Leu is an absolutely perfect wave. There’s just one problem—sharks. Since 2011, five people have been killed by what’s assumed to be bull and tiger sharks. “It’s pretty heavy. I’ve lost so many friends and brothers,” says pro surfer Jeremy Flores. The reason for the rise in shark attacks is debated, but one thing is for certain: surfing in these now-empty waters is a perilous undertaking.

Greatest waves: Matt Meola at Jaws; photo by Brent Bielmann

Jaws, Maui
The biggest, most badass wave on the planet, Jaws, is intimidating to even the most seasoned big-wave riders. First pioneered by the legendary Laird Hamilton, Jaws on its easiest day is a 30-foot wall of water with strong trade winds gusting up the face. Once the waves get bigger than that, out come the Jet Skis that are used to tow surfers into surf that can reach 80 feet. Fall in conditions like that and you’re helpless, as Jet Skis can’t navigate the boiling cauldron of water. With hazards like that, it’s easy to see why only the most elite big-wave surfers even attempt to take on the massive surf at Jaws.

Greatest waves: Richie Vaculik at Ours; photo by Spencer Hornby

Ours, Sydney, Australia
Breaking viciously mere yards from razor sharp rocks, Ours is a relative newcomer to the “Do Not Surf Here” list. First pioneered by bodyboarders because it was deemed too dangerous for surfing, Ours has now become the proving grounds for a group of surfers called the “Bra Boys.” Preferring fisticuffs over discourse, the Bra Boys are a group not to be messed with. And if the locals (like MMA fighter Richie Vaculik pictured above) don’t steer you away from surfing here, the sheer danger factor of the wave most certainly will, as it’s common for even the most talented to get washed up and over the jagged rock cliff fronting the wave.

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