Ice cold water, big sharks, shallow water with lots of rocks, and 50' swells.
Oh, yeah.....and no self-preservation instinct.
Mavericks. This monster reef break, located in Half Moon Bay, California, is primarily a right, though a few maniacs have been known to go left. Jeff Clark pioneered Mavs in 1975 and surfed it alone for 15 years. Today, Mavericks is one of the most respected and feared big waves on the planet. Large waves, cold water, big sharks, and crazy currents are all part of the Mavericks mystique.
Waimea Bay. The original, and still one of the best big wave surfing destinations, the bay is the birthplace of big wave surfing. Although Waimea has been overshadowed in recent years, Waimea will always remain one the ultimate big wave proving grounds. Waimea is also the host of Quiksilvers In Memory of Eddie Aikau, one of the most prestigious and respected competition in the sport.
Dungeons. South Africas hellish big wave spot has one of the more terrifying names on the big wave circuit, and with good reason. Dungeons is a cold water reef break, with shifty peaks, strong currents, and a close proximity to one of the most shark infested areas on earth. Situated in Cape Towns Hout Bay, the view from the lineup is so beautiful that it is almost easy to forget that everything in the water is trying to kill you.
Todos Santos. Mexico boasts two of the best big wave surfing destinations. This Mexican mammoth breaks off a tiny island off the Baja Penninsula. With slightly warmer water, and slightly less deadly waves, Todos is where many California maniacs get their first taste of very large surf. Still, the waves here should not be taken lightly, its not quite Mavs, but its still serious enough to obliterate the average surfer.
Ghost Trees. This Central Californian behemoth is a relatively new addition to the worlds big wave circuit. Adjacent to the famous Pebble Beach golf course, Ghost Trees, also known as Pescadero Point, is a heaving right-reef break that breaks dangerously close to jagged rocks. Ghost Trees has gained media attention lately both for the death of Peter Davi and for controversy over the use of PWCs.
Puerto Escondido. Puerto can be your best friend or your worst nightmare. Infamous for breaking bones and bodies, Puerto Escondido is the only beach-break on this list, and it certainly packs some punch. Local and international hell-men have ridden some of the largest barrels ever recorded off the sandbars of this tiny Mexican town, making Puerto one of the best big wave surfing destinations around.
Teahupo’o. So far, all of the best big wave surfing destinations on this list have been lefts, but that tend ends here. Tahitis Teahupoo (pronounced Cho-pu) is more a freak of nature than a wave. When waves break here it looks like the entire ocean is spilling over itself and exploding on the reef. At tow-in only size, the waves and subsequent barrels take the shape of obscene spinning vortexes of death.
Jaws. This Hawaiian outer-reef off the coast of Maui skyrocketed into fame both for the sheer size and power of its spitting blue barrels and for its role in the invention of tow-surfing. Jaws is Laird Hamiltons personal playground and testing grounds, and it was at Jaws that Laird, Dave Kalama, and the strapped crew revolutionized big-wave surfing forever.
Cortes Bank. Another new addition to the worlds best big wave surfing destination, this open ocean beasts breaks 100 miles off the coast of San Diego. First surfed in 1995, many believe that Cortes is one of the few spots capable of holding the famed 100 feet wave.
Punta de los Lobos. Point of the Wolves in Chile is another one of the few left only best big wave surf destinations. This left point is unique in the fact that it starts working around 4 feet and continues to hold waves over 40 feet.