Warren Keelan Photography

Oahu, Hawaii-North Shore
Hawaii is the original home of surfing. The Polynesians began the sacred ritualistic sport here more than 500 years ago. Today, Hawaii is home to most of the Big Wave surfing and some of the most coveted breaks exist in this island paradise.

The North Shore on the island of Oahu has gigantic winter waves and is commonly referred to as 'wild water'. The North Shore covers almost 20 miles of beautiful, open sandy beaches that produce mammoth 20-30 foot waves from October to February. The most famous of these breaks is at `Ehukai Beach, known worldwide as the Banzai Pipeline. This ferocious tube breaks over a coral reef that bottoms out at under 24 inches and the waves are normally 10 feet high. This is the place were surfing legends are made and broken.
Another North Shore Big Wave surf spot is Waimea Beach. The Quicksilver Eddie Aikau Invitational competition is held here annually, with wave requirements being 20 feet or higher. This winter wonderland of monster waves is also one of the most dangerous surfing locations in the world. In the summertime, the water is flat and is a charming spot for snorkeling, fishing and swimming.

Cape Town, South Africa- Jeffries Bay
With its mountain backdrop, incredible wildlife, beautiful seashore and gnarly waves, Cape Town and its surrounding breaks are paradise incarnate for the seasoned surfer.

There are all sorts of secret breaks and deserted beaches along South Africa's Wild Coast. 375 miles to the west of Cape Town is Eastern Cape, home to Jeffries Bay, or J-Bay as it is known, is a pristine spot for consistent surf with famous curls. "Supertubes" beach brings perfect waves that are considered to be unparalleled anywhere else in the world. In July, professional surfers gather here for the Billabong Pro tournament. Other notable surfing breaks are Bruce's Beauties and Cape St. Francis from Endless Summer fame. Tourism has destroyed some of J-Bay's charm, however as cheap apartment buildings have sprung up in the area, detracting from its natural beauty.
Watch out for sharks! This area has the reputation of attracting sharks in droves due to the Indian Ocean's warm water. The breaks in the area that will get you totally stoked are Boneyards, Dungeons, Kitchen Windows, Phantoms and Magnatubes. Some of these beaches can surprise you with a wave you can ride for up to three minutes.

Half Moon Bay, Northern California- Mavericks
Named after a sea-worthy German shepherd in 1961, this beach and its break has become synonymous with Big Wave surfing. It is the only place where surfers can find waves from 25-50 feet in the winter outside of Hawaii. The extraordinary rock formation underwater is the reason for this break's Big Wave phenomenon, luring many of the world's best big wave surfers to Pillar Point Harbor, north of Half Moon Bay. Although Mavericks was named in 1961 and surfed by only a few brave surfers for many years, today it has become a popular destination for surfers who want to catch a big wave in California. In 1999, the first annual Invitation-Only Mavericks Surf Contest was formed. This contest gives the top names in big wave surfing 24 hour notice to show up and rip, possibly leaving with cash prizes. Crowds of over 40,000 spectators gather to watch these surfers take on the cold water, unpredictable and strong current conditions of this paddle-in contest.