The Gnarliest Waves at Nazareé, Portugal: Not For the Faint-Hearted
The little Portuguese fishing village of Nazaré is a surfing hotspot during the summer months, but in winter only the real thrill-seekers stick around. One of these is undoubtedly Garrett McNamara, the big wave big boy from the US, who in 2011 broke the record for the biggest wave ever surfed — and he smashed it right here in Nazaré.
Big Names, Bigger Waves
This monster wave measured 78 feet and in 2013 McNamara returned to Nazaré where he surpassed his own record, riding an absolute whopper estimated to be 100 feet tall. Later that year, Carlos Burle of Brazil conquered a wave that seemed even bigger, winning international recognition with surfers worldwide.
In 2014 Andrew Cotton from Plymouth followed suit, and is now known as one of the 4 surfers who have ridden the hugest waves around these parts. He started surfing when he was seven, so if you want to check out these waves you’re going to need a lot of practice or some pretty decent surf travel insurance…
Why Such Big Waves?!
Nazaré is such a Mecca for surfers because of its enormous waves, and these waves exist for our adrenaline-fuelled enjoyment thanks to the make up of its ocean floor topography. Just like Hawaii’s Banzai Pipeline, the Tahitian Teahupoo and northern California’s Mavericks (amazing surfing spots any surfer worth their salt know!), Nazaré’s ocean floor boasts a huge underwater gorge.
The Nazaré Canyon stretches 125 miles, starting barely half a mile from the shore and reaching way out into the abyssal plain of the Atlantic Ocean. At 16,000 feet, its unbelievable depth, coupled with its perfect positioning, helps to magnify the waves that approach the Praia do Norte beach in Nazaré. It’s because of this that almost every single day you can bear witness to monster waves up to 4 times the size of those found elsewhere along the coast.
Daredevils and Pros Alike: Surf Travel Insurance is as Essential as Board Wax!
It’s undisputed that tackling these waves is not for the faint of heart. Monster waves often move much faster than others, which forces boarders to get distance from the dangerous, frothy white water as fast as they can.
This kind of surfing is less about aesthetics than its tamer cousin: think extreme sport rather than showy carving, quick cutbacks and pretty floaters. This is about braving the aggro (bad weather), tough conditions and brutal waves while trying to remain upright and avoid reef injuries, wipeout, or even death…
While we wouldn’t recommend big wave surfing to those who aren’t pros, now is a good time to start planning your summer surf trip to enjoy the sun and sea at your (adventurous) leisure! Before you race off to enjoy the surf, travel insurance is a must-buy. Embrace the waves without the fear of monstrous medical bills should anything go wrong. You never know, with a little practice you could even be the next big name to be borne of Nazarés big waves! Surf’s up!