“The Waves of Nazaré” – The Biggest Surfing Waves in the World

Every surfer, when he begins his journey in the world of surfing, dreams and plans to ride one day the biggest wave on the planet.

When any surfing festival or competition takes place, the objective is to achieve a giant wave, if possible the biggest in the world, because it will be a unique moment, full of emotion, fame and publicity.

In our surf school we offer you the best surf camp, where you will be able to perceive the best emotions that surfing and its waves offer us:

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The World’s Biggest Giant Waves

At this point we will see what many have considered the Three Greatest Waves of the World.

The Cow XXL

la vaca xxl 1

This magnificent wave is located in the Autonomous Community of Cantabria, Spain. It is produced due to the quality of the sea beds in the area, which are truly special.

The sportsmen who manage to ride this spectacular wave share the magic of the moment; the sensations experienced thanks to the silence around them and the connection established between the surfer and the sea.

At one of the last Giant Cow by Oakley events, a large number of festival participants were looking to ride waves up to 8 meters high, and these values elevated the competition to a prominent and relevant position among the giant waves of the European continent.

In Spain, the surfing with giant waves, has its maximum expression and representation with waves like those of La Vaca and motivates the surfers to go to the Spanish coasts, especially to the Canary Islands, where the surf famara, manages to provoke an endless number of emotions, satisfactions and adrenaline in all those who visit the beaches of lanzarote.


Ola maverick 1

It is formed in the Californian coasts bathed by the Pacific and can be surfed from October to March.

This is truly a giant wave, it can reach 20 meters high and the Richter scale is used to measure it.

It starts breaking when it reaches heights between 3 and 4 meters but it is possible that it reaches heights between 10 and 12 meters.

For a long time, it could only be surfed by Jeff Clark, founder of the competition held around this natural giant; even some sportsmen like Mark Foo or Sion Milosky have succumbed to it.

These events have only increased Mavericks’ fame.


Nazaré’s waves are by far the largest waves in the world; they are gigantic bodies of water, which on very few occasions, if any, can be ridden by paddling.

To enter one of these giants you will need to tow a jet ski to achieve the necessary speed required to get down.

This process is not only applied to the Nazaré waves; in many places in the world with giant waves the support of the jet skis is used to achieve the conquest of the wave.

Guinness Record for the Biggest Wave in the Surfer’s World. The Nazaré Waves in Portugal

el impresionante espectaculo de las olas gigantes de nazare 1

During 2012, the Guinness World Records Organization, gave its confirmation regarding a wave with a height of 23.7 meters or 78 feet, being registered as the largest wave in the world to have been surfed.

This feat was achieved by Garrett McNamara, American surfer in the town of Nazaré, Portugal, during 2011.

This record was held until 2017, when Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Xoxa managed to ride a wave of 24.38 meters high, also in the beaches of Nazaré.

Garrett McNamara came back for his place and sent to the Organization a video where he is surfing a wave of 30 meters or 100 feet, a monument of wave; a giant of giants.

However, until the last information, Guinness World Record has not made the confirmation officially.

Measuring Nazaré’s Waves

All measurements in general are made using graphical methods, as it is impossible to think about the option of measuring a wave at the place where it is formed.

There are not yet exact methods to make such measurements and the accepted and most widely used scientific method is that of Willard Bascom Newell.

For the waves at Nazaré, the height of the waves is measured by taking the cliff closest to the beach as a reference.

What does the Nazaré Giant Wave produce?

The Nazaré Canyon is the most accentuated marine gorge of the entire European coast and one of the deepest in the world; it measures 230 kilometers and its depth is 5,000 meters.

Between this Canyon and the continental platform there are great differences in depth, therefore when a suitable swell is generated and reaches the coast of Nazaré, a phenomenon is produced that is encouraged by the Canyon, the continental platform and the coastal current. The result of this particular mix is the formation of the largest waves in the world.

Finally, we can tell you that if you are a surfer who wants to venture into the world of surfing and someday be able to surf a wave like the ones mentioned above, take it easy and insist on practicing a lot. The Famara Beach Surf Camps that we offer in our school will provide you with everything you need to learn all the theory and develop the best practice when it comes to venturing into this sport. Remember that you can visit our web surfcanarias and get information, and if you have any questions please contact us through our phone or mail.