This list starts with Shawn Dollar’s 2012 record of 61 feet and ends with Benjamin Sanchez’s estimated 108-foot record in 2014. No matter if you’re a surfer or not, the feats of athleticism on this list are truly impressive. They might even inspire you to get out and try surfing for yourself.

Number 10: Shawn Dollar

Height: 61 feet

Location and date: Cortes Bank (December 21, 2012)

Shawn Dollar surfed a wave of heigh 61 feet

This managed to set the Guinness world record for the largest wave surfed using the “paddle in” method. Shawn Dollar managed to snag the killer wave which broke almost a hundred miles off the coast of California. It was 61 feet. To put that into perspective that is roughly the length of a bowling lane.

Number 9: Aaron Gold

Height: 63 feet

Location and date: Maui, Hawaii (January 15, 2016)

Aaron Gold, at the time, surfing the largest wave ever of 63 feet

For 4 years Dollar managed to hold onto his record before it was narrowly beaten by Hawaiin surfing legend, Aaron Gold. He traversed the gargantuan wave known as “Jaws” off the coast of his homeland. 63 feet is roughly the length of a cricket pitch.


Number 8: Mike Parsons

Height: 66 feet

Location and date: Cortes Bank (2001)

Mike Parsons surfed an incredibly large wave measuring 66 feet

This was a big one! However, some would argue that it was overshadowed by Dollar’s ride due to the fact that Parsons was towed out. The towing vs paddling debate will rage on. Most pro surfers use whichever method they think is best at the time. For comparison, 66 feet is roughly the length of a Brachiosaurus!

Number 7: Carlos Burle

Height: 68 feet

Location and date: Mavericks near Half Moon Bay (2001)

Carlos Burle surfed some of the largest waves found worldwide

2001 was a great year for waves and Carlos Burle won the Billabong XXL Big Wave Award for taking on this beast. Put into context 68 feet is roughly the height of the carvings at Mount Rushmore. Imagine surfing George Washington’s head!

Number 6: Mike Parsons

Height: 77 feet

Location and date: Cortes Bank (2008)

Mike Parsons surfed a 77 feet wave making it, at the time, a new world record

7 years after riding his mammoth wave Mike Parsons broke the 70-foot mark and with it set a new world record for highest wave surfed from a tow. 77 feet is like riding Turner falls, the massive Oklahoma waterfall.

Number 5: Garrett McNamara

Height: 78 feet

Location and date: Nazaré, Portugal (2011)

Garrett McNamara managed to surf an extrodinary 78 feet wave in Portugal

As you will see, Nazaré, Portugal is the place to go if you want to try and break records, which is just what McNamara did in 2011 when he beat Mike Parsons record by a single foot. That’s the length of a bowling pin.

Number 4: Rodrigo Koxa

Height: 80 feet

Location and date: Nazaré, Portugal (2017)

Rodrigo Koxa reached 80 feet by surfing a wave in Portugal

As recently as 2017 the Brazilian added another 2 feet to the world record. Although he is not number one on this list he still holds the record as Guinness has not been able to verify any of the top three. That’s not to scoff at 80 feet tall. After all, that is the length of a Blue Whale, the largest animal ever to have ever lived on the planet.

Number 3: Garrett McNamara

Height: 100 feet (estimated)

Location and date: Nazaré, Portugal (2013)

Garrett McNamara’s second record breaking wave, which reached an incredible 100 feet

Had it have been confirmed this would have absolutely smashed the world record. It is a well-known fact that Nazare and in particular to Praia do Norte can produce 100 foot+ rideable waves it just so happens that none of them have been verified yet. To put that into context, that is as tall as the length of the reclining Buddha statue in India.

Number 2: Carlos Burle

Height: 100 feet (estimated)

Location and date: Nazaré, Portugal (2013)

Carlos Burle surfed an incrediblr 100+ foot wave, which is yet to be verified

Once again 2013 was a great year for the swell. Burle himself set about trying to nab the record for the tallest wave on the Portuguese coast. Leaving behind California for the infamous area he managed to snag a hundred-footer during an autumnal storm. Unfortunately, he is still waiting to get it verified so no record for him. However, for added context, 100 feet is roughly the length of a Boeing 737 aircraft.

Number 1: Benjamin Sanchis

Height: 108 feet (estimated)

Location and date: Nazaré, Portugal (2014)

Benjamin Sanchis rode a 108 feet wave (estimated), although did fall off into it

The Frenchman was witnessed and verified by many sources that witnessed his feet from atop the fort on the cliffs at Nazaré. So why is he not sitting proudly in the record books? Unfortunately despite his magnificent efforts, he did not ride the wave to completion. It also meant he missed out on the XXL Big Wave Award.



FAQs

What is the best route for surfing?

If a beach has good surf chances are it will offer lessons for less experienced surfers. If you want to practice then a balance board is good practice and also is a lot of fun.

How do they measure waves?

In general, waves are measured from the surface of the water up to the crest of the wave. However, this is not an exact science when it comes to the world of surfing, partially because waves are not a uniform height and also a surfer needs to make the most of the wave that they are given.

Do surfers ever get eaten by sharks?

Around 10 people die from shark attacks every year. That is ten out of the 7 billion people on the planet. However, it is worth mentioning that of all the shark attacks recorded more than fifty percent of them are against surfers.