The World's Seven Longest Waves
Feel like your local shifty beachbreak closeouts are holding your surfing back? Say hello to these leg burners...
Feel like your local shifty beachbreak closeouts are holding your surfing back? If only the ocean would just throw you some wall to let loose on… Well, here’s an idea. Take a surf trip to one of the world’s longest waves and finally unlock your true wave-riding potential!
Here are some options you may want to consider.
Located in northern Peru in an extremely dry region of the country, the left-hand point of Chicama may in many people’s eyes be the longest of the world’s longest surf rides. Peruvian surfer Cristobal de Col has entered the Guinness Book of Records for pulling up to 34 turns on one single wave at Chicama.
The lineup is made up of four defined breaks but these don’t actually connect up. The main one is called, wait for it, El Point. Running at 1.1km, it’s also the longest makeable section of the four. Considerably sheltered from the energy of the open ocean, wave-heights tend to stick around the shoulder to head-height range even when the swell is big. And with waves generally offering a pretty crumbly lip and soft shoulder with plenty of time for cutbacks, it’s an ideal beginner and intermediate wave.
Season/Swell: May to September. While Chicama consistently picks up some kind of surf if you’re looking to improve on your personal best for longest wave then you’ll want to wait for a big southern hemi swell to show up.
Also: With a strong current sweeping north, it generally makes more sense to keep surfing waves down the point at Chicama before walking back up to the take-off.
Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa
Arguably the world’s best right-hand pointbreak, the long walls of Jeffreys Bay lies forty-five miles southwest of Port Elizabeth on the eastern cape of South Africa. On rare occasions when J-Bay lines up perfectly, it’s possible to start up at what’s known as Boneyards and finish all the way down at The Point (over 1km).
But the 10 different sections need strong offshores and decent size swell to start connecting up. Supertubes, which itself breaks for about 300 metres or more, is regarded as the best part of the wave but obviously locals rule the joint and, as the name suggests, more than often will close out at Impossibles.
If you’ve ever watched the world’s best do battle at J-Bay, you’ll know even the Top 34 can at times struggle to fit turns in or keep pace with the racey right-hand walls. So yes you’ll most likely want to be drawing a high line too.
Season/Swell: May to mid-September, but July and August are the most dependable with weeks of back-to-back long-interval swell allowing various J-Bay sections to link up. The WCT event is usually scheduled mid-July. What you’ll need: A good wetsuit and a pintail of course. Watch out for: Curious great whites. Just ask Mick Fanning.
Also: Tom Curren is generally acknowledged as the master out there, followed by Parko and Fanning.
Skeleton Bay, Namibia
The longest sand-bottomed left in the known universe, Skeleton Bay first came to light in 2008 when the winner of Surfing Magazine’s ‘Google Earth Challenge’ got to pay the place a visit along with Cory Lopez, Peter Mendia, Hank Gaskell and Mitch Coleborn. Cory Lopez of course famously pulled into a freakishly long barrel ride few could get their heads round.
Located along Namibia’s isolated and hostile Skeleton Coast, it’s not exactly what you’d call a holiday destination. The bay lies smack bang in the middle of the Namibian desert with only the seal colonies to keep you entertained. It’s hot. It’s cold. It’s dusty. There’s literally nothing else to do but surf. Get the swell forecast wrong and you’ll be sorry. Get the swell forecast right and you’re tube riding skills better be up to scratch.
Producing some of the fastest and thickest sand-dredging tubes on the planet, it’s really an advanced/pro surfers deal only. Yes, it tubes from start to finish so no you won’t be putting any turns in. To top it all off, the wave is often influenced by super strong tidal rips, backwash and strong offshores, and if it’s going off, you’ll most likely be sharing the (admittedly rather large) line-up with car-fulls of pros.
Season/Swell: It’s a southern hemi deal so the season runs May to September, but subject to a limited swell window Skeleton Bay might only turn on a couple times a year, needing a big long-period groundswell from the Roaring Forties to wrap in at just the right angle.
How to get there: Your best bet is to get in touch with a guide to drive you in.
What you’ll need: A good wetsuit, lots of boards and, err, plenty of drinking water.
Watch out for: Strong rips, sharks, and super shallow sandbanks.
Also: Locals have implemented a no ‘4×4 back to the peak’ policy so make sure you’re cardio is up to scratch for the walk-back. Overall distances travelled during a long session can approach marathon territory.
The Superbank, Australia
Made up of Snapper Rocks, Greenmount, Little Marley and Kirra, the Gold Coast’s Superbank is theoretically more than capable of offering you the longest wave of your life on those rare days when it’s all connecting up. But to tell the truth we’re not entirely sure when the last time was. Of course, you’ll need to be able to negotiate what has to be the most crowded and hectic lineup there is on planet earth. Drop-ins, surf rage n’ all. But on the right cyclone swell, who knows what’s possible?
Season/Swell: Cyclone season officially runs Nov - April
Also: Plans for a $2 billion cruise ship terminal down at Kirra have been quashed for now but, over-developed as the Goldie already is, these projects often have an unsavoury habit of coming back to life so try to get down there sooner rather than later.
Pavones, Costa Rica
A well-kept secret for over 20 years, Pavones today is one of Costa Rica’s most prized pointbreak gems. Located along the lush tropical Pacific coast, it’s said to offer up to three minute long leg-burners as the left-hander wraps its way down a series cobblestone beaches. While not particularly hollow, the longest of super fun, rippable walls offer intermediates the perfect canvas on which to perfect their rail surfing game.
It’s said to be most fun at double overhead. The downside to Pavones is it’s a bit out the way and the only real surf break in this remote southern part of Costa Rica. Furthermore, it’s inconsistent. When there’s no southern hemi groundswell there’s no whiff of a wave so you want to be sure you have the swell forecast dialled. But get it right and you’ll probably not ever want to leave.
Season/Swell: Tucked away inside the Golfo Dulce the ideal swell angle for Pavones is from the south west and generally speaking the bigger the swell and the longer the interval the better.
Also: Read up on Pavones rich surf history and intrigue concerning Daniel Fowlie.
It may be named after one of the most irritating men in pop music, but as far as tidal bores go, Indonesia's 7 Ghosts (aka Bono) bore in Sumatra is the Led Zeppelin of riverine surfing.
Forget 400 kooks straight-handering frigid knee high mush in the Severn, or France's Mascaret near Bordeaux, this thing actually barrels, as evidenced by the Rip Curl Search team who lead the unveiling back in 2011. Sure, nobody in the world, ever, went to Indo hoping to surf brown water river bores as opposed to actual ocean swells braking over reefs, but in terms of length of ride, well this thing makes Desert Point look like Binging.
Season: Spring tides happen every two weeks, with the biggest tides of the year coming around the Equinoxes.
Raglan, New Zealand
Raglan, or Riglun, has been heralded as a burner of thighs since The Endless Summer featured her tapering walls in the 60's. Yet another left on the list of Planet Earth's lengthiest rides, and perhaps further evidence that the Almighty Jah Jah is in fact, a goofy. Alternatively, it could be down the fact that the Southern Hemisphere's big booming swells generally come west of due south, thus catching the western sides of landmasses better, producing lefts. Whatever. As lefthanders go, you'd do well to find a more beautiful setting than Raglan, or indeed, a more beautiful country than New Zealand. In terms of approval rating, in terms of anecdotal evidence, well, have you ever met anyone that didn't enjoy their trip to NZ?