beaches from hell the 10 most dangerous waves in the world
Planning on taking your surfing to the 'next level' this year. In the world of 2012 there are far worse things than sharks and jellyfish to worry about. Pirates, flesh eating virus, radioactive pollution and landmines can all conspire to ruin your day in the surf. Lets look at the 10 most dangerous waves in the world today, what makes them killers and what you need to be able to do to hold our own in the lineup.
LOCATION: Andaman Islands, India
DANGER: Hostile Natives
Localism is one thing but the natives of North Sentinel Island in the Andaman's would even put a bra boy to shame. Just north of Sumatra, the Andaman's receive a regular spray of swell onto a stunning array of reef passes and points but there is a catch. The natives of North Sentinel Island are one of the last untouched tribes of the world and haven't really taken that well to strangers in the past. Indian authorities have attempted to gain the trust of the Sentinelese people in the past by offering gifts of pots and tethered pigs on the beach for them; someone tried this in 1974 but was shot through the thigh with an arrow. The entire expedition was then repulsed by a hail of arrows. In 1996 several poachers arrived on the island and were all killed by the natives. As recently as 2006, two Indian fishermen strayed within arrow range of the coast and were killed. A helicopter attempted to recover their bodies but was kept at bay with a volley of arrow fire; to this day the bodies of the fishermen have not been recovered. As such, North Sentinel Island remains one of the last places on Earth that you can expect to be attacked and probably killed by natives if you happen to be shipwrecked there. If you surf Bengali and your legrope breaks...probably not wise to swim to far inshore to retrieve it.
LOCATION: Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard Island
DANGER: Extreme Cold
Perhaps the true endgame of extreme surfing lies on the reefs and points surrounding Antarctica, the Southern Ocean however is a cruel mistress indeed. This entire stretch of open ocean is whipped by the Furious 50's from west to east. The swell systems, which power the Pacific, Indian and south, Atlantic Oceans are all born here. Heard Island is a rare volcanic rock ideally placed to receive full force from these emerging swell systems.
The wave at ANZAC Cove was named by Adam Waldie during a visit there with the Australian Navy in the 1990's. Few have landed there since and none have surfed it. There are small scientific bases at Atlas Cove and Spit Bay to the north of the island which are currently abandoned but may provide shelter in an emergency. The wind chill factor from the ever present westerly winds will restrict you to surfing in the middle of the southern Hemisphere summer only (Dec-Feb) in full dry suit.
The wave itself is a heavy left hander that offers excellent protection from the prevailing westerly winds and handles any size the Southern Ocean can throw at it. On rare calm days, this break could fool you into thinking it is a reverse version of Noosa - until you entered the water that is. More commonly, the break is very woolly on takeoff due to extreme windage, smoothing out as the wave ratchets around the corner into the deep safety of the cove itself.
Be sure to limit your time in the water here to prevent the onset of deep hypothermia. Ensure you factor in the time it will take to leave the water and reach shelter in your calculations. Plan this trip carefully, you loose it here...it's over.
LOCATION: Southern Philippines
DANGER: Terrorist Kidnapping / Pirates
Cloud 9 on the island of Siargao is internationally renowned as a world class break. It is temping to look at a chart of The Philippines and view the dozen other island set ups identical to Cloud 9 and imagine what lays a little further down the coast... hold that thought though. Proceeding any further south into Mindanao could be the last thing you do. This region is widely believed to be one of the most aggressive terrorist training areas on earth. The Abu Sayyaf group and the enticingly titled MILF Separatist Group (Moro Islamic Liberation front) are active in this area and fund their activities primarily through the kidnapping of tourists. Of course if you manage to make it all the way down south you only have to worry about the pirates. Don't let the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise fool you either. There is no romping adventure that results in you falling in love with some scallywag here. Typically vessels are stripped, crews robbed and either murdered or held for ransom. Regrettably, the southern Mindanao Islands will be off the surfer's menu for some time to come...except for Chuck Norris of course.
LOCATION: Western Sahara, West Africa
DANGER: Local Warlord Skirmishes
The set of Mad Max III never really disappeared, it just packed up and moved to Western Sahara. Today in this troubled land that nobody owns your list of dangers includes being caught up in a local battle for water, petrol or tribal women - basically all of the standard trade items of Bartertown circa 2019.
'The Point' has got to be one the most isolated and least surfed quality point breaks on the planet. It's a long powerful right hander wrapping around this sandy headland and breaking over a patchy sand and rock sea bed. To surf this spot your going to have to come well prepared for the isolated and harsh desert environment but you will be rewarded with long punchy rides and certainly no drop ins! There are several more similar spots along this coastline for the most committed surf explorers. Don't pay your guide until he gets you to the other side.
LOCATION: Northern Territory, Australia
DANGER: Saltwater Crocodiles
A true adventure and not for the faint of heart. Take a boat and ply the west coast south of Darwin. During the cyclone season or the peak of the major well season it is common for systems to bend around the corner here and deposit favourable NE energy along the points and bars. Shattered Strand works so well as it is essentially a sand / rock island bordered by deep Indian Ocean water. The energy arrives fresh from the west having peeled away from the usual Antarctic to Bali express route.
Tiger sharks and crocodiles are some of the nasties that are a reality in this part of the world. Having serious backup in the form of a designated spotter and shooter on the beach is a must.
LOCATION: Namibia, West Africa
A top 10 danger list of surfing just wouldn't be complete without a shark tale, so gather round me hearties with a jug of mead whilst I rests up me stump and tells ye one.
Cape Cross has been one of the finest surfing discoveries made anywhere in the world. Until recently known only to a few fishermen, it has gained the attention of many curious google map seekers marvelling at the seemingly endless left hand point break that wraps from a rocky point all the way into the tranquility of a peaceful sandy beach..that's pretty much where the dreaming stops. Cape Cross is home to a fantastic wave but also plays host to a colony of over 100,000 Cape Seals - making it one of the largest seal colonies in the world. Cape Seals are the number one menu item of your typical Great White Shark. Selective sealing still occurs in the Cape Cross area and the resulting dumping of blood and carcass in the water does not do wonders for deterring the great whites from their regular attendance on the point. Some local surfers believe that the sharks are just too well fed on the seal population to bother with a surfer and manage to ignore the threat...yeah, you just keep telling yourself that as you paddle out.
LOCATION: Angola, West Africa
Angola has only recently emerged from over 30 years of bitter civil war, a sad legacy of this war has been the indiscriminate use of landmines. The HALO Trust has been doing their best to clear the countryside of these unseen killers but today they advise that there are over 778 confirmed minefields still requiring clearance. One look at a map of Angola is enough to get any surfer excited, an endless array of right hand point breaks that stretch south to Namibia and north to the nightmare of The Congo. Only 125km of coastline has been accessed to surfers due to the probability of landmines and many of those achingly beautiful points are sadly out of bounds. If you try to surf south of Cabo Ledo you are taking your life into your own hands. Many of the farmers on the coast have their goat herd's walk in front of them to check for landmines, but it's hardly a comfort. There are some fantastic looking points to the south towards the Skeleton Coast on the Namibia border that have never been surfed, beaches that have never been walked on. The sand dunes along the coast stretch inland for over 100kilometres. Shipwrecked Europeans in the 1600’s walked inland from some of these beaches and were never seen again. It all begs the question, is this one of surfing’s last frontiers?
LOCATION: Vladivostok, Russian Far East
DANGER: Radiation Poisoning
Schitovaya Bukhta (Shield Bay) lies just to the east of Vladivostok and represents the tip of surf discovery along the Eastern Pacific shores of Russia. The wave itself is a superior beachbreak, very dependent on SW swell within the Sea of Japan. Typhoon season is your best bet for quality swell in the area (Dec-Feb). At the time of writing this, the local surf community in the area has advised Surfing Atlas that special permits may soon be required to surf in this area due to the close proximity of several restricted military areas. Permits can be the least of your problems however. The port of Vladivostok is home to the Russian Pacific Fleet. Times have been tough recently and the fleet has been forced to retire several nuclear submarines. These submarines now lie in a semi sunken state of disrepair in the port leaking radioactive waste and isotopes into the bay and surrounding beaches. In 2002 the problem was so bad that a sick whale died in the port of Vladivostok after spending a few months in the harbour...the carcass was declared a nuclear waste site unto itself. Make sure you have already had your children before you go surfing.
LOCATION: Bouvet Island, South Atlantic
DANGER: Extreme Remoteness
Bouvet Island is one of the most inhospitable islands in the world. The surfing season here is really dictated by the slight improvement in temperatures experienced during the Southern Hemisphere summer (Dec-Feb). There is swell all year round here, usually far too much of it. Akil'zon is a left hand point on the northern face of the island that offers excellent protection from the caning westerly winds. The bulk of swell energy peels around the northern point (Cape Valdivia) and offers long hollow left handers that taper off into dark, near freezing water. It's incorrect to refer to Bouvet Island as being simply 'remote' for in fact Bouvet Island is actually the most remote island in the world. If you need help from here your nearest options are Antarctica 1750 kilometres to the south or Cape Town 2500 kilometres to the North East. Currently uninhabited, a research station built by the Norwegians in 1994 later blew out to sea. A lifeboat was found here in 1964 but the passengers were never found. If this isn't the bleeding edge of surf exploration then what is?
LOCATION: Bay of Bengal, India
Not a lot of Southern Ocean swell manages to arrive this far north of the Indian Ocean, so what you can expect is usually fairly small but the superior period often makes up for it. Wheeler Island is one of a collection of high quality sand points and cays that have formed at the headwaters of the mighty Brahmani River. Sadly, the entire coastal region here has been heavily polluted from run off stemming from the inland town of Sukinda. The Sukinda Valley processes around 97% of the countries Chromium ore deposits. Sukinda is widely regarded as one of the top 10 most polluted places in the world. A by-product of the chromium treatment process is the production of hexavalent chromium. This is the same product that was affecting the townships Erin Brokovich fought to save in the USA. The marshes and beaches around wheeler Island have managed to concentrate the levels of this chemical to anywhere up to 20 times the recommended dosage. Nasty side effects of poisoning include infertility, birth defects and tumorous cancer. So until someone develops a Level 4 Chem Wetsuit, it's a matter of look and don't surf.
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