Surfing Teahupoo, Tahiti

Known as the ‘world's heaviest wave,’ the waves at Teahupoo (pronounced cho-poo) have produced a well-trodden path to a destination still hidden from mainstream surfers.

Teahupoo is often bigger than anywhere else as a result of facing directly into the prevailing south-west groundswell.

Breaking 700m out to sea, ‘Chopes,’ as the break is affectionately known, sits off a 100m drop-off just 50m away from a half-moon-shaped reef. The wave is located an hour’s drive from Papeete.

The wave Intense. Regardless of size, the wave here pretty much breaks in the same place. The line-up is around 70m and there are only two legitimate take-off spots.

Both require lots of confidence and speed to burn. The left-to-right peeling reef-break produces deep, clean barrels accessible only through a vertical take-off.

Once you’re standing upright, all you need to do is survive being spat out of the tube 50m later onto the teeth of the razor sharp reef, which sits high and dry directly in front of the wave.

For experts in riding left-hand barrels, it's a dream wave – even if it’s short a barrel and one turn is pretty much maximum capacity.

Best tide –  All tides

Best swell direction – South to south-west

Best wave size –  1m to 2.4m

Best wind – North to east

Ability level – Expert to pro

Ride length – 50m to 100m

Bottom – Live coral

Best board – Most pros stick with a 2m or 3m board

Best season – May to October

Access – A 20-minute paddle out to the reef or a two-minute boat ride

Crowd factor – Pretty light, because of the sheer gnarliness, but can be crowded during the annual Billabong Pro in May

Local vibe – Cool

Hazards – Shallow live reef, ferocious wave that has claimed lives in the past, and the occasional sighting of tiger sharks

Facilities – No public facilities

Accommodation – From luxurious over-water bungalows and 5-star hotels around Papeete to cheap and cheerful ‘fare’ guesthouses close to the beach

Aprés surf – After surviving the wave, just walking around feels like a party. Forget discos or clubs unless you head back to Papeete, otherwise just chin-wag with the friendly locals and other surfers on the beach. The local French cuisine is delicious.

Other activities – Play golf at Tahiti’s spectacular American-designed championship golf course, take an island adventure tour or a helicopter excursion, or go horseback riding, play tennis, go snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing or deep sea fishing

Laurels – Venue of the ASP World Tour event

Nearest airport – Faa Airport, Papeete, Tahiti

Getting there –  Rent a car and have a boatman lined up. Le Truck (local bus) can take you anywhere on the island for a dollar or two.

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Latest update: Surfing Teahupoo, Tahiti: 27 April, 2022