You don’t have to go all the way to the Hawaiian Islands or Australia to find dizzying waves to ride on your surfboard, just stay in Europe. That’s where the surfers’ mecca is located.
The UNDERWATER CANYON that creates WAVES as HIGH as SKYSCRAPERS
# Since 2011 Nazaré is the winter mecca of extreme surfers: its record wave is 35 meters high
When you think about surfing and crazy waves to ride, first destination that come to your mind is the Hawaii, or maybe Australia. In reality, you might not not that there’s a small Portuguese town that has risen to the top of the preferences of surfers–especially between November and March–to practice this extreme sport. The name of this place is Nazaré. This town was once only a renowned summer resort destination with immense beaches, fantastic views and memorable sunsets overlooking the ocean then, since 2011 it became a winter hotspot.
It is in that year that Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara tamed a 23.77mt-high wave in Praia do Norte, setting a world record and turning Nazaré into the El Dorado for all surfers. In 2013 and then in 2018 the Portuguese surfer Hugo Vau beaten McNamara’s record riding “Big Mama”, a wave of about 35mt-high.
# Exaggerated waves result from Europe’s largest underwater canyon
The reason why Nazaré has the highest waves in the world should be sought underwater: here lies the largest underwater canyon in Europe (Nazaré Canyon), which is off shore at the coast of this Portuguese town. The canyon runs for 230 km and descends to a depth of 5 km. It works as a catapult for ocean currents, working as an underwater “step” that creates an incredible jump in the level of the bottom, from a few tens to a few hundred meters.
Thanks to a funnel effect, the winter winds coming from the Atlantic, accelerate instead of slowing down when they approach the lower waters of the continental shelf and push water against this “underwater obstacle” which is the canyon. The waters then, splashing upwards, generate world-record waves.
(Original article by Fabio Marcomin)