If you've ever surfed, you've probably heard the name Teahupoo thrown around. You also probably know that it has received the title of the "deadliest wave in the world."
However, there may be a few things you don't know about the incredible Teahupoo, which is what we're here to explore today.
Come with us as we explore the wave that makes even the most fearless of big wave surfers shake at the knees.
The Story of The Teahupoo Wave
Teahupoo, otherwise known as the "End of the Road," became famous back in 1998 when some of the best surfers in the world took on these breathtaking waves during the Gotcha Tahiti Pro.
However, long before that, other riders had experienced the sheer power of surfing's heaviest wave.
The most famous person to paddle out and ride it was Thierry Vernaudon, who took on Teahupoo back 1985 before it became well known. Many local buddies support his claims.
Bodyboarders Ben Severson and Mike Stewart would become the very first foreigners to take on this South Pacific break.
This surf break was given the affectionate nickname "Chopes,' grabbing the attention of riders around the globe.
For those looking to head out to the monster wave of the South Pacific, there are three main spots to take off. If you want a deep take-off with long barrels, head out to the south peak. It is one of the most challenging surf spots out there. For barrels that are a bit more square, the southwest peak is the place to go. If you're warming up, stick to the west end of the break, as it is closer to the channel and will provide you with more forgiving rides.
We also recommend picking a head-high day if you're looking to surf Teahupoo for the first time. It will take some time to get used to the fast, hollow drop. While Teahupoo can give you a ride you will never forget, it can also kill you, which is why you must be careful. A typical Teahupoo ride is about 75-100 yards, which is pretty short compared to most waves in the "world-class" realm.
When the SSW swell and NE/ESE wind meet, you can expect XXL surfing. It's best to paddle out in the early morning for the best surfing conditions.
The Millennium Wave
While lives have been taken by this incredible wave, it has become the focus of some of the sport's biggest champions. Back on August 17, 2000, big wave surfer, Laird Hamilton took on one of the thickest and meanest waves in Teahupoo's history. The ferocious giant that he rode is now referred to as the "Millennium Wave".
Laird Hamilton would then go on to shoot "Point Break 2" at Teahupoo along with a couple of other surf champions, such as Bruce Irons, Billy Kemper, and Albee Layer.
Where Is Teahupoo?
Teahupoo is located at the Southwestern tip of Tahiti in modern French Polynesia. It comes around when the winter storms rise. You'll see it break off about 500 yards offshore in a deep-to-shallow coral pass. Just 50 yards beyond the reef, the sea drops more than 300 feet in depth.
How to Pronounce Teahupoo
The proper Tahitian way to pronounce the name of this wave is:
Where Is Teahupoo on a Map?
You'll find Teahupoo on the southwestern coast of Tahiti. In fact, Teahupoo is actually a Tahitian village.
How shallow is Teahupoo?
One of the reasons Teahupoo is the deadliest wave in the world is because the reef is so shallow.
In many places, the reef is only 20 inches beneath the surface of the water, which is one of the reasons that the wave breaks in such a hollow fashion.
The mixture of heavy waves and shallow reef make this Tahitian channel one of the most dangerous spots to surf and hang out.
What kind of Wave is Teahupoo?
Teahupoo is a tropical reef break. It can be described as a large, hollow, left-hander that roars atop the Tahiti ocean in a blue, cylindrical shape.
How do you Hold Your Breath at Teahupoo?
If you wipe out at Teahupoo, expect to get held down for at least two waves. It is very important to practice breathing techniques ahead of time. We recommend checking out Mark Visser's breathing surf tips to learn more.
How Many People Have Died at Teahupoo?
There have been five recorded deaths at Teahupoo since 2000. Many surfers have had very close calls with death as well, including experienced female surfer Keala Kennelly, who was seriously wounded after the wave smashed her against the reef causing a massive wound on her scalp.
What Makes Teahupoo So Special?
Teahupoo is one of the most powerful waves in the world, often reaching up to 2-3 meters. When a good swell comes around, you can expect the wave to get up to 7 meters. However, this Tahiti gem isn't known for its height, but rather how thick and heavy its lip is.
To see more big wave spots, check out our biggest waves in the world and biggest waves ever surfed articles.