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As winter rolls in, bringing large storms and sea swells, surf season is kicking into gear. While many people think the idea of sliding down a 50-foot wave is insane, there is an elite world of big wave surfers who live for the thrill of this extreme ride.

This week, we’re giving away 5 copies of The Wave by New York Times bestselling author Susan Casey. The Wave chronicles these monster waves and the daredevils who ride them. Casey’s gripping tales of liquid mountains, wild rides, wipeouts, and storm surges probably won’t make you want to grab a board and take to the seas when the water gets rough, but you just might get the itch to check out the action from a safe spot on shore.

If you’re heading to one of these destinations this winter, keep an eye on the weather, and if you’re lucky you might catch some world-class big wave surfing.


For a chance to see big wave surfing’s number one name, Laird Hamilton, in action head to the North Shore of Maui, where you’ll find a famous break named Peahi, or “Jaws.” When the conditions are right, this wave comes alive, churning up a challenging wall of water over 60 feet high. Nearby, Hookipa Beach is another good spot to watch large surf breaks. Read more about surfing on Maui.

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Oahu’s North Shore is a surfer’s paradise—world-class surf spots pepper the coast, and there are plenty of places to sit and watch the action from shore. When the winter swells roll in, Waimea Bay is the place to be for surfers looking to ride a 25-foot (or much larger) wave. In December 2009 waves over 50 feet high pounded the beach, drawing swarms of spectators to watch the pros compete for the best ride. Read more about surfing on Oahu.

Half Moon Bay, California
While its size (the wave can reach heights of 80 feet) is frightening enough, surfers at Mavericks, a break just north of Half Moon Bay, also have to factor in freezing water, razor sharp rocks, and sharks. Nonetheless, surfers brave these risks to ride the wave, though spectators can stay dry (and safe from sharks) on the cliffs overlooking the water.

It might not conjure up the same “hang-loose” surfer vibe as Hawaii and California, but Tahiti holds its own in the big wave surfing world thanks to the powerful Teahupoo, a massive wave that breaks over a shallow reef near Pape’ete. Read more about surfing in Tahiti.

How to Enter

To enter our sweepstakes, tell us which of the above destinations you’d most like to visit for ultimate wave watching. Tweet your story to @fodorstravel #sweeps or leave a comment below for your chance to win. Winners will be announced on Monday October 25.

The Rules

  • Offer applies to U.S. residents 18 years or older only
  • One copy of The Wave will be awarded to each of five randomly-selected participants
  • Offer expires at 11:59 PM EST on Sunday October 24
  • Limit one entry per person
  • Official rules
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