Play & Explore: Bay Area, CA

Expertise Provided By: Susan Casey

Best Waves — Mavericks

In her electrifying 2010 book, The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean, journalist Susan Casey traveled with the elite surfers who roam the globe in search of death-defying waves. But that’s not all—for anyone concerned about global warming, Casey offers an ominous report on the weather changes that are increasing the number and intensity of giant waves, and the dangers they pose to man. Think massive underwater earthquakes and devastating tsunamis.

Mavericks, located off Half Moon Bay 30 miles south of San Francisco, is one of the hot spots—more accurately cold spots—for giant waves.

“If, as the surfers claimed, every big wave has a distinct personality, Mavericks was an assassin,” writes Casey. “While other waves glimmer in the tropical sun, Mavericks seethes above a black chasm… Around here the water temperatures hover in the low fifties, making everything harder—literally. Cold water has a higher viscosity. It is thicker, like liquid pavement, compounding the brutality of a fall. Frigid temperatures also make it tougher for surfers to relax, to paddle, to hold their breath underwater, to keep their senses from numbing over in general.”

The fact that Mavericks is located in the Red Triangle, an area that has the highest incidence of Great White shark attacks in the world, is considered a minor peril next to the threat of the giant waves.

Black Box Warning

Unless you are one of the world’s elite surfers—and even if you are—you risk your life and limbs if you choose to surf Mavericks. ExpertOpinions strongly advises you not to do it—in fact, we’re begging you not to—especially when the winter waves peak and surfers from around the world descend on Half Moon Bay for an annual organized competition.

  • Meta