One of the best things about ocean surfing is that you’ll never know what you’re going to get. It's unpredictable and sometimes too fast or too big for you. Nevertheless, other waves are so wacky and weird that they will level up your excitement in a different way.
From massive wipeouts underwater to being thrown in the air like a ball, waves have their own way of treating their guests. Pipeline, Jaws, Teahupoo, and other big surfing places remain in the spotlight. However, there are other unusual and weird places in the world that surfers seek in hopes of experiencing an adventurous surfing trip. They travel far and wide across the globe to experience these crazy moments.
These places hidden from the world offer waves that will make you go all wild and rogue. No more surfing on predictions; it's all about spontaneous judgment.
Imagine surfing the freezing glacier waves or riding a long man-made wave pool. It's all about enjoying that unique experience.
In this post, you'll find some of the weirdest waves ever surfed and places where waves will make you dance to their own rhythm.
1. River Surfing in Eisbach, Germany
Even if you don’t live near Pipeline, Hawaii, or California Mavericks – no worries. There is always a good spot nearby. You just gotta look a little deeper.
Surfing waves, surrounded by forest and peaceful ambiance, is an experience like no other. It’s one of the most amazing forms of surfing, known as River surfing. It involves catching a hydraulic jump wave while facing upstream, making it look like riding fast over still water.
One of the coolest hotspots for river surfing is Munich, Germany. River surfing began during the 70s era and soon became a worldwide style of surfing. Located in the heart of the city, the Bavarian capital witnesses almost 100 surfers catching the Eisbach waves.
The man-made river has seen some of the biggest names, like Jack Johnson, hitting on Eisbach waves.
The place offers challenging waves – not so friendly for beginners, yet you can still watch pro surfers in action. It’s not hard to find quality waves year-round, but don't forget your 7mm wetsuits, as it can get freezing in winter.
2. Tanker Waves in Houston, Texas
Another wacky wave on the list is the tanker wave. Only a surfer can understand the true joy when a tanker or ferry passes nearby. Surfers wait patiently to catch that perfect moment and ride the craziest wave of their life.
If the ship is big and heavy, you’re gonna enjoy some waist-high waves. You can either take a jetski or paddle to the spot where you know the ship will pass.
In Galveston, Texas, surfers ride three-mile waves created by passing oil tankers in the Houston Ship Channel. Captain James Fulbright’s Tanker Surf Charter has offered this unique experience since 2009.
Unlike regular waves, these are formed by massive ship displacement. It’s also considered the longest wave in North America that may offer a ride up to 20 minutes.
The place is kept exclusive to avoid overcrowding. They prioritize safety and pick up surfers by boat after riding.
3. Glacier Waves in Beluga Point, Alaska
Glacier waves are one of the gnarliest waves to surf. Seriously, watching a big chunk of ice melt in front of you…looks really scary. Even though it’s a sign of global warming, surfers seek out the right moment to experience the thrill.
Garrett McNamara, the iconic big wave rider with eight Guinness world records, was part of a special group that surfed waves generated by a 300-foot glacier in Alaska. Depending on the size of the ice chunk and the angle of impact, the waves here can reach an impressive height of over 20-30 ft.
You won’t find these kinds of treacherous waves everywhere. But if you're up for the challenge, then Beluga Point in Alaska is an ideal spot for you to enjoy glacier surfing.
4. Tidal Bore Waves in Silver Dragon, China
A tidal bore is when the leading tide sends a wave zooming up the river or a narrow bay, completely messing with the usual flow. It’s nature acting all rebellious.
You can hear the loud roars as it bumps into everything on its way. Tidal bores are dangerous and may turn destructive, but that doesn't stop surfers from enjoying an awesome ride.
There are few places in the world where you’ll find these loud tidal bores, like Mexico’s Colorado River or Canada’s Petitcodiac River, but one place that has a notorious reputation among surfers is China’s Silver Dragon.
In ideal conditions, Silver Dragon may go as high as 30 feet, speeding at 25 mph. It’s considered the tallest of all its kind, offering an hour-long ride.
Over the years, Silver Dragon has been a hotspot for surfers seeking the weirdest waves. Many top surfers have taken on this beast, aiming to conquer its wild waves.
5. Kelly Slater’s Wave Pool, California
Surfing isn't limited to oceans anymore. With man-made pools, there’s no more waiting or depending on predictions. Ingenious engineers, teamed up with skilled surfers, have successfully replicated ocean-like waves for an amazing and predictable experience.
Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch, a man-made wave paradise in Lemoore, California, is revolutionizing surfing in 100 miles from the ocean. Founded by 11-time champion Kelly Slater, the 20-acre site features a high-tech wave pool with four profiles for surfers of all levels.
The $30 million investment in the pool, shaped by hydrofoils, offers consistent waves up to 20 mph and 8 feet high.
Session costs range from $6000 to $15,000, providing a personalized wave experience. You can also enjoy skateboarding, biking, and lakeside cabin amenities.
6. Lake Tahoe, California
Surfing in lakes is not the same as surfing in the ocean. Surfers have limited opportunities to ride good-quality waves. Also, it’s a bit more of a hustle with waves running their own marathon.
Lake surfers catch the action right in the storm, unlike ocean surfers riding swells that take days to hit the shore.
The good part is you don’t have to worry about sharks or jellyfish bites. You can enjoy surfing in pure freshwater without getting covered in salt.
One of the coolest spots for lake surfing is Lake Tahoe. The mountainous landscapes and storms can generate winds exceeding 100mph.
Despite the cold waters and fierce winds reaching 40 mph at lake level, Lake Tahoe is an awesome place for surfing and other water-related sports. You can also enjoy hiking, motorcycling, and gambling since it spans both Nevada and California.
7. Backwash Wave, Wyalup in Rocky Point, Western Australia
You can experience a backwash wave in coastal areas where waves break along the shoreline and then flow back towards the ocean. Waves touching the shore carry their own energy.
That way, they can be constructive or destructive and can increase or decrease the size of the beach by bringing in more sand or taking a bit away. Destructive waves tend to have a powerful backwash.
One of the favorite surfing spots to experience backwash water is Australia's Wyalup-Rocky Point. The waves crash by some gnarly rocks and create high-energy waves that can throw surfers high up in the air (though surfers really enjoy that!)
Check out what surfing looks like at Wyalup-Rocky Point.
Surfing is not just about the oceans and catching the biggest wave in the world – it’s about experiencing the fun the sport has to offer. Whether conquering river challenges, riding amazing tanker waves, facing the risk of glacier surfing, or taming tidal bores, each wave offers a distinctive thrill.
For those who need a break from the ordinary, they can explore these places where unusual and weird waves dominate the water.
It’s all about feeling the real stoke!
Written by James Davis
I'm a true California local, and I've spent my life riding the waves along our stunning coastline. Surfing has always been my greatest love, and in my writing, I try to capture its genuine essence. My words aim to transport you into the heart of the surf culture, where the ocean and surfers come together in perfect harmony.
While there are several wave fields still undiscovered, Maine can still offer some of the best conditions for visiting tourists to catch that perfect wave. In this article, we’ll take a look at why you might want to visit Maine, the best times to surf, and the best places to check out on your next […]
Surf camps have a certain appeal. They’re ideal places to learn surfing, especially for solo travelers who want to meet people and socialize in a friendly environment. However, surf camps are springing up in every nook and cranny. You’ll find plenty with an ocean at almost every corner of the planet. The increased numbers make […]
If you’re a fan of the outdoors in general and dislike crowds, Alaska might be your go-to place to surf. But with the various hazards and difficulties getting there, it can be a somewhat tedious trip. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn all about the wonders and potential dangers of surfing in Alaska. With its […]
Surfing is a popular sport, especially with many health fanatics who consider it a great way to keep in shape. If you’re a beginner and want to hone this skill, you might consider joining a surf camp. But, is it worth it? This article will take a deep dive into the essentials of surfing camps […]
If you’re living along the East Coast, it could be a bit difficult to travel across the country to Hawaii or California for that perfect surfing spot. Georgia might not be your first choice when it comes to surfing, but with the warmer waters, beautiful surrounding islands, and stunning wildlife, there are quite a few […]
Waves, especially ocean waves, are often so common that we never usually think about where they come from or how they’re formed. In this article, you’ll be diving into the specifics of the formation of waves, including the various types of waves and where you may find them. Depending on the type of wave, there […]
Watching surfers riding huge waves certainly inspires us to learn the sport as quickly as possible to impress others, just as we were fascinated. It’s a sport like no other, and the best part is that it gives us a chance to master the ocean, which scares even the best of us. However, remember that […]
With all the sports out there, sandboarding can easily be considered one of the most unique and exciting ones there is to offer. It might be thought that this sport is relatively new, but in reality, it has been around for centuries and is thought to have been started by the Egyptians. Today, it has […]
When out in the water, it’s often hard to figure out what your next tactic should be. Even expert surfers like Nathan Florence had to try and test various methods to see which one worked out best for them. One particularly problematic dilemma for those starting out surfing is whether they should duck dive a […]