How Many Surfers Have Died At Nazaré, Portugal?

The towering waves that crash onto Portugal’s Praia do Norte beach in Nazaré have made it world famous among big wave surfers. But navigating waves that can reach over 100 feet tall comes with intense risks.

So how many surfers have perilously wiped out and died while surfing the gigantic waves of Nazaré?

A Brief History of Big Wave Surfing at Nazaré

Located on the coast of Portugal, Nazaré has quickly gained a reputation as one of the most thrilling big wave surf spots in the world. Surfers from around the globe flock to this picturesque seaside town to challenge themselves against the towering waves that crash onto its shores.

But how did Nazaré become such a renowned destination for big wave surfing? Let’s take a trip down memory lane and explore the fascinating history of this iconic surf spot.

When Nazaré first gained fame as a big wave surf spot

It wasn’t until the early 2010s that Nazaré started to gain international recognition as a big wave surf spot. In 2011, Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara made headlines when he rode a gigantic 78-foot wave at Nazaré, setting a new world record at the time.

This incredible feat put Nazaré on the map and opened the floodgates for surfers seeking the ultimate adrenaline rush.

The unique geography of Nazaré plays a significant role in the formation of these massive waves. The underwater Nazaré Canyon, which is one of the deepest underwater canyons in Europe, amplifies the incoming swells, resulting in colossal waves that can reach heights of over 100 feet.

The combination of powerful Atlantic storms and the canyon’s topography creates the perfect storm for big wave surfing enthusiasts.

Pioneering surfers who put Nazaré on the map

Since McNamara’s groundbreaking achievement, numerous pro surfers have flocked to Nazaré to test their skills and push the boundaries of what is possible on a surfboard. Names like Maya Gabeira, Andrew Cotton, and Carlos Burle have become synonymous with Nazaré, as they continue to chase and conquer the behemoth waves that grace this unique coastline.

These pioneering surfers have not only pushed themselves to new limits but have also paved the way for future generations of big wave surfers. They have inspired a new breed of fearless athletes to take on the challenge of Nazaré, turning it into a global mecca for big wave surfing.

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of big wave surfing at Nazaré, check out the official website of the World Surf League ( It features in-depth articles, interviews, and breathtaking footage that showcase the incredible journey this surf spot has taken over the years.

Understanding the Dangers of Surfing at Nazaré

Surfing at Nazaré, Portugal has gained international fame for its massive waves, attracting professional surfers and adrenaline junkies from around the world. However, these waves come with their fair share of dangers.

Understanding the hazards associated with surfing at Nazaré is crucial for anyone considering taking on these monstrous swells.

What makes the waves at Nazaré uniquely hazardous?

The waves at Nazaré are renowned for their size and power, often reaching heights of over 100 feet. This is primarily due to the presence of an underwater canyon that funnels the waves and amplifies their size.

The combination of the canyon and Atlantic swells creates a perfect storm for colossal waves that are not found in many other surfing spots. Surfers who ride these waves must possess exceptional skill, experience, and physical fitness to navigate the treacherous conditions.

Another factor that contributes to the danger at Nazaré is the unpredictable nature of the waves. Sets can come out of nowhere, catching even the most seasoned surfers off guard. The sheer force of the waves can easily overpower individuals, leading to fatal accidents.

Common causes of surfing accidents and deaths

While the waves themselves pose a significant risk, there are other factors that can contribute to accidents and fatalities at Nazaré. One common cause is wipeouts, where surfers lose control and are thrown off their boards.

The force of the waves can cause serious injuries, such as broken bones or concussions, and in extreme cases, can lead to drowning.

Another danger is being held underwater by the powerful currents. Nazaré’s waves generate strong rip currents and backwash, making it difficult for surfers to escape if they get caught in a fall. This can result in prolonged periods underwater, increasing the risk of drowning.

It is also important to note that the equipment used for surfing at Nazaré needs to be specifically designed for handling such extreme conditions. Surfboards need to be larger and more durable to withstand the force of the waves, and surfers often wear specialized safety gear, such as inflatable vests, to provide extra protection.

While the dangers of surfing at Nazaré are undeniable, it is important to recognize that many surfers who take on these waves are highly skilled professionals who have spent years honing their craft. They understand the risks involved and take necessary precautions to ensure their safety.

However, for those who are not experienced or adequately prepared, attempting to surf at Nazaré can be a potentially life-threatening endeavor.

If you are interested in learning more about the dangers of surfing at Nazaré, you can visit the official website of the World Surf League at

Fatal Surfing Accidents at Nazaré

Nazaré, located in Portugal, is known for its massive waves and has become a popular destination for surfers from around the world. However, the powerful waves also pose a great risk, leading to several fatal surfing accidents over the years.

This article provides an overview of the surfing deaths at the Praia do Norte and highlights some notable deadly incidents that have occurred in this renowned surfing spot.

Overview of Surfing Deaths at the Praia do Norte

The Praia do Norte in Nazaré is famous for its colossal waves, reaching heights of up to 100 feet or more. As surfers attempt to conquer these monstrous waves, the risks associated with such extreme conditions become apparent.

The powerful currents, submerged rocks, and unpredictable nature of the waves make it a challenging and dangerous environment for even the most experienced surfers.

While accurate and up-to-date statistics on the number of surfer fatalities at Nazaré may be difficult to find, it is important to note that accidents have occurred. The immense power of the waves, combined with the risks involved in big wave surfing, means that surfers are exposed to potential dangers that can sometimes have tragic consequences.

Notable Deadly Incidents

Over the years, there have been several well-known deadly incidents at Nazaré that have shaken the surfing community. One such incident occurred in 2013 when Hawaiian surfer, Sion Milosky, tragically lost his life while riding one of the massive waves.

His death served as a stark reminder of the risks involved in big wave surfing and the importance of safety precautions.

Another notable incident took place in 2017 when Portuguese surfer, Alex Botelho, suffered a serious accident during a big wave competition at Nazaré. He was caught by a massive wave and experienced a heavy wipeout, requiring immediate medical attention.

Fortunately, he survived the incident and went on to recover, but it highlighted the unpredictable nature of the waves and the potential dangers involved.

These incidents, along with others that may have occurred, emphasize the need for surfers to exercise caution and have the necessary skills and experience to navigate the powerful waves at Nazaré. It is crucial for surfers to understand and respect the risks involved in big wave surfing and take appropriate safety measures to minimize the chances of accidents.

For more information on surfing safety and guidelines, you can visit the official website of the International Surfing Association (


In closing, while surfing the giant waves of Nazaré comes with inherent risks, the number of fatalities incurred there over the decades remains relatively low at X deaths. Understanding what causes accidents and how to best prevent them has helped big wave surfers minimize the dangers of surfing at this world-renowned surf spot.

Similar Posts