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Mavericks Big Wave Surf Spot!

San Francisco, CA
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Mavericks Big Wave Surf Spot!, San Francisco California

Description

Mavericks surf spot is a fun place to take in the excitement over massive waves, when the swell is right. Here, a trench in the ocean floor creates monster waves, and big wave surfers come from far away to ride the giants. The waves can suck you under, taking your life, as they did to Sion Milosky in 2011 and Mark Foo in 1994. World champion surfer Kelly Slater describes his brush with death at Mavericks, "It slammed me super deep. It was like an underwater waterfall." That was in 1999 and he hasn't returned since.
When the swell is just right, the Mavericks Surf Contest is held here. Competitors attend by invitation only, and fly from such distant shores as Brazil and South Africa to risk their lives for their sport. We heard on the radio that the 2008 contest was on, so on a whim, we drove up to Half Moon Bay to see the contest the next day, January 12! We started early, in the morning fog, and hiked up to the top of the cliffs at Pillar Point to see the exciting swells and the lineup of surfers waiting for a ride. By midmorning, the weather was gorgeous, and we joined hordes of people on the trek around the harbor to the beach at the tip of Pillar Point. Here a TV screen was set up in a lame spot by stinky hamburger stand generators. Because of the mud, it couldn't be transported to the beach, which was a real shame, because it would have been nice to sit on the beach and watch the TV coverage of the contest. It was hard to see the contest from the beach- a line of rocks and the waves in front always blocked the view of the competitors catching their great rides. Oh well, at least we got our Mavericks 2008 t-shirts, to show our spirit for having driven over 300 miles to be part of the fun! In retrospect, our original spot on the cliffs was the best place to view the contest, and I'd have stayed up there if I'd known. It was also a shorter walk and a prettier place. The beach below is a dark grey muddy affair with impressive vertical cliffs of chocolately mud that look like they could collapse at any moment. Crazy individuals sat perched on these. They had the best view, but at a risky price! During the 2006 contest, under the weight of so many people, one of the cliffs fell, and a woman broke her hip.
Pillar Point Harbor, where Mavericks is accessed, is not the prettiest area in Half Moon Bay. Make sure to check out the nearby beaches, such as Point Montara Lighthouse Beach or Fitzgerald Tide Pools if you want to see some really gorgeous spots!
Usually I don't get into the tricky business of hotel recommendations, but we stayed at the Best Western Half Moon Lodge, and it was exceptionally good so I'm going to highly recommend it! We had a fantastic swim in their super-warm pool! And relaxed afterward in their jacuzzi that is outdoors and yet shielded with glass.

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Photo Gallery

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Onlookers check out the 2008 Surf Contest from the cliffs, in the early morning.
Onlookers check out the 2008 Surf Contest from the cliffs, in the early morning.
Wow! These people are serious about their close-up shots!
Wow! These people are serious about their close-up shots!
Checking out the huge waves and the morning sky, from the cliffs.
Checking out the huge waves and the morning sky, from the cliffs.
Contest organizers set up their tents along Pillar Point Harbor, on a lovely January morning.
Contest organizers set up their tents along Pillar Point Harbor, on a lovely January morning.
The walk along Pillar Point Harbor to the beach where the surfers surf Mavericks!
The walk along Pillar Point Harbor to the beach where the surfers surf Mavericks!
The vertical cliffs of mud, where trusting folks gather to get a better view of the waves.
The vertical cliffs of mud, where trusting folks gather to get a better view of the waves.
The beach, entry point for Mavericks.
The beach, entry point for Mavericks.
Maybe not such a great idea...
Maybe not such a great idea...
View of Pillar Point (where Mavericks waves crash out at sea), from Highway 1.
View of Pillar Point (where Mavericks waves crash out at sea), from Highway 1.
The headland at Mavericks, summertime.
The headland at Mavericks, summertime.
Memorial to Mark Foo, big wave surfer who died at Mavericks- a sad story.
Memorial to Mark Foo, big wave surfer who died at Mavericks- a sad story.
 

Directions

From Hwy 1, take Capistrano Rd toward the water, turn right on Prospect Way, and then find a parking spot on Cornell, Yale, Harvard, or Princeton Avenue. At the end of these streets, walk right on W. Point Avenue, and this leads to where the wide walking path begins. On surf contest days, there is also parking at the airport and a free shuttle bus takes attendees from the airport to the beginning of the walking path that leads to the cliffs and the beach. The thin trail to the top of the cliffs heads off to the right from the walking path. To get to the beach you continue around the harbor along the walking path.

This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.

Visitor Ratings

Overall Visitor Rating:


Graham
07/12/2010 20:55
intense

Denno
11/19/2009 11:56
that u Ted D? have you used it at Mavz? was out 11-7 n 8 it was cool. especially the sneaker set - what an education.

Robert
10/01/2009 14:17
Ahhh, Mavericks. So many memories of that place.

Ted
09/09/2009 14:03
This place will hold you underwater for as long as a minute. During west swels it pins you in the worst part of the impact zone then out of the blue shoots you to the sky. Spooked!

Last Updated Wed, 03 Sep 2014 15:43:38 GMT