Located in San Mateo County about an hour south of San Francisco in Northern California is the surf break Mavericks. Mavericks is a world-renowned big wave spot and has been at the forefront of big wave paddle surfing since its discovery. This wave is dangerous, it has claimed multiple lives, most notably Mark Foo: A big wave pro from Hawaii. The take-off jacks up quickly from deep water as it hits the shallow rock shelf in front of Boneyards. Boneyards is a collection of massive, sharp boulders in front of the lineup, you do not want to get pushed in here. The rock reef itself is littered with caves that can trap a surfer or snag a leash easily. Make the drop and the wave tapers off into a massive wall for about 200 meters into a well-defined channel. Mavericks is primarily a right, although the left has been surfed in recent years by a few hellmen. The power of this wave is legendary, falling on take off almost guarantees a two-wave hold down at the minimum, no small feat on the long period winter groundswells. Other hazards include a very healthy great white shark population, currents like rivers, and freezing water. Doesn’t sound too inviting? Then settle in on the cliffs that provide an amphitheatre-like atmosphere for this epic surf break and watch the carnage.
What are the best surf conditions for Mavericks?
There really isn’t an upper limit on size here, but it starts working at around double overhead. A gun with a lot of paddle power is best here, but if you have a jetski and a friend a tow board will do (be aware that locals might frown upon towing into waves here, paddling has become much more of the norm). Only advanced surfers and pros should try and surf here, anything else is a poorly disguised death wish. In the winters the surf here is semi-consistent (4/10) but there is always a frothing pack of locals and visiting pros on it (9/10). Offshore winds are best and come from due East. The best swells are big groundswells from the West or Northwest. Works best on a mid to low tide.
We recommend a 4/3 in the summer here when the water temperature rises to about 15 degrees. In the winter a 5/4 is necessary when the water temperatures drop to around 12 degrees. See the temperature chart below for more data on this.