Riding the wave
random adventures

my adventure & volunteer trip to Tahiti – day 7, Teahupoo

This post is the seventh in a series of 10 (one for each day) of my adventure & volunteer trip to Tahiti, where I’m reliving this amazing adventure and sharing it with you. Ever since travel has come to a grinding halt (like everything else), I’m very grateful to have had this experience and look forward to future adventures.

nana house of catepillar

Time sure is flying in paradise! Today we are leaving Fare Hape & heading to Teahupoo, which is on the southwestern side of the island and should take about an hour to get there. After a delicious breakfast, we loaded up the Jeep and headed to our next adventure.

Ia Orana teahupoo

Teahupoo, known in the surfer world, is one of the best spots in the world for riding the waves. There are two surf seasons, Summer (November to March) and Winter (April to October). Teahupoo has been host to many professional surfing events in the past and will host the surfing events of the Paris 2024 Olympics.

origin of the name Teahupoo

The district of Te-ahu-poo is named after a wall (altar) of skulls, made of the bones of victims of a battle between the North and South districts of Tai-a-rapu. This battle arose from a disagreement about the frontier between Tautira and Matahihae (ancient name of Teahup’o). Once settled in bloodshed, the victorious warriors of the South district, beheaded their victims and put their heads on the frontier in Rapa’e. Thus, Te-ahu-poo literally means “Altar of skulls”.

the most dangerous wave in the world

The Teahupoo wave is sudden, fast, and powerful. When reaching its peak, it is so sudden that surfers cannot paddle to ride it, they have to be towed by jet skis. So fast it overtakes you, traps you deep in the tube, creating a frightening vacuum. So powerful it engulfs under tons of water.

An extraordinary spot, with razor-sharp coral reef under your feet and above your head, the most incredibly think and powerful lip ever seen. Its 6 meters tube is so wide that it could contain 2 trailers! Furthermore, these almost perfect circle waves make it hard to escape. Every year this spot has its victims. Only talent and technical mastery allow you to make it our alive.

Compared to waves of Jaws and Belharra, Teahupo’o waves rarely exceed 8 meters, which is already high. However, its speed, power, thickness, volume of water, coral, and shallow depth make it THE most dangerous wave. So dreaded that numbers of surfers fear it.

wave formation

There are three stages in the formation of a surfable wave. First, a wind generated swell off shore propagates into the ocean. Then they gather to regularise themselves for a period of time. This interval is called period and enables assessment of their power. Long period waves contain more energy than short period waves. Finally, they transform with the upwelling of the sea floor and break on the reef or the beach. For the same swell, all spots will not have the same waves, break and their sizes vary according to the sea floor (rocks, sand, etc) and slope.

In Teahupoo, the depth of the sea floor makes the difference. It suddenly reduces when approaching the shore. The offshore created swell and the abrupt rise of the sea floor cause the uprising particular to the break of this wave. Notice that the bottom of the tube is below sea level!

These descriptions were found on some signs on the beach.

beach clean-up

As we got settled in our new accommodations, once again, we explored the beautiful grounds. Then we set out to complete the volunteer task assigned for today, which was cleaning up the beach. Armed with garbage bags & gloves, we cleared the beach of debris for a couple of hours. It was a beautiful day so we didn’t mind it and honestly, the beaches were pretty clean already, so not much effort was needed.

nightly ritual

After volunteering, we relaxed a little more then we headed to our nightly ritual of watching the sunset with a cocktail in hand. Overall it was a productive yet pretty chill day.

*sigh* I could get used to this.

I hope you enjoyed day 7 of my adventure & volunteer trip to Tahiti. Here’s day 6 if you missed the last post and here’s day 1 if you want to catch up from the beginning. Click here for more Bamboo adventures.

I can’t believe I’m still saying this. Until the next adventure, be well & stay safe my friends.

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