Surfing at Teahupo’o

Located on the southwest coast of the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia, Teahupo’o is a small commune primarily known for its famous surf spot that attracts surfers from around the world. It is a legendary place, renowned for its extreme waves, international competitions, but also for the risks it presents. In this article, we will delve into the world of surfing in Teahupo’o by exploring its geographical location, the best seasons to surf the mythical wave, its characteristics, the competitions held there, the dangers it presents, safety tips for surfing, and the activities it offers.

1. The geographical location of Teahupo’o :

Teahupo’o is located on the southwest coast of the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia, which is the main island of the Society Archipelago. Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, is also located on this island. Teahupo’o is situated in the commune of Taiarapu-Ouest, about 70 kilometers from Papeete, which is approximately a 1.5-hour drive. To reach Teahupo’o from Faa’a Airport, which is near the capital city of Papeete, you can take a car, bus, or any other means of transportation heading towards Teahupo’o following the road on the island of Tahiti.

Intempéries en Polynésie française : l'aéroport de Tahiti Faa'a fermé

Teahupo’o is located in the southwest of the island of Tahiti

If you want to go directly to the surf spot, you should go to the marina to arrange for a taxi boat that can drop you off. Only a boat or a jet ski is suitable for traveling to the surf spot. Given the currents and distance, it is not feasible to paddle there.

La Marina de Teahupoo sur la presqu'île

Teahupo’o Marina

2. The best seasons for surfing in Teahupo’o

The months of May to August are generally considered the best seasons for surfing in Teahupo’o. During this period, swells from the South Pacific are most consistent and powerful, creating optimal conditions for the waves of Teahupo’o.

During the southern hemisphere winter, from June to August, swells are typically more robust, with massive and consistent waves. However, this also corresponds to a period when the wind can be stronger, making surfing conditions more challenging.

It is always recommended to check the weather forecasts and local surf reports before planning your trip to Teahupo’o, to choose the period when conditions are most suitable for your skill level and surfing preferences.

3. Teahupo’o: “Hava’e” a legendary surf spot

Today, many tend to refer to the surf spot as Teahupo’o, which is not entirely incorrect as it belongs to the village of Teahupo’o. Nevertheless, it is important to know that Teahupo’o is the name of the village, and the locals refer to the surf spot as “Hava’e.” If you ever hear this name, remember that it is the name given to this iconic spot.

Plage de Tehaupoo à Teahupoo: 2 expériences et 4 photos

The surf spot of Havae, better known as Teahupo’o

Teahupo’o means “cut heads” or “skull wall” in Tahitian. The “skull wall” is related to the legend that at the territorial border of the village, the island clans fiercely fought, leading to the construction of a dark wall made up of the heads and bones of the defeated clans. Another legend tells that the “cut heads” refer to the skulls of Tahitian ancestors who dared to challenge the powerful waves of Havae and ended up resting at the bottom of the ocean.

JO 2024 : tout ce qu'il faut savoir sur le site de l'épreuve de surf, en Polynésie française

The place at the end of the road in Teahupo’o

4. Characteristics of the wave

The Teahupo’o wave is formed by an underwater coral reef located several hundred meters from the shore. The depth abruptly drops from 45 meters to 0. Additionally, the lagoon is slightly elevated compared to the ocean. When the wave breaks, the water from the lagoon is sucked out, creating a unique phenomenon that amplifies the height and strength of the waves. That’s why the wave is so hollow, powerful, with enormous barrels.

The size and power of the Teahupo’o waves are also influenced by oceanic conditions, such as the strength and direction of swells coming from the South Pacific. During the winter season in the Southern Hemisphere, when swells are more frequent and stronger, the waves at Teahupo’o reach their peak in terms of size and power.

Tahiti : au cœur de la vague infernale

Surfer at Teahupo’o

La sublime vague d'Ariihoe Tefaafana à Teahupoo sélectionnée aux Big Wave Awards

A surfer taking on the immense wave of Teahupo’o

5. Competitions held at Teahupo’o

Every year, Teahupo’o hosts some of the most prestigious surfing competitions in the world. Here are some of the renowned competitions that take place at Teahupo’o :

  • World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour : Teahupo’o is an essential stop on the WSL professional surfing circuit. Every year, the world’s best surfers gather to participate in the Teahupo’o event, where they challenge the tubular waves of the spot. This competition is sponsored by the surf brand Billabong and is one of the highlights of the championship.

Captain Kais World: Billabong Pro Tahiti - The Captain's Preview

Poster of the Billabong Pro Tahiti 2011

  • Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o : Organized by the Tahitian Surfing Federation, this national competition brings together the most talented Polynesian surfers. It is an opportunity for local surfers to face Teahupo’o and showcase their skills among other international surfers. The Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o is a celebration of Polynesian surfing that highlights the abilities of local surfers.

Outerknown Tahiti Pro 2022 : dernier round des championnats du monde de surf à Teahupoo • TNTV Tahiti Nui Télévision

Owen Wright, winner of the Tahiti Pro 2019

Tahiti Pro Teahupoo – 22 Tahitiens engagés dans les Trials - DOM TOM ACTU - Toute l'actualité des DOM TOM

Mataiea Hiquily at the Tahiti Pro

  • 2024 Olympic Games : Teahupo’o will host the surfing events of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games for the first time in Tahiti. It is a significant and important event that will bring together the world’s best surfers and spectators from around the globe.

6. Risks and Dangers

Surfing at Teahupo’o presents considerable risks and dangers due to the unique characteristics of the wave and the environment. There have been five deaths reported at the spot since the 2000s.

Here are the main risks and dangers that surfers may encounter :

Size and power of the wave : The waves at Teahupo’o can reach significant sizes, but it is the impressive force with which they break that poses the greatest danger. The force of the wave can cause violent falls, and the sharp reef is always close by, making accidents and serious injuries common. Several fatal accidents have occurred at Teahupo’o, including the death of Tahitian surfer Brice Taerea.

Coral reef : The seabed at Teahupo’o consists of a living coral reef, which is extremely sharp and cutting. Wearing a surf helmet is common, and precautions must be taken to avoid injury. Check out our blog post on how to surf a reef without getting hurt.

Strong currents : The currents at Teahupo’o are powerful, which can make it challenging to paddle back to the lineup after catching a wave or falling. Surfers need to be aware of the currents and have excellent physical fitness.

Weather conditions : Weather conditions can change rapidly at Teahupo’o. Strong winds and changes in tides can affect the quality and safety of the waves. Surfers should pay attention to weather forecasts and listen to local advice. Alternatively, you can always check Windguru for sea condition forecasts.

Presence of other surfers : Due to Teahupo’o’s worldwide reputation, there can be a high number of surfers in the water. This can create tensions among surfers, requiring increased vigilance, good communication, and mutual respect.

Teahupo’o is reserved for experienced surfers who are in excellent physical condition, have a high level of technical skill, and are aware of the inherent risks at this legendary spot. It is also recommended to surround yourself with experienced local surfers.

7. Tips for surfing the wave

Surfing the wave at Teahupo’o is a challenge reserved for high-level surfers. Here are some important tips to surf safely and maximize your experience on this wave:

Be physically and mentally prepared : Teahupo’o, known for its hollow waves, requires optimal physical condition, strength, and endurance to handle its extreme conditions. Prepare yourself mentally to face imposing waves and make quick decisions.

Analyze the spot : Before venturing into the waters of Teahupo’o, study the spot carefully. Familiarize yourself with the reef’s layout, currents, and wave characteristics. Observe local surfers to understand the best lines to take and the recommended entry and exit points.

Choose the right equipment : Select your surfboard carefully based on the conditions at Teahupo’o. Shortboard surfboards are chosen by high-level surfers and are suitable for the day’s conditions. You may consider wearing a surf wetsuit for increased protection in case of contact with the reef. A surf helmet is also a good safety addition.

Learn to read the waves : At Teahupo’o, it is crucial to know how to read the waves and anticipate critical sections. Observe how the waves form and break, identify sections to avoid, and spot areas where you can position yourself to catch the best waves.

Start with smaller waves : If you are new to Teahupo’o or do not have the necessary experience to tackle big waves, start with smaller conditions. Gradually familiarize yourself with the spot’s conditions and gain confidence before venturing into larger waves.

Respect local surfers and the environment : As a guest at Teahupo’o, respect local surfers and the surfing priority rules. Be respectful of the natural environment by avoiding littering and preserving the beauty of the area.

Be prepared to call it quits : If you feel overwhelmed by the conditions or if you are exhausted, do not hesitate to call it quits and get out of the water. Safety should always be the top priority, and there is no need to take unnecessary risks.

Follow these tips to surf Teahupo’o safely, skillfully, and with respect, keeping in mind that experience is paramount.

8. Activities to Discover

In Teahupo’o, you’ll find a multitude of activities to enjoy beyond surfing. Here are some popular activities you can experience during your stay:

Boat excursions : Explore the stunning coastal landscapes of Teahupo’o and dive into the crystal-clear waters during boat excursions, which often include a visit to the Vaipoiri Cave.

Tahiti Iti Tour and Surf : Nautic tours, Taxi Boat, Teahupoo Surf Tours on Tahiti Iti (Tahiti peninsula)

Boat Excursion

Hiking : Teahupo’o offers captivating hikes through exceptional natural landscapes. The trails provide breathtaking views of the ocean, mountains, and coastal panoramas. You can explore waterfalls, lush valleys, and cliffs. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, the hikes in Teahupo’o invite you to discover the Polynesian nature.

Randonnée à vélo ou à pied | Tahiti Tourisme – Site officiel de Tahiti Et Ses îles

Hiking in Teahupo’o

Explore the end of the Teahupo’o road : The end of the Teahupo’o road marks the threshold where urbanization merges with the wild nature. It is where explorers reach the limit of the road and find themselves in a preserved environment. This is the starting point that will lead you to discover the wild corners of Teahupo’o, with a view of the famous surf spot “Hava’e,” or venture onto its hiking trails.

Photos Excursion

The Teahupo’o Bridge

The Teahupo’o Bridge is located at the end of the road. You need to cross this bridge to continue your journey and visit the rest of the area. If you want to reach the surf spot, you need to go to the marina, where a taxi boat can take you on a tour or simply drop you off. However, there is also a road that allows cars to cross the river and go to the other side of the bridge, leading to the wild areas of the region. It is not advisable to take this road in case of heavy rain.

TEAHUPO'O – Service du tourisme

Location after the bridge

Découvrez les plus belles plages de Tahiti

View of the path to walk after the Teahupo’o bridge

Teahupoo Adventures Tours & Surf | Surf Tours in Tahiti French Polynesia

Vaipoiri Cave

Les falaises de Te Pari

Te Pari Cliffs

Exploring Waterfalls : Near Teahupo’o, you will find beautiful waterfalls where you can swim and refresh yourself. Enjoy the tropical ambiance and natural beauty by visiting Te Pari Waterfall.


Te Pari Waterfall

Teahupoo Tahiti Surfari : Teahupoo Tours & Teahupoo Taxi boat

Te Pari Waterfall and Spring

In conclusion, Teahupo’o embodies the adventure and natural beauty of French Polynesia. It has gained recognition through its legendary surf spot “Hava’e,” which offers epic and tubular waves, attracting surfers from around the world. It is important to acknowledge that Teahupo’o is a destination for experienced surfers due to its demanding conditions and inherent risks. Along with the multitude of activities to enjoy, Teahupo’o remains an epic destination to visit.

About Hotuhere Bryant :

Hotuhere is a native Tahitian from Tahiti who joined Mundo-Surf as an intern in May 2023. She resides in the commune of Mataiea, located 17 kilometers from Teahupo’o. Through this article, she shares the world of surfing at Teahupo’o.

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