The world’s largest wavesThe world’s largest waves

The world’s largest waves

The graphic story about the world’s largest waves was part of the April 2022 issue of National Geographic magazine. It takes place in Nazaré, a small fishermen village on the west coast of Portugal, that became known in recent years for having some of the world’s tallest waves. The graphic explains the influence of Nazaré’s submarine canyon—the largest in Europe and deeper than the Grand Canyon—in the formation of the waves. In collaboration with cartographers Eric Knight (satellite imagery) and Rosemary Wardley (inset map) we represented the canyon in a perspective never seen before to describe step-by-step how it channels and amplifies the swell arriving to the Portuguese coast from large winter storms occurring hundreds of miles away.

Nazaré has become one of the world’s most famous destinations for big-wave surfing. The text for this story, by Eve Conant, includes first person accounts of several award-winning surfers that have pushed themselves to the limits.

See the interactive online version (which may be behind a firewall), with step-by-step animations and a spectacular surfing video.