Cortes Bank

Terrifying open-ocean break located 100 miles west of San Diego, California; thought by many to be capable of producing the world's largest surfable waves. "A sort of supernatural Everest," surf writer Chris Dixon wrote, describing Cortes Bank. "It pulls like Melville's whale, an enigmatic monster that lures you out for the hunt—and nearly kills you every time."

Part of a 25-mile-long underwater mountain range, Cortes Bank is named after the steamship Cortes (which was named after the viciou...