A HOLIDAY AT TEAHUPOO
Now here's a dangerous idea. Fly into Tahiti's Faa'a airport, collect your board bag and head for the village at the end of the road. Teahupoo means "scraped head" in the local lingo but you know that already. You are heading towards the most dangerous wave in the world, a known killer. It's crossed your mind several thousand times since you left home. You've imbibed all the photos and all the films: Laird's Millennium wave, Andy's airdrop, Dorian's XXL beast, Nathan Fletcher's black hole. Chopes lurks in your nightmares as a man-eater and yet you've come anyway. You're here for a holiday and here's what you find: paradise. Tahiti is a super model of an island – all towering mountains, verdant valleys and aquamarine lagoons. The locals are beautiful, chilled out and friendly. The near-shore waves are fun and consistent while the reef passes sculpt pacific perfection. Most of your stay the waves aren't remotely terrifying. You find hifi beachies, long wrapping walls and snug cylinders. Whenever Teahupoo breaks you're out there. Under five feet it's a perfect sectionless barrel. When it gets bigger it becomes a heart-in-the-mouth thriller. You learn to read the waves and, late in your stay, a set finds you in position. You push yourself over the ledge, engage your inside rail and pump mightily. The ocean folds and the island that Gauguin could never leave appears through a perfectly round frame. It's the wave of your life, the trip of your life. You know now that the cliché is true: that not taking risk can be the biggest risk of all. Real danger lurks on the couch and in the soft option. Tahiti has taught you to live.