The waves at Teahupo’o in Tahiti are as beautiful as they are dangerous. The beaches are protected by vast, shallow coral reefs, creating a beautiful natural breakwater. Those same coral reefs are responsible for massive waves, recognized as some of the most dangerous waves in the world. Powered by storms thousands of miles away, the waves can take up to 10 days to reach Teahupo’o, traveling from as far away as New Zealand, Australia and Antarctica. Nothing stands between the wave’s creation and the reef shelf 1,500 feet offshore, surging the swell from a depth of 150 feet to a depth of 20 feet over a brutally short distance. This abrupt slope of the seafloor causes the massive, heavy, towering waves that break on top of the razor-sharp reef.
Ryan has captured the dangers of the waves of Teahupo’o in other photographs. For this shot, he chose to emphasize the natural beauty. “This place is wild. Raw and pure, it requires your entire attention and makes you live the present moment. I wish everyone took the time to reconnect with nature. You just need to remove yourself from the noise and look for stillness in the nature around you.”