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Ghost Wave

The Discovery of Cortes Bank and the Biggest Wave on Earth

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Rising from the depths of the North Pacific lies a fabled island, now submerged just 15 feet below the surface of the ocean. Rumors and warnings about Cortes Bank abound, but among big wave surfers, this legendary rock is famous for one simple (and massive) reason: this is the home of the biggest rideable wave on the face of the earth. In this dramatic work of narrative non-fiction, journalist Chris Dixon unlocks the secrets of Cortes Bank and pulls readers into the harrowing world of big wave surfing and high seas adventure above the most enigmatic and dangerous rock in the sea. The true story of this Everest of the sea will thrill anyone with an abiding curiosity of and respect for mother ocean.

From Publishers Weekly

Oct 10, 2011 – Journalist Dixon, founding editor of, has written an engaging, multifaceted story of an obscure locale off the California coast that draws the most daring big-wave surfers in the world. Rising sea levels submerged the Cortes Bank thousands of years ago, but the former islands are so close to the surface that they make for dangerous seas. Dixon chronicles the history of human interaction with the bank, starting with Native Americans before Columbus and encompassing the days of sail and steam before bringing in contemporary surfers with their jet-skis and adrenaline addiction. Dixon’s ambition takes this story well beyond the realm of most surfing books. Early chapters include a daring reconstruction of an imagined journey to the area by proto-Chumash Indians. Accounts of American explorers and treasure hunters and the bizarre attempt to found a nation atop Cortes in the 1960s are equally fascinating. The second half of the book loses focus as Dixon tries to cover the entire history of big-wave surfing. Yet Dixon always writes capably, and his insider knowledge brings the allure and danger of this turbulent locale to life.

Customer Reviews


Whether you love the adventure of a waist-high wave or the life-threatening three-story drop of a Mavericks bomb...or the simple thrill of historic exploration gets you stoked...this book is one part Christopher Columbus, one part Ernest Shackleton and one part Edmund Hillary. An editorial thrill ride!


As a vicarious fan of surfing I was enrapt from the get go. I have read Susan Casey's book and loved it as well, especially the parts about the big wave surfers. This book has much more about the surfers themselves. It was fun learning more about so many of them. Being a dog lover, I love the part about Maverick!

Great story

Chris Dixon has done a ton of research to tell the whole story of Cortes Bank. I enjoyed all the background and the whole progression of Cortes Bank and big wave scene. I highly recommend this book to surfers, and those who are interested in good adventure stories.

Ghost Wave
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Earth Sciences
  • Published: Oct 21, 2011
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Seller: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Print Length: 272 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings