But during a recent swell, one 16-year-old redefined grace under pressure when she barely escaped one of Nazaré's crushing waves.
Surfer Mahina Maeda is only just old enough to get her driver's license, but she's no stranger to big surf, having grown up on Oahu's North Shore. She's now a pro surfer on the ASP World Junior circuit and, as you can see in the above video, she's not afraid of much.
Watch as Maeda is towed into a massive wave that immediately closes out (when all parts of the wave break simultaneously, making the face of the wave unrideable). The lip of the wave comes crashing down, and the resulting spray dwarfs Maeda as she just barely makes it out in time. (We mentioned she's only 16, right?)
Though the wave was far from perfect, the ride was entered as an early contender for the 2015 XXL Big Wave Awards.
Stay safe, Mahina. We want to see what else you can do.