Police have called off a marine search for 23-year-old international student Heng Yi Goh, who was swept off rocks near Yallingup this week.
Police said Mr Goh, a University of Western Australia student, was on rocks at the Injidup Nature Spa when a wave knocked him into the ocean on Monday.
They described Mr Goh’s futile attempts to get back to safety before he was swamped by a second big wave and disappeared.
“He was swept off by a wave, managed to scramble back on a rock, and then was hit again by another wave and wasn’t seen since,” said Sergeant Jane Gillham, officer-in-charge at Dunsborough Police Station.
“After the first wave hit him he slid back off the rock, then climbed back up again and then got hit by a second wave.
“It’s quite steep, it would be a couple of metres to the water level from where he was standing.”
The search was called off late on Friday.
Photo trip goes horribly wrong
Mr Goh, a Singaporean studying a Masters of Economics, was with five friends, all international students, taking photos of the waves when he was swept away.
“I guess they underestimated the power of the surf that comes in there,” Sergeant Gillham said.
Police said the swell was about six metres when Mr Goh was swept away and conditions became so dangerous a search boat was stood down.
With hazardous four-metre swells and wind gusts up to 50 kilometres an hour continuing, searchers called in a rescue helicopter, to no avail.
The south-west coastline is notorious for dangerous surf conditions.
In April, one fisherman died and a second was taken to hospital when they were knocked off rocks near Margaret River, about 50km south of Yallingup.
In 2016, a 25-year-old South West man died after jumping from rocks in the same area.
Mr Goh’s family in Singapore was attempting to arrange travel to Australia.