Lifeguards said the couple – named as Russian DJ Andrei Ivanov and his wife Yulia – barely stood a chance against the monster wave which hit on Saturday.
The 47-year-old man drowned, while his 45-year-old wife was helped to safety after being swept into the surf.
“She was crying and shouting ‘My husband is inside the water’,” one witness told 7NEWS.
Experts aren’t sure if the man was knocked unconscious by the force of the wave, but he couldn’t be revived.
The tragedy prompted a warning by lifeguards.
“Avoid the rocks, stick to the beach, anything can happen… if you’re unsure about the conditions, come and talk to the lifeguards,” Waverley lifeguard Matt Du Plessis told 7NEWS.
NSW Ambulance duty operations manager Sally Groves said it was an “absolutely horrendous outcome”.
“Paramedics worked closely with other emergency services and did everything possible to try and save his life, but sadly he was unable to be saved,” Ms Groves added.