It's where the world's best surfers migrate to put their skills to the test. 300 islands make up the Republic of Fiji. Surf fanatics descend on them to chase some of the smoothest barrels and perfect swells to be found in the South Pacific. Some enthusiasts leave their jobs and families behind for weeks at a time to enjoy the world-class breaks.
Fiji is filled with surf spots that are popular with today's discriminating surfers. From Cloudbreak to Suva lighthouse, there's no shortage of places to test your mettle. That said, here are the top 5 surf breaks that have catapulted Fiji to the top of every surfer's "must visit" list.
#1 – Restaurants
Restaurants has two personalities. Small swells and mild winds coming up from the southwest produce seas that are tame enough for all but beginners. That's one of the reasons for its popularity.
But when the swells are larger and the winds are stronger, they can reach 10 ft. or higher. Novices are advised to pack up their boards at that point. Experienced surfers will find ultra-smooth barrels over the exposed reef.
#2 – Cloudbreak
This is one of the best-known surf spots in Fiji. Like Restaurants, it's a left reef break. It's located approximately 3 miles from Namotu Island.
Cloudbreak's reputation is built on two traits: huge waves and fast barrels. The surf usually ranges between 3 and 8 ft, making it a great playground for intermediate surfers. But under the right conditions (big swells from the southeast and southwest), they can easily – and surprisingly quickly – reach heights of 20 ft.
#3 – Namotu Lefts
This is popular for a few reasons. First, it offers great surfing throughout most of the year. Smallish waves – 2 to 6 ft – are the norm, perfect for longboards and SUP. But swells from the south and southwest can increase their height to 15 ft. When that happens, you're better off trading in your longboard for a thruster or gun.
Second, Namotu Lefts is known for its long barrels. It's common to be able to travel through the tube for more than 200m rides
Third, the break is usually easy to access. When the waves are small, you can even reach it on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP).
#4 – Desperations
Desperations is popular because it's consistent during a large percentage of the year. You'll find powerful, fast barrels, even when other spots are flat. When swells from the southwest and winds from the northeast push in, the ride is even more exciting.
During the week, most surfers venture to Restaurants, Cloudbreak, Wilkes Passage and Namotu Lefts. That leaves Desperations remarkably free of crowds (the weekends are a different story). It's ideal if you're looking for a fantastic spot at which to spend the day without having to jockey for position among others.
#5 – Wilkes Passage
This popular right break is located approximately 1 mile off the shore of Namotu. Its waves peak at 12 ft, but are often as small as 3 ft. That range, combined with consistent surf, makes Wilkes Passage a fine break for the experienced surfer
The best waves are produced by swells from the southwest and trade winds from the northeast. Long barrels and powerful, fast waves make Wilkes Passage a thrilling surfing experience.
A word of caution: don't let the sometimes modest water at Wilkes lull you into a false sense of security. This right-hand break is spread over rocks and exposed reef. Stay wary.
The surf in Fiji is renowned for good reasons. Numerous spots offer some of the best surfing in the world. When you're ready to tackle waves unlike any of those you'll find at home, put your skills to the test in the waters that surround the Fiji islands.