When it comes to sublime surf spots, we all know that island destinations create some of the sickest swells through the combination of their winds, tides and unique seafloor scapes. On top of the often unbelievable waves, the island lifestyle lends itself to the makings of some of the most epic surfing holidays out there.
Whether you are looking to take on the monster “14-footers” of Los Tubos in Puerto Rico, try out the beauties on “Cloud 9” beach on Siargao Island in the Philippines, or are brave enough to put your board in the firing line of Fiji’s famous barrels – there are island breaks for every surfing soul out there.
If it’s variety you’re after, then Fiji is your baby – with the main surf island Viti Levu offering safe surf for all levels – and the Mamanuca group of islands throwing up more extreme surf for those looking for a challenge. Namotu Island is a particular favourite for its world-class surf breaks, which are known to wipe out even some of the most hardened professionals.
(Photo: Stu Gibson)
Here are some surf travel tips to make sure that your trip to Fiji is just as epic as you expect it to be:
Surfing in Fiji
Located in the South Pacific, Fiji is made up of hundreds of different islands, and this means that there is a surf spot out there to suit every kind of experience level, budget, and accommodation need. When it comes to the sheer number of incredible surf spots in one place, there simply is no beating Namotu Island, which has no fewer than six world-class surf breaks that are merely 19 minutes apart by boat, and four of these spots are within one minute of each other. The island has been described by world surfing champion Joel Parkinson as a “second home for almost 10 years now. If you're an ocean lover, it'll become your favourite place in the world."
When is the best season for surfing in Fiji?
Although the weather is pretty amazing throughout the year, and you can definitely find decent surf spots no matter what season it is – there are two distinct surfing seasons that you are going to want to plan around when getting ready for a surf trip in Fiji.
November to March is the summer season in Fiji, when wetter, warmer weather and lighter winds combine to create good surf for every level. However, the going gets really good in May, June and July, when low-pressure systems build up in the Southern Hemisphere and send some serious swells Fiji’s way. Winter months between April and October is the best time for experienced surfers to take on some of Fiji’s monster 8–10 footers and get some serious surf in.
(Photo: Stu Gibson)
Even seasoned surfers that travel the globe often forget to cover their tails when searching for the next hotspot. Travel insurance is not just essential to cover your equipment, but will also give you much more confidence when taking on the famous Cloudbreak, a spot known for its ferocity. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that should you have a nasty wipeout – your medical expenses will be taken care of.
Set a daily budget
Start your surf trip in Fiji on the right foot by getting your finances in order. Download a daily budgeting app like the Travel Budget App, this will eliminate those awkward moments of wondering exactly how many more beers you can afford to buy.
Plan your surf spots
There are a number of different surf breaks that you can plan your surf trip to Fiji around, but these are our suggestions to get the swells:
Cloudbreak: “Cloudbreak is just about three miles straight south of Namotu Island. A world class left reef pass that is regularly voted one of the 10 Best/Most challenging waves in the world. Like many tropical reef-pass breaks, Cloudbreak tends to get faster, shallower and more critical as it goes.
Cloudbreak’s reputation precedes it. Routinely ranking among the ten most challenging waves in the world, this renowned Fiji surf spot boasts fast, barrelling lefts over a shallow reef. It’s one of those breaks you just have to see to believe. It is awe-inspiring. Even if you're not up to surfing it, it's equally as thrilling to watch from the boat and see others attempt it.”
Located just three miles south of Namotu Island Resort – it’s easily accessible and is best surfed when the wind is coming from a Southwesterly direction. Cloudbreak is one of the most challenging surf spots in Fiji and should be taken seriously.
Wilkes Pass: This potent right barrel is a crushing wave that breaks on the southern tip of a lengthy barrier reef. These waves will ask questions of even the most experienced surfer – particularly around the 10-foot mark. Found just one mile Northwest of Namotu – Wilkes Pass is a great place to catch consistently great waves.
“Wilkes is long and hollow, rising straight out of the very deep water at the end of the Malolo Barrier Reef. You can expect consistent surfing here, even if it is a bit smaller during the summer. Given its location across a deep channel at the end of the Malolo Barrier Reef, you need to watch out for rips as well as the reef, but it is not as shallow as some of the other spots to surf in Fiji.
Wilkes' location opens it up to swells and all kinds of wind, which gives reasonable take-offs followed by long walls. You'll find some nice sections of speed on the wall and will end up in a shallow, inside bowl.”
Wilkes is best surfed at high tide with a northeasterly wind. Wave are often 1.5 to two metres high but 10 footer are also a regular occurrence.
Namotu Lefts: “Namotu Lefts delivers consistently hollow, powerful barrels, and long waves, though they are flatter in the summer. As the name implies, this is a left-hander that breaks consistently year-round on exposed reef. Watch out for rocks and rips here. Groundswells are more frequent than wind swells with onshore winds easily blowing it out.
Namotu Lefts is one of the best places to surf in Fiji if you want to test out some new manoeuvres. Long ride lengths and plenty of friendly sections give you more than enough time to try out new techniques or get in a long ride on a great swell.”
Located just east of Namotu, Lefts is best surfed with winds from the Northeast, and while the regular six – 15 footers are epic waves for experienced surfers, the usual two to six-foot waves offer great options for beginners, longboarding and SUPping.
Have a rest day:
“Swimming Pools is the place to have fun on the water, whether you've got a longboard or a shortboard. It is a right reef break that comes up from the deep ocean with clean groundswells. This gives it speed, power, and length that make it suitable for a wide range of surfing styles and boards. Winds from the East or Northeast will give you the best Fiji surf runs.
Expect barrels with big cutbacks, making it easy to square off and hit the lip just right. Swell heights range from 1.5m-4m and deliver near-perfect breaks every time. Swells tend to be flatter in the summer, like most of the surfing in Fiji.”
Swell that come from south/southwest produce the best conditions at Swimming Pool and it is a really great spot to get some good, clean waves without too much of a challenge.
“Restaurants is a left reef break that is long and hollow. It does not get as much swell as Cloudbreak, thanks to a 180-degree turn around the island, but still manages excellent three to eight-foot waves.
Plenty of power means fast movement through barrels of perfectly shaped waves. It is long and shreddable and has even been referred to as "machine-like" due to its consistency. Both longboarders and shortboarders have fun on these waves. Lengths are normally 50-150m and tube rides of up to 15 seconds are not unheard of for skilled riders.”
When winds are coming from east/southeast is when the best surf kicks up in Restaurants. Keep in mind that it is located above a sharp coral reef and should only be surfed from mid to high tide.
Namotu Island Bar and Restaurant:
After a day out in the breakers, there is nothing better than a cold beer and a hearty, healthy plate of food. The Island Bar and Restaurant on Namotu offers both of these things in abundance and is the perfect spot for a relaxing afternoon session. Chill out and have a look at the rest of the surf spots that Fiji has to offer.
(Photo: Stu Gibson)
From its cerulean waters and golden beaches, the Cloudbreak and boiling barrels of Wilkes Pass, to the friendliest of people, a diverse culture and a landscape so beautiful it is simply unmatched anywhere else in the world – Fiji makes for an unforgettable and exhilarating surf trip. Planning your trip to this island paradise ensures that you are about to embark on a surfing adventure of a lifetime. So, what are you waiting for?