With its tropical settings, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, Fiji is a popular coastal destination that has also garnered legendary status as a surfing mecca for intermediate to advanced surfers over the years. Let’s find out why!
With its moderate climate throughout the seasons, Fiji has been identified as a year-round surfing destination, which, while catering mostly for intermediate to advanced surfers, has ample conditions and facilities to help new and beginner surfers become conditioned to the swells.
While avid surfers may know Fiji as one of the best-surfing destinations in the world, new or beginner surfers may not be aware of the history, culture, and quality of surfing that can be found in this Pacific archipelago. Let’s explore them now:
What Must I Know About Surfing In Fiji?
As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Fiji is accommodating, welcoming, affordable, and easy to navigate for international tourists.
When it comes to surfing, it is worth exploring Fiji’s surfing scene before booking your next getaway.
1. When Is The Best Time To Surf In Fiji?
The diversity of Fiji’s extensive coastline among its many islands means that Fiji is a year-round surfing destination. Furthermore, Fiji’s tropical climate along the Pacific Ocean means that it has a mild climate throughout most of the year.
However, different seasons can significantly alter the ocean swell meaning that the different ocean temperaments and conditions will appeal to surfers of varying experiences throughout the year.
In this regard, Fiji would be seen to mirror other surfing destinations that identify summer as having calmer waves that are easier for beginner surfers to ride, while winter produces larger and more powerful waves for experienced surfers.
Consequently, each season needs to be seen with regard to the area where you want to surf, as this will determine the water conditions and temperatures that require different preparation:
Summer In Fiji
During summer, from November to April, Fiji experiences its hottest and wettest weather. Although certain surfing spots can be flat for extended periods of time, swells in the North Pacific do provide decent waves.
Overall, summer remains the best time for new and beginner surfers to go to Fiji, as the smaller, gentler waves, warm waters, and calm breezes make the challenging swells easier to navigate.
With a water temperature sitting at an average of 80F and 82F, wetsuits are seldom needed, save for afternoon sessions which tend to bring the summer rains. Booties are also recommended, not because of the water temperature, but to protect your feet from Fiji’s many coral reefs (this applies to all seasons below.)
Winter In Fiji
During winter from March and November, the temperature in Fiji drops slightly, and the dry season begins. While the temperature may not see a noticeable dip, the winds do pick up and may make the swell inconsistent toward late afternoon.
That being said, the winter months are the prime time for intermediate and advanced surfers to visit Fiji, as the powerful swells can produce waves averaging between eight and ten feet.
As a result of this increased, cool wind, it is recommended that a light 1mm wetsuit be equipped while surfing.
In conclusion, you should plan your surfing trip according to your experience level and your preferred climate/surfing conditions.
Take note further that summer may result in busier beaches and higher costs (although, paradoxically, the sea may be quieter due to fewer surfers.) While winter can prove a cheaper but more advanced option akin to serious surfers than casual hobbyists.
2. Is There A Surfing Culture In Fiji?
Although the history of surfing is clouded in mystery and folklore, there is evidence to suggest that surfing grew organically with the rise of fishing expeditions upward of 4 000 years ago in and around the topical surroundings of the Pacific Ocean.
Most notable is the belief that the expeditions of Polynesians from Indonesia into archipelagos such as modern-day Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa brought with it surfing well before the arrival of the European settlers in the 19th century.
As a result of these early surfers and their evolution into the modern sport, communities across Fiji have practiced surfing for centuries and remain integral to Polynesian culture across the many islands of the archipelago.
For this reason, it is appropriate that the birthplace of surfing would play host to the establishment of the first surf resort in the world, that being the construction of the Tavarua Island Resort in Fiji in 1984.
The construction of this resort was significant not only for surfing culture in Fiji and international recognition as a world-class surfing destination but also served as a benchmark for all subsequent surfing resorts the world over.
Consequently, surfing has become extremely important to the tourism industry and the wider economy while also embedding itself in Fiji’s culture as one of the most popular sports in the country.
Fiji’s respect for the sport due to its historical ties to Polynesian culture, coupled with the importance of surfing and coastal activities to the tourist economy, means Fiji does not have localism issues like some other popular surfing destinations.
Just remember to always remain polite and friendly while respecting the spaces of other surfers when visiting Fiji, and it is more than likely that many a local will treat you to a secluded surfing spot or popular hangout!
3. Are There Surf Camps In Fiji?
Unsurprisingly, following the construction and success of Tavarua Island Resort, many resorts and camps have capitalized on Fiji’s location and swell to offer package deals to international tourists through surf camps across the country.
One of the best features of Fijian surf camps is they help construct an itinerary that allows you to explore the archipelago with the assistance of local guides while also partnering with travel agencies to assist tourists arriving in Fiji in the first place.
The importance of these partnerships cannot be understated, as flights to Fiji’s Nadi International Airport can be expensive and difficult to arrange from many parts of the world due to its secluded location.
However, flights from Australia and/or New Zealand into Nadi International Airport tend to be affordable and easier to navigate than most other countries. Therefore surfing packages in conjunction with trips to these neighboring countries is recommended!
Surfing camps are also safe resorts to attend without having to worry about theft or burglaries, which have been recorded in some parts of Fiji where petty criminals may opt to take advantage of tourists who don’t have their wits about them or the assistance of local guides to assist them.
Surfing camps are also a fantastic option for new surfers looking to integrate themselves into a new surfing environment while also having the ease of lessons, guidance, accommodation, and equipment rental all in one place.
This is particularly important, as even for intermediate surfers, Fiji’s waters can be difficult to navigate and paddle without the assistance of a local guide or a boat to help tug them out into the best swells.
Surf camps are also a fantastic way to meet like-minded people, both locally and internationally, with which to spend time at the camp, out on the surf, or traveling around Fiji’s many islands!
Surf camps are particularly useful for new-time surfers or travelers to Fiji, as navigating the islands with surfing equipment can prove to be a costly and difficult affair, whereby surfing camps will assist surfers with guided tours and transport.
Just bear in mind the nature and vibe of each surf camp before booking your stay, as some are centered around children and teenagers, while others are more (or strictly) adult orientated.
Furthermore, surf camps usually organize their booking slots relative to bulk days rather than individual days. Therefore, you should reach out to the surf camps in advance to make sure you can book days that fit into your itinerary.
Which Are The Best Surf Spots In Fiji?
Stretching over 700 miles, Fiji has a decently sized coastline given the country’s structure as an archipelago. Consequently, there are literally hundreds of surf spots to enjoy during your stay in Fiji.
While it isn’t possible to list them all, especially since the locals keep many of the best surf spots a secret, let’s look at six of the best and most well-known surf spots across Fiji:
Situated in the Mamanuca Island Group, south of Namotu Island, is Cloudbreak.
Often cited in the top ten most challenging waves in the world, cloud break is world-famous for its powerful waves and swells that exceed twenty feet in the right conditions.
With its left-handed reef break, coral surroundings, and accessibility only via boat, Cloudbreak is an exciting, unpredictable, and challenging surf sport that should only be attempted by advanced and professional surfers.
Not far from Cloudbreak and situated off the sharp coral reef to the west of Tavarua Island is the slightly more forgiving Restaurants.
While not as famous as Cloudbreak, the little brother to one of the most challenging surf spots in the world also packs quite a punch. Known for its perfectly shaped tubular left-handers, Restaurants is considered by some to be an “aquatic surf park.”
With waves ranging between three to eight feet in height, the consistent swell delivers lengths between 50 and 150 meters, which experienced surfers, should be able to ride for upward of fifteen seconds in the right conditions.
Although still suited for more advanced surfers, intermediate surfers can also experience Restaurants on quieter days but should do so with the assistance of a local guide.
While Cloudbreak and Restaurants are both prime examples of why Fiji is considered a favorite destination for advanced surfers, Natadola is an example of Fiji’s versatility.
Situated along the Coral Coast on the inside of Natadola Bay, this spot is perfect for new or beginner surfers, many of which can acquire assistance from local surfers, surf schools, or surf camps found along the Coral Coast.
These calm waters break over sandy rocks rather than the sharp coral reefs of other sites, meaning that beginner surfers don’t have to feel intimidated by the hazards and powerful waves present at some of Fiji’s more popular surfing spots.
Furthermore, just outside of Natadola Bay is Resort Lefts. This reef peak is known for slightly larger swells during high tide, which is perfect for longboarders, meaning that you can swiftly join mixed ability groups once mastering Natadola.
4. Swimming Pools
Sticking with the theme of surfing destinations for the benefit of mixed ability surfers, we have Swimming Pools situated just a few hundred meters from the Namotu Island Resort.
With the moniker of Swimming Pools, this surf sport gets its name from its crystal blue colors and laid-back attitude that promotes taking it easy and relaxing.
That being said, the swell during mid to high tide can pick up and produce waves more suited for intermediate to advanced surfers.
Known for its quick and powerful right-handers, Swimming Pools offers various waves to suit surfers of all styles and experience levels. Just make sure to time your visit accordingly to experience this surfing spot to your desired skill level.
5. Wilkes Pass
Sometimes likened to South Africa’s legendary Jeffrey’s Bay, Wilkes Pass is an open-ocean reef approximately one kilometer north of Namotu Island off the coast of the Mamanuca Islands.
Known for producing powerful right-handers that suit the experience levels of all surfers (although some conditions can produce swells upwards of ten feet), Wilkes Pass is known for producing sections of speed and long rides.
While it is necessary to take a boat from Namotu Island to reach this secluded surfing spot, it is a must-visit for surfers of all abilities.
Finalizing our list is another surf break situated off the coast of the Mamanuca Islands; we find Desperations.
Known for producing both left and right peaks, Desperations is considered one of the most reliable and consistent surfing spots in Fiji, even when other spots at the Mamanuca Islands may be flat or choppy.
With its fast hollows that are typically a bit larger than its nearby breaks, Desperations is one of the best surfing destinations in Fiji for locals and tourists of all skill levels throughout the year.
With its varied coastlines and seasonal swell conditions, Fiji deserves its title as one of the world’s best surfing destinations. It is a must-visit for beginner, intermediate, and advanced surfers alike!