Fiji has long been a surfers dream destination and for very good reason. A tropical wave-rich paradise consisting of more than 320 islands with no shortage of world-class breaks both on and off the beaten track. Friendly locals, year around waves, and an average water temperature of 26c make it obvious why Fiji has been the South Pacific’s stand out surf destination for decades. Fiji is an absolute swell magnet and offers up something for everyone–from massive barrels to punchy “skatepark-esque” reef breaks. The landscapes here consist of picturesque, postcard perfect coastlines and reefs, as well as volcanic mountains covered in lush greenery, it really is a South Pacific paradise. Fiji’s two largest islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levucontain almost 90% of the countries population and are two major surfing hubs in the country.
Fiji is a major tourist destination, not just for surfers. Therefore costs will be higher than your average island in the middle of the ocean, but facilities, food, and accommodations will all be superior. Locals are generally very friendly, but lineups can get a little competitive with the amount of tourists. Another aspect to keep in mind is that certain resorts will have exclusive access to high quality breaks. Therefore at these spots heavy crowds are not the norm, although the lineups will still be regulated. There really is something fro everyone here, a huge amount of outdoor activities apart from surfing will keep the family busy, and if those run out, relaxing with a drink under the hot sun in tropical paradise isn’t half bad.
The three regions that will be discussed here are the three main areas for quality waves in Fiji. There are other areas, mainly different archipelagos and islands, but they generally receive less quality swell or have less favorable set ups. That being said there are definitely good to great waves depending on conditions in these areas.
This is an archipelago and series of offshore barrier reefs to the Southwest of the main island, and is home to some of the most famous surf breaks in the world. Small islands, high quality resorts, and exceptional waves are what will be found here. Any decent sized SW swell will set this region on fire, and even smaller SE or SW swells in the off season (Southern hemi summer) will turn on the goods with better wind conditions.
Viti Levu (Coral Coast)
This is the main island in Fiji, and is home to most of the country’s population. The South facing coast is where most of the surfing is done, and it is exposed to many of the same swells the Mamanucas region is. The angle of the coastline is not as favorable to the trade winds that blow from May-October, but there are definitely windows of good conditions. The set ups are good, and when on will produce high quality waves. The offseason months are good here, as the wind turns basically offshore or off and SE trade swells sneak in nicely.
Kadavu island is found directly to the South of Viti Levu, and offers up a large amount of weirdly angled reefs, which means something is usually offshore. There are high quality breaks here, although it is lesser known and a bit less perfect than the spots in say the Mamanucas region. This island is less populated than Viti Levu, and facilities can be a bit harder to come by. This coastline is exposed to swell year round, and if you have the patience and a boat you will always be able to find an offshore spot.
Surf Trip Tips
There are a few things to be aware of and plan for before boarding your flight to Fiji. It is important to make sure you have accommodation lined up before arriving. Because this is a massive tourist destination it is common that resorts don’t have availability the day of. Consider the time of year you are going, and the wind patterns that accompany that season, then choose a resort or region that suits that season. Perhaps the most important factor to note is whether or not boat transportation is included in your accommodation price or not. You’ll need a boat to access almost all the spots here, and prices can add up. Make sure you know so you aren’t surprised with an large charge you weren’t prepared for. Because you’ll be spending a lot of time on boats, make sure you pack an abundance of sunscreen and a good hat (or two your mates will thank you).
Access to Fiji
Getting to Fiji
Most getting here will take a flight. It’s very easy if you are coming from Australia or New Zealand. Flights from these areas are cheap and quick. If you are coming from North/South America or Europe flight costs will be significantly higher and flight times longer. Most of these flights come into the main island. From there, depending on the island you are going to, you will hop onto a boat or a smaller shuttle plane. These costs are not too bad, and flight times are short while boat trips can be lengthy.
Surf Spot Access
Once you are where you want to be, getting to the surf is the name of the game. Access to a boat and/or guide is paramount for a successful trip. Almost every spot is only able to be reached by boat, especially the high quality ones. If you make friends with a local that has a boat you are in luck, as day prices can add up. Alternatively your accommodation might have boat transportation to surf spots included in the price, which will generally save you money in the long run.
Surfing in the Mamanucas
The Mamanucas region is the most well known for surf in Fiji. Look forward to world class waves, top end resorts, and of course tropical weather. Most of the breaks here are heaving reef breaks, although there might be a few corners or those less advanced, especially in the off season.
Who to Bring
Bring dedicated and at least intermediate level surfers here. Chances are you’ll be frothing too much to spend too much time with the family on the beach, so a committed surfer is a good companion here. However, if this person cannot thread an overhead barrel consistently they probably shouldn’t be coming.
When to Go for Surf
The Mamanucas, and Fiji in general of course, has a tropical climate year round in terms of air temperature. For surf there are two distinctive seasons: Wet and dry. You can find surf year round but the seasons offer very different conditions.
The dry season runs from May to October. This is peak surf season for the Mamanucas, as the orientation of the island chain picks up the big Southwest swells perfectly, creating massive, heaving, and breathtaking surf. Big days are the norm, make sure you are confident in your surfing ability this time of year. The predominant winds this season are from the Southeast, which are renowned for blowing out the perfect surf by late morning. Get on it early to guarantee a good session. This time of year will also bring the most people, but lineups generally remain manageable.
The wet season lasts from November to April. This season see less groundswell generated, but localized windswell, potential cyclone swell, and long distance Northern groundswell can still deliver the goods. The waves this time of year will be smaller and less consistent than the dry season, but you will still be able to score quality sessions with less people! The weather is still tropical, but daily afternoon showers can be relied upon. The plus for this time of year are the winds, which remain light or glassy throughout the day, making for some long sessions.
It’s the tropics! Water temperature remains almost constant year round, sitting at a balmy 27 degrees. Boardshorts or a bikini will keep you comfortable, and some opt for a wetsuit top mostly for protection from the sharp coral reefs (This is a pro move unless you plan on making every barrel you pull into).
Back in the day, at most reefs resorts claimed exclusive access to the surf. Recently the Fijian government has revoked most of these rights, opening the lineups to whoever has a boat and a board. Therefore lineups are not limited to the number of guests at high end resorts, leading to more crowds than in the past. That being said, show respect to the locals surfing and you will get waves. The lineups, especially when there is good swell in the water, remain doable, although the pros will probably be taking off a lot deeper than you can.
Must Surf Spots
Cloudbreak is one of the best waves in the world when on. Big left hand barreling perfection is what you can expect when arriving here in the dry season when it’s at its best. This spot will handle any swell the Pacific throws its way from 2 foot to 20 foot. Be aware that the lineup can be crowded with pros and the reef isn’t too deep down at all. Cloudbreak can be a tricky wave to surf despite it’s appearance, local knowledge really rules here.
Restaurants is located just in front of the Tavarua Resort. It is comtimes referred to as Cloudbreak’s little brother as it drops the size of the swell by about half compared to Cloudbreak. That being said it is still a machine-like reef that sends lines of swell peeling down with both barreling and performance sections galore.
Surfing on Viti Levu (Coral Coast)
This is the main island in Fiji, and the Southern coastline is exposed to much swell. It is not as much of a swell magnet as the Mamanucas but will offer up almost as high quality waves with much fewer people. There are also more activities here than islands like Tavarua offer. Breaks here are mostly heavy reefs but there are also a couple beginner friendly spots.
Who to Bring
Complete beginners should go elsewhere, but this coast is a good option for beginner/intermediate improvers as well as intermediate and advanced level surfers. Because there is a plethora of non-surf related activities, this is a good destination for the whole family.
When to Go for Surf
The dry season on the Coral Coast, although perhaps the most swell heavy, is not necessarily the most perfect. The tradewinds than can trend offshore elsewhere tend to rip most of the lineups here to shreds. Although there is plenty of groundswell from the Southwest, it can be difficult to find a good break to surf. Make sure to be ready for bigger, potentially imperfect waves but with half or less of the crowds on the Mamanucas. If you get on it very early you might be able to score perfection before the winds pick up.
The wet season often brings the best waves to this area. Winds no longer are a problem, and the coastline is situated very well to pick up the weaker windswells and cyclone swells the South Pacific produces this time of year. Often times the Coral Coast is the ideal area in Fiji to surf during this season. The biggest selling point is that crowds tend to remain low!
Same as Mamanucas, tropical tropical tropical at around 27 degrees. Boardshorts and a bikini are more than enough, wetsuit top for the sharp reef if you are so inclined.
You’ll see more locals on this coast than on certain other island chains, mostly because more Fijians actually live on this island. The vibes are friendly, and because other areas are more well known worldwide there are less crowds. If there are waves at one spot that seems a bit too hectic, there is probably at least one other spot nearby that offers up similar conditions with less people.
Must Surf Spots
This is an offshore reef about 22 km off the Coral Coast. Of course you’ll need a boat to get here, but it is well worth the trip. Frigates puts out peeling left hand barrels more days than not, and get compared to Cloudbreak fairly often. Hollow, heavy waves over shallow, sharp reef are to be expected here, and with half the crowds of Cloudbreak!
This break is found right off of Viti Levu. It offers up, as the name suggests, heaving left hand barrels. It will need a bigger swell to get it going good, but breaks at many sizes. Even with the quality and consistency, it still remains uncrowded compared to the more well known areas. Watch out for sharp reef though!
Surfing in the Kadavu Passage
Kadavu is a less traveled island South of Viti Levu. This is not a hotbed for surf tourism in particular, it’s tourism is generally based on the natural beauty and environment. That being said, there are some incredible lesser known breaks here, comparable to the best on the Coral Coast and the Mamanucas.
Who to Bring
The spots here are almost all exposed, heavy reef breaks. Therefore those looking to surf here should be comfortable in gnarly, shallow, hollow waves. Intermediates and up only. Beginners might have a little bit of luck in the wet season, but even then make sure to choose your days carefully.
When to Go for Surf
The dry season on this coast has the swell exposure of the Mamanucas and the wind exposure of the Coral Coast. You’ll find bigger days common, and it can be difficult to find a break with good wind. However, the coral reefs here are a bit convoluted, and if you have a knowledgeable guide it is possible almost every day to find a good corner of reef to surf. Crowds are not common.
The wet season is a good time to surf here as well. The coast is very exposed to swell, and is angled better than the Mamanucas to pick up windswell and cyclone swell. The slack winds lead to glassy conditions all day, and although the swells are not as big as in the dry season, quality surf is common. Crowds, on the other hand, are not.
No changes from the other two regions. You’re looking at tropical water temperatures around the 27 degree mark. Boardshorts or a bikini an optional wetsuit top for reef concerns.
This area boasts the least crowded lineups out of the three regions we are discussing. Vibes are generally welcoming toward outsiders in the water. There aren’t many locals here surfing, and there are fewer resorts than on the Coral Coast or the Mamanucas. There are always waves to go around in the consistent region.
Must Surf Spots
King Kong’s Left and Right
This reef is named after the film King Kong which was filmed on Kadavu! The reef is just as big and bad as it’s namesake. There is a left and right, which both throw out heavy, spitting tubes when the swell arrives. Paddle from shore for about 20 minutes for a warmup, or get on it quick with a boat ride. Crowds are low and waves are good.
This wave is another top quality left hand reef break. You should expect powerful, hollow, and long waves when the conditions line up. Unfortunately this spot is very exposed to the SE trades and therefore less consistent than say Cloudbreak. However if you get it on a day when the wind lines up you are in for the session of a lifetime.
Travel Guide to Fiji
Non Surfing Activities
Fiji Is a tropical paradise with no shortage of activities to keep you busy if the waves are flat. With world-class diving, snorkeling, kitesurfing, and fishing you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied on a lay day. Family and non surfers will find the calm seas around the shores and resorts a perfect place to relax, paddle around, or just float in. Hiking the countries various waterfalls and rain forests are a popular option as well. Most resorts have different packages and tour operators can set you up with any of these activities at a moments notice.
Weather/What to bring
As has been more than hinted at above, Fiji is a tropical paradise year round. Air temperatures rand between 24 and 32 degrees without fail. Pack up anything that doesn’t heat you up but covers skin from the sun. The heat can be brutal here and sunburns are probably a chief medical concern for tourists. Take care of yourself with a good hat or generous amounts of sunscreen. Be aware that if you are visiting during the wet season it will rain (shocker). Most elect to stay indoors during the torrential afternoon rains, but a good waterproof layer is probably an important item to have, especially on crowded boat rides. Other than that pack whatever you’d pack for a tropical island!
For more surf related concerns, pack a good first aid kit (especially disinfectant) for the reef cuts you are likely to accrue. Tropical wax only, everything else will melt off your board quicker than an ice cube on a hot plate. I will repeat sunscreen again, but make sure it is reef safe sunscreen. Most zinc based brands are.
Fiji is a unique place. There are three official languages spoken on the island: Fijian, Hindi, and English. The native population speaks Fijian, those of Indo-Fijian descent speak Hindi, and both groups speak English as their second language. If you speak English you will be more than fine here, especially in tourist areas, but even outside of these spots almost everyone speaks good English.
This is really a larger conversation around Fijian culture, but tipping is not customary. The culture on Fiji is mostly communal, so everything is shared. In lieu of tipping, most resorts/businesses will have a “Staff Christmas Fund” box that will be shared with the entire staff equally. It isn’t necessary or expected to tip individuals, but it is definitely not unwelcome.
The currency in Fiji is the Fijian dollar. It is worth about .47 USD making conversions of that currency very easy to calculate. Some businesses will quote prices in USD, especially those catering to tourists, so make sure you know how much you are paying beforehand. Most will specify by putting FJ$ or US$ with the amount.
There are two main cell service providers in Fiji: Vodafone and Digicel. Both offer affordable pre paid plans as well as contracts, although the contracts can be a bit long for tourists. We recommend purchasing a phone or sim card from these providers if you want to use data while here. Roaming can add up quickly depending on your domestic plan. Wifi is generally good at the higher end resorts and is becoming more and more commonplace at cafe’s and cheaper accommodations. That being said, it is not always the most reliable and will be next to impossible to find on the more remote islands.
Overview of Expenses
Fiji is a massive tourist destination, therefore as mentioned above prices will be a bit higher than you might expect for an island in the middle of the Pacific. Fiji uses the Fijian dollar, all prices quoted will be in that currency if unspecified.
There is a large range available in most categories you’ll be spending money on. The one area you don’t want to skimp or bargain on are boat charters. As with any destination, traveling with others, cooking, and abstaining from all inclusive resorts can save you some money.
Flight costs are dependent on origin. Coming from Australia or New Zealand you might be looking at 500-900 US$ for a round trip, non stop flight. Coming from the USA you will be spending at least 1000-1300 US$ on a flight with at least one stop. Costs from Europe are comparable to flights from North America.
Boat prices depend on what you are doing. Some will charge per person per day, which usually hits around 250 FJ$ per person per day in a group. If you are going alone the cost per person will be up to around 800 FJ$. Surf charters can range between 3000-10000 US$ per week per person depending on the boat and the amount of people on it. Private surf charters don’t really have an upper limit on price, but expect to pay at least 7000 US$ per person per week. These may or may not include food, water, and beer, make sure to check. These costs can potentially be bundled into the accommodation price depending on where you are staying.
Food isn’t the most expensive here. If you are going out to eat out all meals you could do it for around 40 US$ per day as long as you aren’t going to the most expensive areas. There are high quality dining options around, and if you’d like you can spend a lot more at those. Resorts will generally have food options available and these options could potentially be included in the accommodation cost.
Accommodations range from high end all-inclusive surf camps to budget backpacker-style hostels, Fiji has something to offer for everyone. The Mamanuca Island chain is host to the most private surf resorts and least amount of affordable hostels. Viti Levu will have a larger range of accommodation as will Kadavu island. Prices for resorts can range between 300 and 1000 USD per night depending on location, quality, and inclusions. This is really just an average pricing, there isn’t an upper limit to how much you can spend. Hostels will range between 50 and 100 USD per night, although you might be able to find cheaper on more remote islands. Looking at accommodations it is best to research where you want to go and then look at individual accommodation options in the area, choosing one of these based on price and inclusions.
These are going to be your big expenses, going to Fiji you are going to spend a bit more than other surf destinations. That being said the high quality surf, tropical environment, and amazing culture make the money more than worth it as every surfer who has been will attest to.