Surfing in the South Pacific

World-class breaks, secluded locations and stunning tropical scenery are just some of the advantages that make catching a wave in the South Pacific such an awesome experience. Fiji’s powerhouse breaks provide a world-class challenge for more seasoned surfers, but there are some good opportunities in lesser-known surf destinations such as Norfolk Island.


The magnificent barrier reefs fringing Fiji’s islands create challenging surf conditions, as powerful ocean swells sweep through the reef passes. It’s not for the faint-hearted but experienced surfers will get plenty of chance to test their skills.

Many inbound surfers head straight for Fiji’s Mamanuca group off Viti Levu’s western coast. This idyllic region is a surfer’s nirvana with warm turquoise waters, dazzling white sand beaches and offshore, some of the Pacific’s best breaks. Top of the list is the infamous Cloudbreak. Ever since Bruce Brown captured its awe-inspiring power in the surfing doco Endless Summer 2, this fast left-hand reef break has become a magnet for thrill-seekers the world over. These days, Tavarua resort has exclusive rights to Cloudbreak (and the neighbouring Restaurants break), but you can always head for Wilkes Passage, a world-class righthander that's just next door.

Those seeking surfing thrills on a budget can check out Frigates Passage, a left-hander off Beqa Island with a growing reputation for big barrels and long rides. It's been dubbed the Fijian Pipeline and, on a good day, you can surf for up to 300m. Surf Frigates from Waidroka Bay Resort, a unique boutique surf and dive resort. South of Beqa, off the southerwestern tip of Kadavu, lies Nagigia Island – another of Fiji’s surfing hot spots. Its boomerang-shaped barrier reef curves around for 270º, picking up winds and swell from several directions. The island sits in the shadow of Kadavu’s Mt Nabukelevuira, where parts of the original 1935 King Kong movie were filmed. Today, the legendary ape has bequeathed its name to two of the island’s five breaks. Intermediate surfers can get to grips with King Kong Left, while more advanced surfers can tackle the powerful King Kong Right, a fast tube that makes for an exciting ride.

When the surf’s flat or you fancy a change of pace, there’s still plenty to do, from village visits to snorkelling, fishing and diving. Island hopping is a good option for exploring those pristine coral atolls, or take a sunset cruise and kick back with a tropical cocktail. It’s the perfect way to make new friends and experience some of that famous Fijian hospitality.

Fiji Surf Resorts
  • Waidroka Bay Resort (Coral Coast), Post Office Box 323, Pacific Harbour, phone (679) 3304605, fax 330 4383,  
  • Nagigia Island (off Kadavu Island), PO Box 12, Vunisea, Kadavu Island, phone (679) 600 3051, fax 600 3052, 
  • Seashell@Momi, PO Box 9530, Nadi Airport, phone (679) 670 6100, fax (679) 670 6094

Norfolk Island

With its rugged coastline pounded by ocean breakers, Norfolk is probably best known as a former convict settlement. Once feared as the harshest penal settlement in the world, it was the final resting place of some of Australia’s most hardened convicts. After the prison’s closure, descendants of the infamous Bounty mutineers settled on this beautiful island, contributing to its colourful history and heritage.

The surprise is there’s good surfing here, with the added advantage that it’s just a short flight (1hr 40min) from New Zealand. The west, east and southern sides all have good breaks, with consistent swells rolling in over the island’s volcanic rock and coral reefs. The long peeling walls provide plenty of challenge, and best of all, there are no crowds. The island’s incredible scenery, with its historic prison ruins and craggy cliff faces, is another bonus for surfers. Jasons Norfolk Island Visitor Map has the key surf breaks marked – check out Slaughter Bay and Cemetery Bay on the south coast near the Kingston Vale prison ruins, Ball Bay in the East and Anson Bay on the west coast.

Off the water, there’s a whole host of activities to enjoy, from glass bottom boat tours and diving trips to view the island’s stunning coral reef and marinelife, to birdwatching tours and hiking in Norfolk National Park. Or take part in one of the local fish fries or progressive dinners and get to experience the famous local hospitality firsthand. 

South Pacific Surfing Fact file

  • In Fiji, the rights to some of the reefs are owned by local villages, so if you’re surfing independently, you’ll need to ask for permission. Some resorts have also bought exclusive surfing rights and you will need to stay at those resorts to access the breaks.
  • Norfolk Island has a local Boardriders association – Norfolk Tourism on Taylor’s Road in Burnt Pine can put you in touch with them.
  • If you’re bringing your own board, check with your airline carrier for baggage restrictions and excess costs. In Fiji, local airlines need advance warning to carry surfboards.

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