By: Mikael and Thrillism
10 minute read
Last updated June 5th, 2020
Known for its rugged landscapes, palm-fringed beaches, and colorful coral reefs, Fiji is one of those places that anyone would be lucky to visit. But this isn’t all that Fiji is known for… it’s also the place to be if catching the perfect wave is on your bucket list.
Surfing in Fiji means that you’ll get to enjoy picture-perfect barrels that are almost too pretty to surf. Surfers feel a high just looking at the pounding waves crash towards the shore, and this high only builds as they paddle out and wait for the perfect wave.
Understanding how the waves behave here is crucial before you hop on a board, especially if you’re new to the water sport. This guide will not only help you to fully understand Fiji surfing but also give you a complete rundown to visiting the awe-inspiring island chain.
Since Fiji is located in the middle of the South Pacific, getting here can feel like quite the mission. But every second of that long-haul flight is worth it. A lot of travelers connect through New Zealand or Australia since the flights from here are 3 to 4 hours, but there are also some direct flights from Los Angeles.
Chances are you’ll fly into Nadi International Airport located on Viti Levu, but there are other domestic airports throughout the archipelago if you have another island in mind. It’s also possible to get here by cruise ship, which typically makes a stop in the capital city of Suva.
Although Fiji is paradise here on Earth, it’s still a good idea to know what you’re getting into. These quick facts will help you plan every detail of your surfing trip down to a T.
There are a few things to consider when it comes to the best visiting time – like weather, tourism, and of course, surf conditions. The busiest time to visit is between July and August (this is the winter holiday for Australians and Kiwis), so this means lots of crowds and pricier accommodations.
Christmas and New Year’s is also busy, so if you’re looking for a peaceful and relaxing surf holiday, try for the off-season months (February to March, June, and October to November). For surfing Fiji, there’s no bad time to visit, but the best waves happen from November to March.
This is also the wet season, so if you’re keen on surfing the best waves, you also have to be OK with the idea of potential rain and strong winds. The perk of visiting during the wet season (aside from big waves) is fewer crowds.
All the Fijian islands use Type I plugs that run on a voltage of 240V. If you’re coming from Australia or New Zealand, you won’t need an adapter, but most other travelers do. Hint: look for a universal travel adapter that works everywhere and comes with surge protection.
Just as you might expect from a remote island chain, the internet can be spotty here. It’s definitely possible to get a solid connection, especially at hotels and resorts on the main tourist islands, but the more remote islands won’t be as easy. If you stick to the tourist surfing trail, though, you shouldn’t have a problem staying connected.
Generally speaking, the main tourist spots of Nadi and Suva have tap water that is safe to drink – keyword here being generally. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and there’s no reason to spoil your entire trip, so just assume that all the water is unsafe to drink and opt for bottled or filtered water provided by your resort/hotel/surf camp instead.
Some nationalities have to obtain a visa for Fiji before visiting, but currently, 107 countries are exempt from this rule. Some exempt countries include the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and all EU citizens. If you’re from one of the exemptions, you won’t need a visa and you can visit for up to 4 months.
Even if you paid for the entirety of your Fiji surf trip by card, it’s still a wise idea to carry around a bit of cash. You should have no trouble paying with credit or debit, but you can avoid annoying international fees from your bank by withdrawing cash from one of the many ATMs.
The official currency in Fiji is the Fijian dollar, (FJ$) which is equivalent to about 0.43 USD. So 10 FJ$ equals 4.3 USD, 100 FJ$ equals 43 USD and 1,000 FJ$ equals 430 USD.
Fiji has both public and private healthcare, and it’s no surprise that the standard of care is higher in private facilities. The best private hospitals and clinics are on Suva and Nadi, but they’re still pretty limited compared to the healthcare systems of Australia and New Zealand.
As long as you travel with some common sense, Fiji is a very safe place. But like anywhere in the world, these islands aren’t completely immune to crime. If you’re in a big city like Nadi or Suva, don’t walk around alone at night – catch a cab instead.
If you’re walking around in the evening, you might notice the occasional local asking if you want to buy weed. Your answer should always be no – even if you’re tempted. The beachy island vibe might seem like the perfect environment to get high on the beach, but it’s still illegal here.
Fiji covers nearly 1.3 million square kilometers of the Pacific, so getting around might seem like a hassle. The good news is that it’s actually not, and even though these islands span a huge distance, they’re very well connected.
If you’re staying on one of the larger islands of Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, or Taveuni, it’s easy to hop on a cheap bus or hire a private shuttle throughout the island. But to see the more remote islands of Fiji, you’ll either need to catch a domestic flight or take a boat. The one you choose depends on how far your final destination is.
Pacific Sun airline dominates the domestic flight network of Fiji, so as you board you might be a little surprised to see that all of their planes are small twin propellers. If you’re nervous to fly on a tiny plane in the middle of the South Pacific, don’t be. This airline is reliable, not to mention it’s easy to find cheap flights to most islands.
Another option is to travel by water on either a passenger ferry or cargo boat. This is the cheaper way to go, but it’s also much more time-consuming.
Fiji surfing trips vary drastically in cost depending on each traveler’s budget and spending habits. Similar to the Maldives, this is not considered a budget-friendly destination. It’s possible to find shared dorms throughout Viti Levu, which typically start around 20 USD per night.
Private rooms typically start at 60 USD, while luxury accommodations start around 150 USD. That said, traveling to Fiji on a budget is possible. It just takes careful planning and a bit of self-control
Deciding on your surf spot of choice will likely be the hardest part of the planning process. If you’re comfortable with your skills and looking for an intermediate surf spot, check out the Mamanuca Islands. There are a few world-recognized reef breaks here – like Cloudbreak – plus they’re easily accessible from Nadi airport.
Another popular Fiji surfing spot is the Coral Coast, which runs along the southern side of Vitu Levu. This area caters to all surfing levels, especially beginners since it’s home to more beach breaks and not just reef breaks. For big waves, check out the Pacific Harbour of Viti Levu (AKA the “adventure capital” of Fiji).
Advanced surfers often find themselves on a more off-the-beaten-track rather than just staying in Viti Levu. This includes the Kavavu group of islands, which is the perfect place to mix it up and try a variety of lefts and rights. Surfing Taveuni (Fiji’s third-largest island) is also popular among the pro-level crowd.
For where to stay in each of these places, we’ve covered the best surf camps and surfing resorts Fiji has to offer in each one below.
Tons of travelers decide to stay on Viti Levu, but if you want the ultimate getaway, your better off heading to the smaller island of Qamea. This off-the-beaten-track northern Fiji destination is as good as it gets when it comes to scenery, adventure, and waves. And the best spot to learn or practice surfing on Qamea is the Maqai Beach Eco Resort.
“Maqai Beach Eco Surf Resort is a must-see and do, “off the beaten track” Northern Fiji holiday destination for couples, families and those that love adventure.”
– Maqai Beach Eco Resort
This eco-resort has a few packages to choose from, but the most popular is the 7-Night Ultimate Surfer. This is for intermediate and advanced surfers who just need some guidance on where to go, so if you’re a beginner you’ll be better off with the Maqai 5-Night Learner package.
This next one is a surfing and diving resort located in the Pacific Harbour area of Viti Levu. The focus at Waidroka is on health and wellness paired with island adventure. The resort has its own bar and restaurant as well as a fleet of boats for surfing and diving. Guests have tons of opportunities to surf, dive, snorkel, take a yoga class, or just hang out on the beach.
“Waidroka Bay Surf & Dive Resort offers amazing Fiji diving & surfing adventures…Surf Fiji’s best UNCROWDED SURF BREAKS, led by the famous FRIGATES PASSAGE, for the ultimate FIJI SURF EXPERIENCE.”
– Waidroka Bay Surf Resort
Matanivusi is another surfing resort Fiji near the Pacific Harbour. This eco-friendly stay is all about sustainability and providing guests with an unforgettable experience. It’s surrounded by the concepts of surfing and seclusion as well as satisfaction and service. The beachfront resort is a great spot for families, couples, or solo surfers.
“Kick off your shoes as you won’t need them on the above-ground walkways from your bure to the restaurant/games area and you definitely won’t need them to walk the few steps to your beach lounging area.”
– Matanivusi Surf Resort
This place was founded over a decade ago by an avid surfing couple who hold a passion for eco-friendliness. The entire plan for Matanivusi was to create a place that would have little negative impact on the Earth, but a major positive impact on guests. And that’s exactly what this resort has accomplished.
Endless Summer offers surf camps all over the world, the tour provider’s Fiji Surf Yoga Camp is hard to beat. It’s 11 days of pure bliss with accommodations nestled in the beachside paradise of the Coral Coast. Aside from surfing, you’ll spend your time practicing yoga, paddle boarding, and hanging out under coconut trees.
“You set the pace of your trip and Endless Summer Fiji will create the best options to ensure the most amazing time possible in Fiji.”
– Endless Summer Fiji
Here’s what the surf yoga retreat package includes: 10 nights accommodation along the Coral Coast, daily yoga classes at low tide, 1 SUP lesson, daily surf lessons with certified and experienced surf instructors, a shark snorkeling tour, gear rental, and daily breakfast. For what you pay, it’s a pretty sweet deal.
Similar to Endless Summer, Nomad Surfers is a powerhouse when it comes to worldwide surf retreats. The provider offers a surf camp Fiji option in the Mamanuca Islands. Even though it’s not located directly on Viti Levu, it’s easy to get here from the Nadi airport (about 40 minutes in total to get from the airport to the surf camp).
The best part of this surf camp is that it’s located directly in front of the Cloudbreak surf spot. If you’re a true surfer, you probably already know all about this break. It’s a legendary left-hander tube and has been considered one of the best breaks in the world. There’s a mix of shared and private rooms here, all just steps from the water.
Traveling to Fiji is all about adventure, so it’s important to pack as if you’re about to embark on one. With its blue skies and golden beaches, you’ll obviously want to bring plenty of sun protection – hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, zinc, rashguard, etc. Insect repellent is also a must.
Aside from lightweight clothing that’s fit for the tropics, bring along a comfy pair of walking shoes (or hiking boots), snorkeling gear and reef shoes, and your surf essentials. A lot of surfers are on the fence about bringing their own boards to the islands, but it’s a good idea that you do. The surf can be rough here, so to perform your best you’ll want to use the gear that you’re used to.
There are two main staples to the local Fijian diet: fish and root veggies. These ingredients might sound a bit boring, but the people here have figured out how to craft a mouthwatering meal using local ingredients and creativity.
Lovo: Lovo is a traditional meal that is cooked to perfection in an underground oven (which is basically just a pit). It combines meats like chicken and fish with root veggies laid on top wrapped in a banana leaf.
Kokoda: If you’re not into raw fish, move on. This raw fish dish is the Fijian take on ceviche with a variety of fish meats soaked in lemon and lime juice, mixed with onion, chilis, capsicum, and tomatoes. It’s all soaked in coconut milk to level out the spiciness.
Fijian Curry: With Fiji’s high population of Indians, it makes sense that curry is one of the main dishes. The curries here are made with coconut milk rather than heavy cream and they’re usually made with tomatoes and plantains.
There’s a good chance that your Fiji surf camp will serve all of your meals, but it’s not a bad idea to venture out to nearby restaurants every once in a while. Here are a few of the favorites on the island of Viti Levu:
Eden Bistro & Bar: This quaint bistro is located in Fiji’s capital and it attracts both locals and tourists. The colorful decor is a nice touch, but the real draw is the Fijian flavors and high-grade Australian meats.
Levuka: Levuka is also located in Suva, but this one is catered more towards fine dining. The food is gourmet and the pretty view overlooks the Suva Harbour.
Daikoku: Fijian cuisine is hugely inspired by Japanese culture. For visitors who are in the mood to go all out with the Japanese customs and cuisine that has influence how locals eat, visit Daikoku in Nadi.
No matter how much you want to, surfing isn’t the only way you should spend your time in Fiji. Sure, it can be a big part of your itinerary, but for a more authentic experience, add these activities to your bucket list as well:
Enjoy the Beaches of Coral Coast: This is one of the best places to just chill out on the beaches of Viti Levu.
Go for a Hike in the Yasawas: The Yasawas are a chain of 20 islands filled with volcanic peaks and blue lagoons. It’s a great spot for hiking and can be accessed by seaplane from Nadi.
Watch a Firewalking Ceremony: The practice of firewalking is a local tradition, so prepare to be astonished as you watch a Fijian walk across piping hot coals without getting burned.
Visit the Fiji Museum: Although it might not be your cup of tea, visiting a museum is a great way to learn about a country’s history. A trip to Suva’s Fiji Museum is no exception.
For beginner-level surfing on the main island, Sigatoka is one of the best spots. It’s only about an hour from Nadi, and the small waves and gentle sand bottoms here make it a great place to learn. Natadola is even closer to Nadi and it offers the same forgiving conditions.
The calmest waters and gentlest waves happen from November to February, making this a great time for beginners to learn. In March, the conditions start to kick into gear and the waves continue to grow and swells continue to get stronger all the way through August. The waves die down in September and October, and then the cycle starts all over in November.