Whether you surf or not, taking a vacation to Tavarua Island Resort is one of the best trips on the planet. Tavarua is absolute paradise. The island and surrounding area are absolutely pristine, with crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, white sandy beaches, exotic wildlife, and clean ocean air. The area also holds some of the most perfect surf on the planet.
Fijians and the Tavarua Island staff are some of the kindest people in the world, and will welcome you with open arms and tons of Bula. The entire island experience is incredible, one you will probably cherish for a lifetime. Once you visit Tavarua you become part of the “Fiji family,” because you’re not just a guest when staying on Tavarua; you’re a part of something bigger and more meaningful.
Tavarua Island is located in close proximity to a variety of waves. Each one of these waves has a flavor to suit all surfers of every level. The surf around Tavarua is biggest between March and October, but there is great surf all year round. The winds are predominantly offshore, and typically really light in the summer months. Swells march up the Tasman Sea and run directly into the southwestern region of Fiji, where the island is located.
Tavarua offers quick and easy boat access to all of the surf breaks in the surrounding area, and the boats will run you out and wait for you while you surf, whenever you want.
If you book your trip through WaterWays (surf-trip agents), your taxi will be waiting for you and the driver will be carrying your bags to the Tavarua taxi van before you even step foot out of the airport. The taxi takes you on a one-hour drive through Nadi town on the main island of Viti Levu and out to the coast along a little bumpy dirt road until you reach a little jetty in the mangroves. When you get there, the island’s staff in 30-foot ponga boats will be waiting to greet you. From there you blaze out on the beautiful half-hour boat ride to Tavarua Island.
When you get to the island, the boatmen and staff will carry your bags to your ultra-comfortable bures (individual rooms) and the island is yours. Lunch and drinks will be waiting for you next to the pool on the large deck overlooking the reefs, and boats will begin heading out for surf and fishing excursions.
The food on the island is really good. Served buffet style, dishes feature a variety of freshly caught local seafood as well as all the common favorites, such as pastas, salads, chicken, steak, ribs, eggs, and fruit salad, which all come with rice, fresh tortillas, potatoes, and other flavorful dressings.
There’s one night a week where the entire feast is cooked underground in the traditional Fijian manner, called lovo. Lovo night dinner happens after a wonderful traditional kava ceremony, where the island guests and locals get together to share appreciation for coming together in such an incredible place. After the lovo feast, the local Fijian band puts on a fun and lively traditional song-and-dance show that everyone loves.
Tavarua takes 15 minutes to walk around, and 5 to walk across. Some of the amenities that are really nice on Tavarua Island are the comfortable freestanding bures, tucked into the jungle just off the beach, where you can lounge in your own peace and quiet. When you feel like socializing with the other 40 or so island guests (max occupancy), the giant deck is the ideal hangout spot, complete with waterfall pool, hot tub, restaurant, and bar overlooking some of the most beautiful reefs, waters, and surf on the planet.
You never have to open your wallet or worry about a thing when staying on Tavarua. We call Tavarua “the womb” because you are separated from all of the distractions and decisions that we inundate ourselves with while traveling on most other vacations, and in everyday life. Nothing ever gets stolen on Tavarua, so you never have the safety of your belongings on your mind, which is a vacation in itself. If you want to check in with the real world, the island does have a couple of new computers with Internet access in the main air-conditioned office, but they are rarely used.
Some of my favorite things about staying on Tavarua is hanging in the small “Fiji Camp” village on the back side of the island, where we all play music and drink kava (ceremonial root brew) with the local Fijians all night. Playing on the tennis court, basketball half-court, and mini-halfpipe skateboard ramp that Tony Hawk built are fun island activities to do as well. If you feeling like getting a good workout in, there is a nice little gym and yoga studio on the island, complete with weights, treadmill, and stationary bike. I get my exercise in during multiple surf sessions and spearfishing dives throughout the day, though.
If you want to explore the island, there are really cool tree houses, grave sites, and an interesting variety of jungle wildlife to scope. There are also lots of sea creatures that swim up the back side of the island, like turtles and sea snakes. Sea turtles use the island as a place to nest, so it is common to see babies make their first run to the water across the white sandy beach. Tavarua also offers incredible rod and reel fishing, spearfishing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, diving, snorkeling, and island hopping, as well as trips to town and the villages on the mainland.
The only thing not included in the island’s all-inclusive package deal is booze. If you surf, Tavarua should be on the top of your list. The water is 80 degrees, the air is 80 degrees, and the breeze is consistently offshore and cooling.
The best waves in the area — and the world, for that matter — are located on the reefs outside of Tavarua. The longest boat ride you need to take to any of these waves is 15 minutes from the island. The setups are any surfer’s dream.
The Namotu Left is fun, sometimes hollow, and pretty long. It is a great wave for all surfing abilities.
Swimming Pools is a really good right. The bowl keeps bending on you down the line, allowing you to shred it to pieces.
Wilkes Pass is a really fast down-the-line right that breaks in shallow water. The wave gets hollow and is great for going really fast. Not the best wave for doing cutbacks, but a great wave for going as fast as you want.
Desperations is a series of peaks that break randomly over really shallow coral reefs. They call it Desperations because if it is flat everywhere else, there is usually something to ride out there.
Love Shacks and The Head are not really rideable waves, but if you’re psycho, you can try. They are like suicidal mutant slabs on dry, razor-sharp coral reefs. One of the local boys, Esei, got towed into one wave at The Head, and that was one of the few times it has ever been attempted. Love Shacks is a little more rideable than The Head, but not advised unless you want to kill yourself. Awesome to watch and ponder the possibilities, though.
The Right on Tavarua is really fun, hollow, and, on most days, playful. When it’s over six feet the wave transforms into an incredible stationary power slab that pulls so much water off the reef that it makes it really hard to catch waves. You have to sit under the ledge and just pull in — no other options. The wave barrels really heavy across the shallow ledge, lets up for a second, and then drains out all through the inside. I got one of the best barrels of my life out there. Most days it is really fun, forgiving, and shreddable.
Restaurants is an absolutely perfect wave, and known as one of the best on the planet. It is like a machine. There is no section that ever breaks in front of the other, and it just peels down the line for a couple hundred yards, barreling and standing up the entire way.
Cloudbreak is the jewel of Fiji. It breaks every single day, is sacred to almost all wind directions, and although it is always a left, has more moods than a hot ex-girlfriend. Cloudbreak is my favorite wave on the planet. It offers Hawaiian power with Indonesian perfection and round Tahitian-style barrels. When it’s one foot, it is a perfect barreling wave. When it’s 40 feet, it is a perfect barreling wave. Rides up to approximately 400 yards long are standard, and the longest and heaviest barrel of your life is possible out there every swell. Cloudbreak breaks on a reef in the middle of nowhere, located two miles away from the closest island of Tavarua. It is an anomaly — beautiful reef.
Other than those waves, there are a few rare secrets and novelties that you have to find yourself.
If you have the goods, bring lots of surfboards, a nice dive mask, fins, sunscreen, and a huge smile to share with the locals. If you want to travel ultra light, everything you need can be found either in the island’s boutique or at the “boat shed” borrow bure.
Keep in mind that even though it is not inexpensive to stay on Tavarua, the experience is one of the best you may ever have in your entire life, so it is well worth dropping the dough for the trip. The cost is justified when you get there and realize how incredible a place it really is. Managers and staff ensure the island is always operating at it’s full potential.
I would rather stay one week on Tavarua than a month land-based in Indonesia, South America, or wherever else.
Lastly, if you fly Air Pacific to Fiji, board fees are really reasonable at around $100 per bag, last I checked, and they offer daily non-stop flights from LAX, Hawaii, and Australia.
Tavarua Island Resort Link
Link to a couple of other real short Tavarua reviews on Trip Advisor.
Photos: Scott Winer, Surfer – John Maher