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Northcore

Stormrider Guide to surfing Kadavu Passage

Fiji, PACIFIC OCEAN


Frigates, YEP

Summary

+ Powerful and consistent - Big and windy in winter
+ Quality tubular lefts - Rare summer righthanders
+ Warm Bula spirit - Heavy rain
+ Resort crowd, few locals - Outboard access only

The southern coast of Fiji is dominated by a fringing reef, bringing the surf much closer to the white sand beaches of the resort studded Coral Coast. Powerful waves come surging in from deep water, hitting shallow reef ledges that unfortunately, are very exposed to the strong trade winds that buffet this coast. In order to find offshore conditions requires more long journeys in boats out to Frigates Pass or else an island-hopper flight to Kadavu Island where the contorted reef offers a selection of waves for all wind directions.

When to Go

This southern region receives all the same swells as outlined in the Mamanucas zone and in fact it has far better exposure to the residual SE swells. The SE trade winds mean most reliable Kadavu Passage spots are lefts as the occasional rights get fully blown out by the 15-25kph trades. Summer swell size drops from Dec-March, the main season for N-NE winds that favour the rights, but the E-SE breezes still blow for over 70% of the time. In winter, the surf can get pretty intimidating at exposed spots. Surprisingly for this latitude, spring tides reach 2.5m, affecting both reef and boat movements.

Surf Spots

A 500m paddle from the resortÕs sun-loungers are HideawayÕs fast, pinchy rights, where guests hope the winds are N, the tide is high and the swell is not too big. The SE trades cause havoc along this stretch where kiters will get more joy at the reef channels and lagoons. Beachouse rights gather speed and suckiness as the water drains off the high tide only reef and itÕs usually smaller than surrounding spots until it implodes at 6-8ft. Surf school on the inside reforms. Vunaniu pass has the larger outside peak at Shifties for powerful, pushy, refracting walls encouraging big wrapping cutties, or smaller inside Jays, an out and out experts barrel when thereÕs more W in the swell and wind. Across the channel Black Rock offers more high-octane ledgy rights. Pipes lives up to its name when a moderate SSE swell hits the bend of reef, sucks hard and throws lip for some pedal-to-the-metal tube rides. Improver-friendly Waidroka Lefts peak up in deeper water, where the steep-sloped take-offs lead to a hollow bowl before shouldering off. Serua Rights can be a long ride from the angled roll-in through the middle cutback shoulders to the sucky backdoor section as it hits the shallow inside reef. World-class Frigates boasts thick, bowly, fast, wrapping, hollow walls over a mid-ocean barrier reef for experienced surfers, staying at camps on Yanutha Island. Wind can chop up the face making the easy roll-in much harder and high tide will cover the dredgy inside section, adding to a long, long ride. ThereÕs a surprisingly decent right called Lighthouse at the entrance to Suva Harbour, a few minutes boat ride from the Suva yacht club. Fly to Vunisea on Kadavu Island then take a 45min boat ride to Nagigia Island. King Kong Left hits a notch in the otherwise straight fringing reef and wedges up a horseshoe peak that quickly opens up and barrels, before backing off then pitching again on the shallow inside. The fast, gnarly King Kong Right picks up a lot of swell, but itÕs usually blown out in the SE trades. Daku sees a split peak over a reef closer to the beach with fun rights and a few lefts in the morning before the wind gets up. If there is a N wind and a SE-S swell, pay for a long boat ride to Uatotoka, a superb right with long, makeable barrels. The left at Vesi needs rare NW winds and some wrapping SW swell. Typhoon Alley faces SE, so it only breaks occasionally, when the wind comes from the N to W quadrant.

Statistics

J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
dominant swell SE -SW SE -SW SE -SW SE -SW SE -SW SE -SW
swell size (ft) 3 5-6 6 7-8 7 2-3
consistency (%) 60 80 70 50 70 60
dominant wind NE -SE NE -SE E -SE E -SE E -SE E -SE
average force F4 F3-F4 F4 F4 F4 F4
consistency (%) 63 72 64 62 73 67
water temp (C) 28 27 26 25 25 26
wetsuit boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts

Travel Information

Weather
The cool dry months from May to October provide the best weather, but swells and winds are the wildest. In July and August, temps may drop to 18¡C (64¡F). Spells of cloudy, cool weather with occasional rains alternate with warm, sunny, humid days. The hot, wet season starts in November, but the stifling days are Jan-March. In winter, take a bit of thin neoprene for the windchill.

Lodging and Food
Matanivusi Eco Surf Resort at Vunanui fr. $2100/wk full board. Waidroka Bay starts from $170/dbl/n and surf boat cost $45p/p/ to local break or $70p/p Frigates. There are budget dorms from $15/n; doubles in ÔburesÕ average $50. A meal plan, accommodation and transport to the surf will be at least $100/day. On Yanutha Island, Batiluva does all inclusive with great food and 1 daily trip to Frigates from $85/p/n. Naninya Island Resort (Nagigia) $165/n + $10 for each boat trip.

Nature and Culture
Beqa is Fiji diving spot #1 for pelagics and Kadavu Astrolabe Reef and Nagigia Island is world-class diving and fishing. Kava ceremonies with music and Meke dance and the fire walkers are a must.

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