In the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji lies one of the most sought after left-hand barrels in the world. Cloudbreak (aka Thunder Cloud Reef) is a tropical reef break surrounded by a volcanic archipelago that until recently was under the exclusive control of Tavarua Island Resort. For more than two decades the wave was off limits to anyone who couldn’t afford the price tag of staying at the resort, with even local Fijian surfers denied access. But that all changed in 2010 when the Fijian Government revoked Tavarua Island Resort’s exclusive rights – opening Cloudbreak and neighbouring wave Restaurants to anyone with a boat to get there.
Cloudbreak and Restaurants aren’t the only waves out in the Mamanucas – there’s Tavarua Rights, Swimming Pools, Namotu Left, Wilkes Pass and Desperations. As a beginner surfer, I was in no position to be taking on any of the breaks out there (except for Kiddie Land – a baby wave on the far inside of Restaurants), but that wasn’t going to stop me from seeing some of the best waves in the world. So before sunrise one morning, we chartered a boat from Likuliku Lagoon Resort on Malolo Island to see Fiji’s most famous surf breaks.
On the boat on the way out there, we were treated to one of the most spectacular sunrises I’d ever seen. Never before had I seen the moon and the sun together in the sky at the same time. To the right of us the moon was setting and to the left of us the sun was coming up, lighting the sky in an incredible kaleidoscope of colour that got more epic by the minute.
Cloudbreak was relatively small and quiet the morning we were there with only a few boats bobbing around. But with the 2014 Fiji Pro starting a few weeks later as part of the ASP World Championship Tour, that was all about to change. After two lay days the competition finally kicked off with Sally Fitzgibbons taking out the women’s and Gabriel Medina winning the men’s.
Tavauna Island Resort and Namotu Island Resort are the closest and most popular accommodation options for surf trips, but there are a few other nearby islands that you can use as your base. We stayed at Likuliku Lagoon Resort on Malolo Island, which we have heard is the go-to resort for honeymooning couples that want to mix a few days surfing in amongst their luxury vacay. We arrived back at the resort starving and inhaled Likuliku’s signature mud crab omelettes, which I imagine would be even more delicious after a morning surf.
Photography by Michaela Skovranova (the epic ones :P) and myself.