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The surf at Frigates Reef

Click to enlarge (56265 bytes)Click to enlarge (12294 bytes)After a short boat ride from the resort you arrive at Frigates Reef just south of Frigates Pass. Both are named after the Frigate bird which 'surfs' the wind lifting off the waves while hunting for fish.

The reef is similar in size to a football field. Swell can come from anywhere between Southwest, South, and Southeast providing rideable waves nearly every day of the year. It is one of the few breaks in Fiji, even the South Pacific, where it is possible to surf all day, on a high or low tide. Low tide offers a hollower barrel most days than the high tide and is preferred by many surfers. Click here for the 6-days swell forecast for the Pacific Ocean.

Click to enlarge (13655 bytes)Many surfbreaks in Fiji get 'blown out' by the tradewind but not so at Frigates. It is an extremely clean wave even when the tradewind is a stronger breeze because the wave face is protected on the low tide by the exposed reef. Twelve miles out to sea, Frigates has no land mass nearby to upset wind direction or create rainfall. Conditions can be calm and sunny all day even though the mainland is pouring with rain and subject to 'fickle' winds. Click here for the 6am Fiji weather map.Click to enlarge (44532 bytes)

At 3 to 6 feet the wave can swing in close to the main reef or swing wide depending on swell direction and size, offering three surf breaks in one. "Doctor Deep's" is the first section on some sets, nicknamed after any of the strong-hearted who have made it from 50 metres inside of "the Peak", which is the main takeoff for an instant barrel when low tide and shoulder to overhead high. Then "Sidewinder's" is another 50 metres further down from the Peak, allowing some surfers to get into the inside barrels that have swung too wide for those on the Peak or Doctor Deep's. Our resort's 'surfer guides' can familiarise you with where to sit for the best waves.

Click to enlarge (12965 bytes)Current from the incoming tide can make the paddle out easy as it carries you back to the takeoff. The slight current sucks the wave face in and makes the barrel at the takeoff a real rush. On larger swell from double to triple overhead, the wave simply jacks on the blue/green edge of the reef out of hundreds of metres of water depth, then throws out into a tube for experienced surfers to pull into. The low tide is simply amazing to experience.

The power in this wave on a rising swell is awesome and in contrast to the softer smaller days as the swell eases. It truly offers surfers a "different break" each day.

Click to enlarge (33793 bytes)

Just click here to see some flawless perfection.

A typical day at Frigates Reef

November to February/March is often light wind offshore, sometimes staying glassy all day .
March to June is typically light offshore, sometimes blowing stronger in the afternoon.

July to October is usually light offshore tradewind E-SE winds in the morning with the breeze getting slightly stronger and sometimes turning more sideshore SE-SSE through the afternoon. This gives the Peak a slight side chop but it is still extremely surfable. Click to enlarge (25842 bytes)Sidewinders just stays clean all day in the SSE wind.

There are many days when waves are surfed the entire day but by the third day of a trip, many surfers conserve strength on the boat by taking rests and meals in between shorter surfs.

Sometimes a westerly storm can bring rain for a few days so the above information is only a general overview of surfable days.

When to go

Frigates best season is ALL YEAR.

Certainly the most consistent waves come from the Southern Hemisphere winter climate -- May to November. Storms below Australia and New Zealand are surf factories continuing their run after pulsing swell into the Mentawais, Nias, G-land, Ulu Watu, Desert Point, the West Australian coast and then Bell's Beach, and Raglan, to name but a few.

However, Frigates gets some of its biggest, most powerful waves from December through April, from cyclones originating near northern Northern Australia, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and the Coral Sea. This time of year can generally mean longer flat spells at some surfbreaks in Fiji, especially out west, while waiting for these cyclone swells. However Frigates is an extreme south-facing break and only the island of Kadavu, about 60 miles to the south, affects SE swell. Most swell created from the SE tradewind, even December - April, continues to swing around the southern edge of Kadavu, at Nagigia Island, and runs on up to break at Frigates, a perfect direction for top-to-bottom barrels from the Peak.

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