The surf at Frigates Reef
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
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
here for the 6-days swell forecast for the Pacific Ocean.
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.
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.
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.
Just click here to see some flawless
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
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.