Bula Vinaka – Fijian sailing diaries

Bula Vinaka! This is how Fijian people welcome you on their islands with a big smile on their face. It’s hard to believe that less than 200 years ago this population of kind people were eating each other! Luckily, the arrival of missionaries stopped this era of cannibalism. Today Fiji is a long way from its, sometimes, brutal past.

We are still alive though: no arm missing, no human bbq, few sharks spotted, some reef cuts, quite a few broken boards, world-class waves, a lot of laughter, many shooting stars, and heaps of dreams coming true.

We boarded on Fantasea, our sailing boat for the next week, feeling a bit like pirates when the sail raised and our journey began. The cross from Nadi to Mamanucas took a couple of hours. It is not so long, probably way faster with a speedboat, but we enjoyed the scenery, felt the wind caring our hair and we slowly reached one the of every surfer dream waves: Cloudbreak.

Cloudbreak, Cloudy as locals call it, is one of the 10 Best/Most challenging waves in the world. It’s fast, shallow and hollow. It breaks in the middle of nowhere, in an outer reef recognisable just from a wooden tower that was built right in front of the wave, for spectators (arriving by boat on high tide only) who would like to see the show. Cloudy is sketchy, charming and perfect at the same time.

When we arrived the swell was still small (1-2 ft means head high there), the waves were fun, the water crystal clear, turtles and colourful fish swam around us all day.

The wind was still on. The trade winds are quite disturbing and strong during the surfing season here. The waves are very exposed, but if you are lucky and the wind swings in the right direction, then you will score.

We spent quite a few days in Cloudbreak, the swell was picking up slowly, which meant more challenging sessions, day after day.

On my fourth session, I ended up with a broken board and a black eye from the hit. Time for me to enjoy the show and watch the guys scoring probably the biggest waves of their life. We surfed many more waves on the rest of the trip. The area of Mamanucas includes other fantastic breaks as Restaurants, Swimming Pools, Wilkes, Tavarua Right, Namotu Left and Desperation. The distance from one wave to the other is short, the reef is always sharp, the water always clear and the underwater world always alive.

I hope to have made you dream a bit. So, here are some personal tips to make the best of your trip:

  • Get on a boat and enjoy the sailor life. You can get off in some islands, which are not completely private, but being in the water is the best way to move around. We sailed on Fantasea and had a great time!
  • Find a good crew. Sharing a boat can be tough if you are doing it with the wrong persons. Find a group of friends with your same surfing level and depart for the trip of your dreams. Our crew was very mixed and we had the best time! We were 2 Italians, 2 Argentinian, 1 German, 1 Swedish, 1 Hawaiian and 1 Hungarian.
  • Pamper yourself with a bit of relaxation in one of the amazing resorts of the archipelago. My personal favourite: Six Senses Fiji
  • Try Kava. This is a unique and traditional Fijian experience. The drink itself is special, but even more special is the ritual ceremony that it involves.
  • Explore the next level of tastes with the local cousin. My favourite: Kokoda (Fiji’s version of ceviche, enriched with coconut milk)
  • Interact with people: Fijian people are amazing, they always smile and really want to be your friends. They all speak really good English, and they love to share moments and experiences!
  • Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance, better safe than sorry!

 

Hit me up for more info about my Fiji trip!

Photos by Balint Hambalko