If you’ve ever dreamed about surfing the phenomenon that is Cloudbreak, then you’ll no doubt have searched online for the best places to stay. Having journeyed to Fiji many times over the past two decades I present a few accommodation options that will get you to the reef safely while catering for budgets big and small.
The Cloudbreak region
If you want to surf Cloudbreak then you need to stay nearby. Don’t bother searching Google Maps and thinking “hmmm, that island looks quite close.” It isn’t and locals probably won’t feel comfortable boating you across open ocean to get to a scary reef that breaks in the middle of nowhere. For many of the local Fijians, reefs like Cloudbreak are exactly what you’re taught to avoid. But never fear, there is an entire industry built around getting bodies out to the breaks – and the experience is sublime.
In addition to Cloudbreak you have several other incredibly high-quality waves in close proximity. The only way I can describe it is as a playground for surfers. When Cloudbreak gets big or sketchy, the other breaks wake up and provide all kinds of options, ranging from friendly right-handers at Swimming Pools to endlessly racing left-handers at Restaurants. You’ve also got Tavarua Rights, Wilkes Passage, Desperations and Namotu Lefts.
Fiji is not particularly cheap, especially when compared to Indonesia or even nearby Samoa. Expect to pay prices comparable to New Zealand or Australia. If you want luxury and proximity to Cloudbreak then you’ll be paying a whole lot more. We’ve avoided listing exact prices in this article because they change depending on season and demand. However, we’ll provide some guidance.
Luxury: Tavarua Island Resort
If you don’t think about money when you plan your holidays then there is an easy option: the heart-shaped Tavarua Island Resort. It’s the closest island to Cloudbreak and is completely geared for the surfing experience. You can grab boats out to breaks pretty much on-demand. The buffet is good quality and the accommodation, while rustic compared to a new-ish four star hotel, is perfectly comfortable for a surf trip. Dotted in between immaculately cultivated tropical gardens, you’ll discover ample space between units. Meandering shady pathways lead you to the boats and restaurant area.
Cloudbreak is around 10 minutes away from Tavarua by boat, so you’re likely to be the first one out there each day. You can also do stealth missions in the afternoon, which other boat operators regularly miss. There’s a reason why most of the pros and WSL crew stay here during the Fiji Pro.
The staff are friendly at Tavarua and the resort is suitable for non-surfers, with a pool and massage services available. The reefs around the island are great for snorkelling and standup paddleboarding. There’s also a pretty flash surf shop if you fancy some retail therapy.
The guests seemed to be primarily from the USA. Some were seriously high-level execs and celebrities.
The cool thing with Tavarua Island is that you pay for the entire package, except alcohol. Meals, surf boats, airport transfers and accommodation are all included. Budget around USD $600 per day.
Tavarua operates their own airport bus and boat transfers. You can even get a quote for a helicopter transfer if you like.
To go surfing, just walk to the beach hut and request a boat to wherever you want to go.
How did I feel about the trip: Unforgettable experience. I will be back.
More information about Tavarua Island here: https://www.tavarua.com/
Mid-range: Plantation Island Resort
Plantation Island is where you’d go if you were an Aussie family looking for a resort with a kids club and safe lagoon for swimming. You can basically dump the kids and enjoy a week in paradise at a reasonable rate.
However, a couple of local boat drivers know that some of those visiting Aussie Dads have an ulterior motive when suggesting a Fiji holiday. “Don’t worry darling, I’ll bring my board – just in case.”
The boats leave early – just before sunrise – and usually make it back before the buffet breakfast is packed away. Papaya, eggs and coffee have never tasted so good.
The rooms at Plantation are basic but clean and the staff are friendly. When you book you’ll be offered a number of add-ons in terms of meal packages. I recommend leaving lunch and having a big breakfast and dinner. You can always bring some snacks or buy a sandwich if you’re hungry.
The staff at Plantation make a huge effort and you’ll be serenaded on arrival and departure with songs about how much they appreciate your visit. In fact, you’ll hear the wistful goodbye song every morning when departing guests eat their final breakfast. You might even learn the words.
Food at Plantation is okay. One evening I took a bite of what I can only describe as a caterpillar inside of a salad. Besides that, all was clean and easy. I definitely preferred the local and Asian options over faux-western cuisine like pizza and burgers.
The resort includes three large pools, a floating playground, a coral garden out front, two restaurants, bicycle hire, beauty treatments and a shop.
It takes a while to get from Plantation to Cloudbreak – up to half an hour. The sun is blazing on the way back and the boat may not have a cover. Bring sun protection.
Guests at Plantation seemed mainly to be Australian and Kiwi. At least that’s what I discovered after the evening crab race, when I was roped into a Dad’s stripping competition. 😩
Budget around $USD 300 per day for accommodation and $50 for each surf boat trip.
To get there you’ll need to buy tickets on the Malolo Cat service which gets expensive (around $80). It’s a bit confusing, as luggage is taken away and surfboards ride in different vans but everything gets there in the end.
To go surfing: ask for the surf boat driver. He chills near the pier – the friendly tour operators can direct you. My driver was definitely working on Fiji time, so be sure to confirm your trip the night before and aim to leave before sunrise. If all else fails, call Funky Fish Resort and ask if they can pick you up.
How did I feel about the trip: Great. Loved the experience. My daughter remembers it fondly. Less surfing than other options but perfect for a family.
More information about Plantation Island Resort here: https://www.plantationisland.com/
Budget: Rendezvous Surf Camp Fiji
Located on the main island, Rendezvous is surprisingly close to Cloudbreak. The boat will get you there in around 20 minutes – so a tad quicker than from Plantation Island, depending on ocean and wind conditions. Rendezvous is a proper surf camp with hostel-style accommodation and facilities to match.
There was a mouse in my twin room. 🐭 We heard scratching during the night and woke up to discover our snacks had been invaded. The food in the kitchen is lacklustre but more than adequate for post-surf desperation. They made a real effort to cater for my friend who is Coeliac. However, protect your snacks!
In the evenings, the bar is much quieter than that at Tavarua and Plantation. People here are on a budget after all. One guy was camping in a tent on the grass near the boat ramp. He migrated to a dorm room after a particularly hectic overnight thunderstorm.
The staff are welcoming and the boat drivers really make an effort to get everyone stoked. They’ll run separate boats to different breaks to suit the customer skill and confidence level. At least half of the clientele, when I was there, were beginners. Some even went and surfed a little beach break in front of one of the luxury hotels down the road. Guests were from everywhere – USA, Scandinavia, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand.
At Rendezvous Surf Camp everything is included, except alcohol. My plan included one surf trip per day, with the option to buy more as needed.
Budget around $200 per day, including the daily surf trip and airport transfer.
I actually enjoyed staying at Rendezvous – it was unpretentious and fine for someone who just wants to surf. You spend half the day lounging around, brief interludes bouncing across deep ocean in a boat, and four hours getting shacked and / or sunburnt in the South Pacific.
To go surfing: be at the breakfast area before 6am. Put your name on the whiteboard the night before.
How did I feel about the trip: Fun experience. Perfect for a boys trip. Easy to venture out for dinner to a luxury hotel down the road.
More information about Rendezvous Surf Camp Fiji here: https://www.fijirendezvous.com/
There are loads of places to stay when surfing Fiji. The above options are three of my favourites. At the end of the day, you’ll be surfing the same breaks as everyone else so it comes down to how much you value wave accessibility, food quality and sleeping in a comfy bed.
Other accommodation options
Worth checking out
If the surf is flat and you want to explore, check out Cloud Nine. Described as a floating version of the bar from Mad Max, this is a post-apocalyptic mashup of everything revelrous and weird in the world. Groups of young Aussie boys collide with Chinese snorkel enthusiasts. Senior citizens take selfies from the top floor. Mums and dads sip cocktails in the sunshine while their kids are back at the resort. Backpackers mingle with luxury travellers, the DJ spins a selection of party tunes, freshly baked pizza is served.
We went to Cloud Nine after a couple of surfs. At one point a guy who looked like a bald version of Aquaman performed a perfect swan dive in order to rescue a Chinese woman who had decided to go for a swim before remembering that she couldn’t swim. Bedraggled but safe, her white costume revealed everything as she sprawled out on a sunbed, beside her friend who was ferociously playing Angry Birds and seemed not to notice she was on Cloud Nine, or in Fiji, for that matter.
There’s no better to place in the South Pacific to drink, dine and marvel at the weirdness that is modern human life.