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Surfing the South Pacific: Any Questions? – Waterways Travel


Written By: Sean Murphy, President, Waterways Travel



Well, as you can see by my “Head Shot”, I am not your typical agency executive.  Born into the Travel Industry, son of James Murphy and brother to Gary Murphy (Brendan Tours / AMA WaterWays), travel is in my blood; but not the sort of travel pioneered by my role model  father; the kind of travel people make a life passion – SURF ADVENTURE TRAVEL!


In 1994 WaterWays Travel was established to cater to the needs and desires of the traveling surf community.   Much like people who grew up skiing eventually want to take a Heli-ski trip to Canada, surfers that grew up to be doctors, lawyers and advertising executives now want the equivalent experience surfing around the world; often with family in tow.


There is a lot to surf travel; it is not just choosing which river you want to cruise, the details run deep.  As with any semi-extreme adventure travel, the participants often know more than t agents – but this is not the case with WaterWays, all our agents live the lifestyle; so when potential travelers ask:


What is the surf season for Fiji, and of those months, which are best and why?

Does the wave break left or right?

Is the wave soft or hollow?

I normally surf around San Diego, can you compare the waves to any of the breaks in my area?

Is the bottom structure live coral, dead coral, rock or sand?

Is there much of a current?  Does it run up the point or down the point?

I’m 5’10” tall and weigh about 180lbs; been surfing most my life, what sort of boards do you suggest I bring on this trip?


Well, we have the answers to every location we represent.  And just like standard travel, if they want to know the room configurations, meal plan options and best travel itineraries; well, we have that as well.  These trips are as much about the surf as they are the healthy lifestyle and cultural travel experience.  When not surfing there is always time to take in the sights, visit local villages, do some yoga, fishing, diving or just relax in a hammock or at the bar.  Do it all or nothing at all! And more than ever these surfers are traveling with families so the accommodation options are getting better and some resort properties offer affordable child care.


Having taken a chapter from my father’s book, we are always happy to work with travel agents and offer commission on our entire product line.  In addition, we are available to travel agents to assist in closing the sale by working directly with your passengers to cover the “surf specific” details and keep you in the loop to finalize arrangements.


The South Pacific is as synonymous with Adventure Surf Travel as Whistler or Blackcomb are with Heli-skiing.  Fiji, Samoa and Tahiti see the bulk of surf travel in the South Pacific and have the best connectivity from the continental United States with carries like Fiji Airways and Air Tahiti Nui.  But of all the South Pacific, Fiji is Mecca and Tavarua Island Resort is The Grand Mosque.


A bit on some of the more popular locations:


Tavarua Island Resort, Fiji: 

The Mother of all world-class surf resorts. Located in the Mamanuca Island chain, about 15 miles southwest of Nadi, Tavarua is a 24 acre heart shaped island. Tavarua offers world class comfort and perfect conditions for surfing, kite-surfing, SUP, diving, fishing, or just getting a tan and reading.


Tavarua Island faces south by southwest into the South Pacific and is perfectly positioned to catch all swells coming up from the Southern Ocean.


Tavarua comfortably accommodates 36 adults in 16 private bures. They are beautifully made in a traditional island style that is still thoroughly modern in comfort.   The bures are there to rest, relax, and rejuvenate, for the next surf, kite, sailboard, dive, snorkel or SUP session.


The food at Tavarua is legendary and tailored to meet the appetites of hungry guests who are playing hard in the ocean and the sun. The buffet is loaded with fresh, healthy foods in generous portions providing energy to restore and reload.


Tavarua began as a remote island camp offering the basics to those who love the ocean but today, Tavarua has become a family friendly resort and is finding more and more guests who come as much for the wonderful amenities as for the surf.


Namotu Islnad Resort, Fiji: 

Namotu Island is a South Pacific fantasy that is considered world class for surfing, diving, sailboarding, kite surfing, fishing and standup paddle boarding but what really sets Namotu apart is the service and atmosphere.


No matter what activity you may be interested in, Namotu’s attentive “can do” staff are there to make it happen on your schedule.


Boat transfers go where you want, when you want, and if you want a round of golf, no problem! Helicopter tour? No problem! Scuba diving? No problem!


Feel free to do nothing at all but relax in the shade with an icy cocktail, enjoy the company of friends, or rest under the beach palapa in the solitude that only a private island accommodation can deliver.


Matanivuis Resort, Fiji: 

Matanivusi Surf Resort is an eco-friendly enclave built specifically to accommodate surfers and family members that are looking for secluded accommodation and challenging waves breaking in crystal clear waters.


The Coral Coast of Fiji is the south coast of the main island of Viti Levu, between the Sigatoka River mouth and Suva. Popular with tourists from around the world, the Coral Coast is about 60 miles of coves and isolated jungle with pristine beaches protected by barrier reefs that are anywhere from a quarter mile to a mile wide.


The reef pass at the entrance to Vunaniu village has a series of right reefs that Australians Brian and Donna McDonald came across around the turn of the century.


With permission from village elders, the McDonalds were allowed to create an eco-friendly surf resort along a stretch of beach about three kilometers from Vunaniu.


The resort was built in harmony with the natural terrain and water supply to build 6 duplex bures. Each bure has two king size beds with mosquito nets, comfortable chairs, en suite bathrooms and ceiling fans. The windows are fitted with louvers and glass allowing guests to regulate how much sea breeze flows in and heat flows out.


Salani Surf Resort, Somoa: 

Located on the Southeast coast of Upolu, where the spring-fed waters of the Mulivai Fagatoloa River meet the blue South Pacific you will find a small enclave for surfers and their families located near the traditional Salani Village.


Salani Surf Resort is for travelers looking to experience the best surfing Samoa has to offer, heartwarming culture, tropical weather and natural beauty. Although Salani is a dedicated surf resort, guests are encouraged to bring along non-surfing partners and families as there are many activities for all to enjoy. A 12 surfer maximum capacity allows every guest to have a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience.


Salani has access to a number of breaks around the island with the Left and Right being only a 5-minute boat ride straight out front from your accommodation. With moorings in the channel of each spot for safety, it can be an ideal position to shoot photo and video while at the same time maintaining the health of the reef.


And for Tahiti, book your passengers into any resort property on Tahiti or Moorea and let our knowledgeable surf guides do the rest.  Our local guides are available to pick up your clients in the morning and get them into the best surf each day with transportation by truck and boat to the off-shore reefs; and back in time for lunch or dinner depending on family and surf conditions.  Photography services are available upon request.


In the end, please feel free to use me as a source of information whenever needed.  Call or email me directly and I can get you started; and am happy to provide details on any property we represent, or even those we do not.  I have been surfing everywhere and love to share the information.