Fijians have been surfing in some form or other for probably thousands of years beginning with surfing canoes over reef’s to enter lagoons and then as recreation. The Fijian language has a number of references to surfing and according to Paul Geraghty our most esteemed linguist from the University of the South Pacific surfing was and is practiced at Vuna, the southern most point of Taveuni using papa ni savasava (home made washboards!). Other areas of surfing in Fiji were Tunuloa, Kade (Koro) and Mataisuva.

On Nacula in the Yasawa’s their vocabularly has two references to surfing vakatosiua – surfing lying down, and vitaubiau – surfing standing up. Paul doesn’t think that surfing faded out in Fiji, it’s just that it was never widespread and it was in places visitors rarely went.

Earliest known written references to Fijian surfing are 1890 – Thomas Williams who writes, “youngsters use the surfboards which are so often found in Polynesia”. In 1910 a traveling priest H. Wilfred Walker was given an exhibition of surf board swimming (sic) by the local women of Vuna on orders of the high chief Ratu Lala.

Fast forward a hundred years to 1981 and the locals from Lami begin surfing Suva reef on modern fiberglass boards in the era of the super short boardshorts!


“As they rode into shore on the crest of a wave I many times expected to see them dashed against the rocks which fringed the coast. I had seen the natives in Hawaii perform seventeen years before, but it was tame in comparison to the wonderful performances of these Fijian women…”

Other Milestones

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Tavarua Island Resort was established by Scott Funk and Dave Clarke.


Colin Philp opens Fiji’s first surfshop repairing and selling second hand boards.


Stephen Turner established SURF FIJI to service traveling surfers primarily in the Mamanuca Island Group – operating out of Nadi Bay. He also established a surf shop in Nadi which ran for a couple of years.


Magic Island is developed by Adam Yared. It is later sold to Scotty O’Conner and partners including Tavarua Island and re brands as Namotu Blue Water Sports Resort.


Stephen Turner organizes Fiji’s first surf contest at Hideaway Resort – won by Jason Olderoy. First prize was a new surfboard!


First local surf competition held at Tavarua Island.


Fiji Surfing Association is formed.


Fijians compete in first international competition – the South Pacific Games in Tahiti and produced our best performance at this competition to date – two silvers and three bronze. Todd Bower riding a body board for just a few months prior almost taking Gold in his event! The FSA later sends teams to the SPG (now Pacific Games) in Fiji 2003, Samoa 2007 , Mini Games in Norfolk Island.

Ian Muller started his local tour company – Fiji Surf in his backyard and later moves to a beach location beside Sonaisali, his surf shop opens in Martintar and is now in Nadi town. Ian later takes on a promotional role for Red Bull.


Fiji surf brand Wai Tui and surfshop opens in Suva.


The Inaugural Oceania Surfing Cup (OSC) was hosted by the FSA at Tavarua Island Resort attracting teams from 8 Oceania nations. The success of the Rip Curl Tavarua Oceania Cup and an outstanding amount of hard work by the Fiji Surfing Association helped to secure Rip Curl’s continued support and sponsorship up to the year 2000. The cup has since been held in Tonga, Tahiti, Samoa, New Caledonia, Norfork Island, and Australia.


Tavarua Resort receives Special License from the Fiji Ministry of Lands giving them private ownership of surf breaks around the island.


Offshore Surf Shop opens in Sigatoka, owned by Scott Lower and Vivian.


Six-time world champion Kelly Slater today claims the inaugural Globe WCT Fiji title in 6-8 foot waves at Restaurants, Tavarua, that are described as some of the most perfect ever surfed in the Foster’s Men’s World Tour.


last Globe WCT event is held at Tavarua. Won by Kelly Slater.


Fiji competes in first ever International Surfing Association competition and attends first ever General Meeting of the ISA. Alifereti Kamanalagi is our lone competitor in the under 16 division.

Surfing Areas Decree passed by the Fiji Government ending the private ownership of Cloudbreak, Restaurants and Namotu Lefts.

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