Tavarua Island Resort – the heart shaped island in the South Pacific- is as unique as its distinctive shape. Sitting on the tip of the Mamanuca Island chain off Viti Levu, the island is strategically positioned on a barrier reef to take advantage of seven distinct waves within its proximity. There is something here for everyone who loves the ocean, the surf and a variety of water and land sports. Tavarua Island Resort offers a level of intimacy and personal attention coupled with that special Fijian Bula Spirit that welcomes guests from all over the world.
It was almost 30 years ago that Tavarua Island Resort was established as the world’s first surfing resort. It took foresight, vision, good fortune and a great deal of determination, together with a deep respect for the Fijian roots that are seeped in these shores, to see what the island could become. There is much history here, going back generations, and Druku Lalabalavu, the chief of the island, can still recount stories of his past and of his ancestors to those who wish to hear.
Imagining what Tavarua Island was like three decades ago, you have to put yourself back into the time of single fin surfboards and no mobile phones. To reach Tavarua you would take a small boat with one of the local villagers or fisherman who would head out the five miles to collect coconuts from the island. The waves were considered bad luck– as often they were so huge and intimidating that fishing the area was considered too treacherous. The wave that broke a mile to the south of Tavarua was called Naikurukurumailagi or Thundercloud reef. It was Dave Clark, the founder of Tavarua Island Resort that gave the wave its current name back in 1983: Cloudbreak, one of the most famous names in the surfing world.
Today those same villagers, according to Druku, welcome the waves and consider them to be good luck, as they bring island guests to stay and enjoy the resort and all that it has to offer.
For the early surf travellers of the 70s and 80s – camping on beaches, or staying with locals, drinking coconut milk and fishing for food was the norm. This is how Dave Clark was first introduced to the island. But for Dave the experience would be life altering.
He graduated from University California Santa Barbara with a degree in Environmental Studies and wrote his thesis on creating an artificial reef and a surf resort. As things turned out, he never had to create a reef, but instead found the perfect destination to actualize his dream. With his background in sustainable tourism and environmental issues, Dave wanted to create something a bit different – a surf resort that that would engage and benefit the local villages and give back to the communities, so that everyone could feel that they were a part of the island’s success.
This founding principal, of giving back, is still in effect today, almost 30 years on.
Philanthropic donations of time, medical assistance and supplies are funneled into Fijian communities around the country via Tavarua Island Resort.
The Loloma Foundation, formed by Dr. Lance Hendricks and doctors visiting Tavarua, donate crucial medical assistance and education to all parts of the Fiji Islands.
The Scripps Health – Fiji Medical Alliance, sponsored by Scripps Memorial Hospitals, provides air transport and critical surgeries in the United States to those Fijians without access to complex and expensive medical care.
Over the years Tavarua Island has constructed more than 44 new hurricane resistant concrete homes for the villages, several new schools, 3 new churches, 2 community centers and a new police station, among many other community-based projects.
In the area of education there is a Tavarua Island Scholarship Program as well as additional monies raised from various affiliated associations for primary and exemplary students at the secondary and tertiary levels.
Many lives have been changed thanks in part to the island’s relationship to its staff, their villages and the country as a whole.
Thrill - 2012 Volcom Fiji Pro
But it is not only through philanthropic or medical services that some lives have been altered. This coming June all eyes will turn to Fiji as Tavarua Island and Volcom Inc., together with a major contribution from Fiji’s national carrier, Air Pacific and the support of the Fijian Government will host the 2012 Volcom Fiji Pro Contest.
The contest, scheduled from June 3-15, 2012, will be broadcast to millions of viewers from all over the world through television and live webcasting. The total prize money at this years competition will be USD$425,000 ($FD760,000). A total of 34 surfers are expected to participate including current tour leader and 11time world champion Kelly Slater. This will be the 15th World Champion Contest, going all the way back to 1987 that Tavarua Island has hosted.
There will also be a local Fijian wild card entry into the event with the chance to compete against the top surfers in the world.
Two of those competing for this spot are Tavarua local boatmen Aca Lalabalavu (Island chief Druku’s son) and Isei Tokovou. Both of these men were introduced to surfing from a very early age. Pushed into the shorebreak known as Kiddieland on Tavarua as children, they eventually began taking Tavarua guests out to Cloudbreak as teenagers and soon began joining the guests in the water. Their local knowledge, athleticism and years of watching the best surfers in the world surf these waves, make them odds-on favorites in this competition.
These two men are leaders in the growth of Fijian surfing and their talent has taken them to multiple international destinations representing Fiji in several competitions.
Tavarua Island Resort is an easy destination for US, Australian and New Zealand travellers with direct flights from Los Angeles, Brisbane, Sydney and Auckland to Nadi via Air Pacific, Fiji’s National Carrier. From the moment you land – with transfer from the airport to the boat landing and a quick 20-minute boat ride to the island – you will feel the stress and worry disappear. Whether you are travelling alone, with your family or with the one you love – this is a true Fijian island paradise.
Tavarua Island Resort offers 16 air-conditioned beachfront bures – each with two queen size beds, en suite and a private deck. The bars and restaurant offer freshly prepared meals and drinks daily and boast one of the best views in the South Pacific.
When not surfing there are many other activities to keep you busy. Tavarua Island Resort offers world class fishing, snorkeling, tennis, gymnasium, a pool and spa as well as kayaking and Stand Up Paddle boarding. Scuba Diving and other activities are available as well. Each week there is a traditional Fijian kava ceremony to welcome guests and an introduction to Fijian customs. The island welcomes families and children with many activities including surfing instruction, games bure and island hopping.