We’re right in the midst of Australia’s winter and while it has its benefits in terms of swell, it’s also the perfect time to escape the blistering cold, venture somewhere tropical and thaw out on a deserted white sand beach. Sounds enticing, doesn’t it? The islands of Fiji boast some of the most stunning shorelines imaginable and beautiful ocean life to rival that of any other reef in the world, not to mention world class waves–including the legendary Cloudbreak.

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For our latest Corona Journey, we took a trip halfway across the South Pacific to Fiji, where we met up with our friends Jordy Smith and Matt Wilkinson off the back of his Outerknown Fiji Pro win. The days were spent exploring Fiji’s palm littered islands and surfing and snorkelling in the pristine turquoise blue water, while the afternoons we sat beer in hand around beach bonfires, watching the sky turn from orange to purple. If you are in dire need of sunshine, relaxation or perfect waves, then Fiji should be perched high upon the top of your bucket list! Here’s our guide to what you can expect when staying at this tropical island paradise.

Photos: Chris ‘Hollywood’ Searl // Additional Photos: Stu Gibson

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CULTURE

Fiji is a country rich in traditional culture and uses a native language that defines happiness. Their religious and cultural ceremonies are unlike any other that you may have experienced. Fijian customs reflect an utmost courtesy and dignity toward the visitor. There are ceremonies for every occasion, which may include the presentation of food or gifts, or more commonly the drinking of yaqona (kava), the national beverage. Half-coconut bowls are passed to each individual drinker, you clap your hands once and say ‘bula’ (meaning hello) before downing the bowl in a single gulp. This close and social ceremony brings people together while they enjoy the tranquillity of the kava. Bounce to any of the 300 islands scattered throughout Fiji and chances are someone will be slurping down a bowl of kava, and if you are lucky enough they may just offer you a bowl. Kava tastes like muddy water, and if you drink too much your mouth gets numb, and you may just dribble on yourself, but in return for the drool running down your chin, you get a total zen feeling throughout your body and feel completely and utterly relaxed.

Fijians are a deeply religious people with a handful of different faiths represented throughout the islands. Just note that is always respectful when visiting villages and local communities to wear appropriate attire such as a sarong, and to keep shoulders covered and hats off heads (wearing one is an insult to the chief). Easy!

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REASONS TO SMILE

Fijians are by far one of the friendliest races of people on this planet. You’d be hard pressed to find a frowning Fijian, but hey, what’s there to frown about when you live in tropical paradise! Fiji has a very tight-knit society that is mostly village-based, and according to WIN-Gallup, 89% of Fijians report they are happy, making Fiji one of the happiest countries in the world. If being surrounded by smiling faces doesn’t put a grin on your own melon, then maybe the stunning marine life will…

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SPEND ALL DAY IN, OVER & UNDER THE WATER

When you visit Fiji, the biggest challenge you’ll face is finding the time to enjoy all of the ocean activities on offer. From surfing, snorkelling and fishing, there’s plenty to keep you busy throughout the day. You can literally spend all day in, over and under the water.

Fiji is a tropical paradise not only above but below the surface, with some of the finest underwater scenery that the world has to offer. Some of the most accessible dives in the Pacific can be found here. Fiji’s reputation as the ‘soft coral capital of the world’ is well justified, and its countless reefs, drop-offs, walls and channels will have divers and snorkellers blowing bubbles through their mouthpieces in disbelief at the beautiful aquatic sights on offer.

Namotu Island is the closest island to all seven unique surf breaks including Cloudbreak, Namotu Lefts & Swimming Pools. Depending on conditions, there is something for everyone. The type of Fiji surf that you’re looking for will determine what the best time of year to visit is. Winter is the best time of year for experienced surfers to surf Fiji, where in Summer, less experienced surfers will have an easier time surfing.

Cloudbreak is just about two kilometres straight south of Namotu Island. A world class left reef pass that is regularly voted one of the 10 Best/Most challenging waves in the world. Cloudbreak’s reputation precedes it. This renowned Fiji surf spot boasts fast, barrelling lefts over a shallow reef. It’s one of those breaks you just have to see to believe. Even if you’re not up to surfing it, it’s equally as thrilling to watch from the boat and see others attempt it.

If Cloudbreak is a little bit out of your league, then maybe head over to Namotu lefts, a world-class reef break that’s more forgiving. You will find a consistent long winding left, that may be a little bit more mellow but certainly, won’t disappoint.

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FIJI TIME

Fiji is a place to step back in time, not into a time of no modern conveniences (because they’re all there), but a time of no pressure. A place that hands you the time to relax, re-assess and appreciate the things that matter in life. Watching the clock is not a priority, so don’t worry about time; things will eventually get done, and if they don’t, it is not that big a problem anyway. It seems like problems don’t really exist when you are in paradise; best to just kick up the feet and watch the world roll on by.

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THE ISLAND SUNSET SESSION

They say a good sunset can wash away your worries; no wonder Fijian’s are so happy! Fiji’s unique location in the Southern Hemisphere, near the equator, means this spectacular island nation boasts days upon weeks and months of picture perfect sunsets. After a day full of activities on and in the water, you may happily find yourself sitting with your toes in the sand, enjoying a few cold Coronas and watching the sun slowly sink below the horizon.

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Words: Lincoln Jubb

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