Fiji is a beautiful collaboration of over 330 tropical islands, which are located in the South Pacific Ocean. It is relatively cut off from the rest of the world and is approximately 1,300 miles northeast of New Zealand’s most northern island. The two largest islands are called ‘Viti Levu’ and ‘Vanua Levu’. If you are looking for true adventure and nature in its purest form, then plan to adventure out to the small, sometimes uninhabited islands
Although the mountainous Fijian terrain is constructed from ancient volcanic activity, you can relax with the knowledge that most of these volcanoes are now dormant. Due to the vastly undulating terrain and fertile soils, the stunning network of islands houses some of the best rivers, lagoons, coral reefs, beaches and hidden waterfalls that can be found anywhere in the world!
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Fiji is a stunning example of what our blue planet can offer, however, it is important you come prepared, as with any place of natural beauty that boasts untouched landscapes, you can quickly find yourself out of your depth if you do not have the appropriate equipment and knowledge at your disposal.
Below is an essential list of what you will need to bring on your fun-filled Fijian adventure – but by no means an exhaustive list!
Kit required whilst SUP Boarding:
Situated amongst several nearby reefs providing excellent surf, Namotu Island in Mamanucas is a must-do on your list of places to visit whilst in Fiji. Its stunning white beaches, crystal blue waters and lush palm trees are an added bonus! Check out ‘Namotu Lefts’, ‘Swimming Pools’ and ‘Wilkes Pass’ from the beach. You can also travel only a short distance to reach ‘Cloudbreak’ or travel just 10 minutes to surf Cloudbreak.
The best time of year for surfing ‘Namotu Lefts’ if you are after consistent, clean waves is during Autumn and also during March. However, if you would prefer calmer, flat seas to do some explorative paddle boarding, then aim to arrive any other time than those stated above. The nearest passenger airport to Namotu Lefts is Nadi International Airport (NAN) in Fiji, which is 29 km (18 miles) away. This really is a paradise with waters that don’t drop below 29’C even in the winter!
Natadola Beach is a stunning example of beach perfection. Not only is this one of Fijis' finest beaches, but one of the best in the world. A long 1.5 km white sandy beach stretching around the curvature of the tropical coastline, offering superb views as you explore the shallow water on your SUP board. If you are after some sensational photo content, then come here just in time for the picturesque sunset, you won’t be disappointed!
You would expect a beach like this to be packed full of locals and tourists alike, but due to only a couple of resorts being located nearby, it is always quiet and tranquil. Due to the water remaining relatively flat and calm along this stretch of water, it can be an ideal place to take a touring SUP board and even try a spot of fishing from your SUP board as well.
Check out some excellent touring SUP boards and fishing accessories here.
Dravuni Island is a secluded, magical, tropical gem more than 50km south of the mainland. Due to the non-existence of cars and roads on this island, it is the perfect place to go with your SUP board to feel completely at one with nature and disconnect from metropolitan life. This island is predominantly cared for by the few local inhabitants there, so you will see life how it has always been whilst you pass by along the glassy shallow shores. These magnificent waters are essentially one large lagoon that was once created by the Great Astrolabe Reef, an incredible place to see an array of beautiful sea life.
Turtle Island is an incredibly unique and memorising example of SUP boarding perfection for those looking for unparalleled beauty and a sense of adventure. This family-owned, private island has been protected as an eco-resort, with limited availability and a restriction on motorised water sports.
With only 14 Fijian-style villas on the island, you will have the opportunity to feel truly disconnected from the busy hustle and bustle of life and connect to nature to see incredible wildlife in its natural habitat. With 12 private beaches and lush forests, not only can you spend all day exploring the shorelines, but you can take a well-deserved break on the pristine beaches and enjoy an Instagram-worthy picnic. To get here, it’s only a 30-minute flight on a seaplane to the Yasawa Islands from Nadi Airport.
Fun fact! Did you know, there are 7 species of sea turtle… How many can you find on your paddle board?
This paradise within a paradise is only a 45-minute drive from Nadi Airport, making it very accessible and convenient after a potentially long flight to mainland Fiji. Another example of Sup Boarding galore!
For cruising around the idyllic coastline for hours on end, it is a good idea to make sure you have the correct type of board to get the most out of your day.
After a day of exploring and relaxation, you can be sure to find plenty of awesome evening activities here such as weaving lessons, kava ceremonies and spectacular fire shows.
Another resort worth visiting to unleash your inner paddle boarding demon on the Yasawa Island chain is the Blue Lagoon Beach Resort. Situated on the west side of the island within the stunning Nacula Bay. This stunning island chain is home to vast coral reefs and crystal waters, simply perfect for your SUP boarding adventure. Whilst you’re here, be sure to check out the Sawa-I-Lau Caves, forged with ancient limestone.
Coastal stand-up paddle boarding in Fiji is not the only incredible way to see this picturesque environment. By heading inland within Viti Levu and exploring Fijis waterways, including winding rivers, cascading waterfalls and overhead towering overhead gorges, smothered in lush, intertwining jungle. This is the easiest way to see Fijian culture in its rawest form as your cut through the dense and unforgiving undergrowth with ease, simply going with the flow of the river.
It is important that you study the section of river you plan to paddle board prior to dropping in, to avoid any unwanted high-grade rapids. You will also notice the incredible sounds of the abundant wildlife found within the interior, accompanied by the relief of a cooler temperature gifted by the surrounding shade.
The Navua River is located on the south coast of the main island, Viti Levu with a range of about 65 km. This river is ideal for those looking for natural beauty and hidden spots of tranquillity. Due to the source of the river originating on the east slope of ‘Mount Gordon’, you will be in awe of the contrasting jungle, crystal waters and steep, rugged mountains as you look up.
Ask the locals for their advice on where to drop in and get picked up after your SUP board adventure. Remember, prior planning is important for safety with river paddling, you don’t want to find yourself face to face with potentially high-grade white water without an exit option, such as in the narrow gorge within the Upper Navua Conservation Area. Heavy rainfall can change the intensity of the river flow very quickly.
The Luva River, also situated on the main island Viti Levu, is perhaps the gateway to some of the most magical places in Fiji. This river pierces through the Fijian rock, creating steep-walled gorges and fast-flowing water. If you have seen pictures of people white water rafting, or floating down the river on jungle expeditions, it may well have been here. Once again, pre-plan your paddle boarding trip so there are not any unwelcome surprises. Paddle boarding this river is perhaps the most harmonious way to experience its true beauty.
This depends on where you are staying in Fiji. If you are staying at an established resort, then you can hire SUP boards almost all of the time, however, if you are adventuring deep into the wilderness, it would be advisable to take your own or hire an inflatable SUP board from a shop. Inflatable SUP boards are easy to transport and carry by foot - Have a look at some of the options available to you here.
Most resorts have a mandatory requirement for you to wear life jackets if you hire from them. If you have your own board, it is still advisable to wear one and ensure your leash is always attached to your ankle so that you are never far from the board if you fall off.
Well, there are sharks… but no Great Whites. Most sharks are more concerned about you than you are about them. The Fijian coastline is teeming with an incredible array of sea life. Perhaps one creature to avoid is the ‘Yellow-Lipped Sea Krait’, which is essentially a swimming snake. There are also stone fish that lay on the sea bed, so beware in shallow waters and wear some ‘wet shoes’ to protect your feet. Become acquainted with the location of hospitals near you and first aid kits.
If you are intended to explore and have a leisurely adventure, it would be advisable to avoid any surfing. Stand-Up Paddleboarding can be very challenging to handle in the surf due to being ‘top heavy’ when standing up and paddling. This isn’t really a problem, because you can simply swim back to your board which is attached to you via the leash. However, beware if you are over a reef!
Coral reefs are sharp and unforgiving! If you see small ripples and localized choppy water, stay clear! Another tricky part about SUP boarding in the surf is a simple fact that you want the board to be facing an incoming wave. If it is not, then you are most likely going swimming! Large paddle boards are not particularly agile, so it is best to stick to the calm, flat coastal waters.
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