Once the exclusive domain of well-heeled surfers able to pay the hefty daily rate to stay at the Tavarua Island surf resort, the Fijian government recently changed the law which allowed the resort to control access to this now legendary reef pass. While the perfect pictures of Cloudbreak suggest flawless left barrels for one and all, this is a tricky wave with multiple sections and a malevolent side that keeps even the best surfers on their toes. The outside section at the top Point of the reef holds plenty of size and the vertiginous roll-ins lead into a flying wall section where speed carves are possible. Middles is where turns are less useful and the barrel starts to wind up, covering a lot of distance in a short time. Insides, or Shish-kabobs, is where the reef gets extremely shallow and the tubes get extremely... extreme! Less confident surfers thinking they can pick off a few on the inside are not going to find any easy rides here and the fingers of razor sharp reef are far less uniform than further out. The 3 sections rarely link up, but when they do, usually on a long period, SSW swell of epic proportions, it is one of the seven wonders of the surf world.
So advanced to expert surfers should be able to deal with the heavy waves, currents and bump-inducing frisky trades, but there are other hazards. The live coral is slasher sharp and cuts have the tendency to flare up. The reef attracts some fauna that is also best avoided like sea snakes, stonefish and the odd well-fed shark, but the unavoidable bogieman is undoubtedly the sun. Once you have negotiated a seat in a boat (for a handsome sum), remember to take lots of water, sunscreen and a surf hat!