The minuscule heart-shaped island of Tavarua is one of the natural surfing wonders of the world. Kelly Slater calls Cloudbreak his favourite wave on the planet; CJ Hobgood says the same thing about Restaurants, the island’s other world-class left.
But the island is also home to perhaps the original exclusive surf resort, even if nowadays the waves are open to all. Two early visitors from California set up camp on the island in the early ’80s after negotiating a deal with the local tribes that guaranteed guests exclusive access to the surf, an arrangement that would last until 2010, when the Fijian government opted to lift these restrictions. “A lot of people saw the exclusivity as a negative thing, but it really didn’t exclude anybody,” says Shane Dorian, rather missing the point. “You just had to stay on Tavarua, which was an awesome place to come and visit.” No doubt it was, but it was also an extremely expensive place to come and visit, effectively excluding all but the rich (your opinion on which may or may not bear a close relation to the balance of your bank account). Many a giant, perfect wave went unridden as a result.
Vaguely interesting fact (courtesy of the mighty Encyclopedia of Surfing): the scene where the raft gets smashed in the movie Cast Away was filmed at Cloudbreak.