Friday, December 20, 2013

Surf and Dive Frigates, Fiji

Frigates Passage, Fiji
View from the boat
Long walls at Frigates
   The big reason for coming to Waidroka, on the south east corner of the main Fijian island of Viti Levu, was to surf a wave way out at sea called Frigates. Frigates is a reef passage that picks up way more swell than any of the local breaks. It takes about an hour to drive out there by boat but it is usually worth the extra effort. We spent the last two days exploring Frigates above and below the waves, and sometimes right through them!
Just under the surface- Frigates

Checking out the wall at Frigates
Twilight Cavern
  The reason that Frigates has such massive waves is because the force of those waves from the south are totally unobstructed until they smash upon a huge wall rising from the depths here. Our mission today was to explore that wall. What we found is that instead of being a solid wall, it is pocked with deep canyons, swim throughs, and caverns. Light filters down through these canyons giving them a kind of everlasting twilight aura about them.

The wall at Frigates

  We came across white tip reef sharks, a sea turtle, and a couple nudibranchs along with all the colorful reef fish living here. There was some beautiful soft coral but mostly hard coral coverage here. This makes sense after seeing the beating it takes from the waves above. And this was just a 'small day', so overhead sets coming in.
  The reef here formed around an ancient caldera that has sunk back into the ocean. The reef remains, lurking just below the surface. Imagine driving away from land, out in the middle of the ocean, and seeing a line of white. Getting closer you realize that line of white is actually whitewater from massive waves breaking in the middle of nowhere. It is a very unique dive and surf spot.

Duck diving under a wave
  Since Jack had been to Frigates a few months ago I had been hearing stories of this wave ever since this big Oceana trip started. I was pretty skeptical with a 2-3ft swell predicted but it didn't take much arm wrenching to get me out there to take a look. When we pulled the boat up next to the break I was amazed to see head high sets with a couple of overhead sets breaking and then peeling left for really fun looking rides.

Wave Slider--Jack
  Jack, Myles, and I all had an incredible time. I took off on a huge bomb, we all stayed off the reef, and in the end we surfed for 6 hours. I'm pretty sure my eyes are now sunburned but it was totally worth it. I did not think that we would find a wave here in Fiji that compared to those we surfed in Bali but Frigates changed that. It exceeded all my expectations.

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