Fiji has always been a favorite of surfers, who pilgrimage here for the long, perfect breaks, consistent swells, and warm waters. Now, paddleboarders are starting to migrate here from the well-worn breaks of Hawaii, too.
“Fiji is amazing,” says Anderson. “It’s one of the most special places on Earth. It’s on the doorstep of major nations but it’s so untouched.”
Perhaps the most famed destination in this South Pacific archipelago is Cloudbreak, a perfect left break located about a mile off the island of Tavarua. It is not for the faint of heart or unpracticed. Giant swells can make the break only accessible to tow-in surfers, and shallow coral reefs can rake the unsuspecting. But for those elite paddleboarders who have the skills—and guts—to attempt it, the payoff is a long, fast ride on a perfect barrel.
Tavarua Island Resort owns the rights to Cloudbreak and a number of other breaks. The resort hosts surfers and the occasional paddleboarder and provides access to the waves.
Kiwi Annabel Anderson is pretty good at winning paddleboard races. In 2012, she was crowned the sport’s world champion in Hawaii and won by the largest margin ever at the Battle of the Paddle in California, one of the sport’s most prestigious races. But she also has a penchant for adventure—she has tackled challenges from the Thames (which turned out to be marginally legal) and the crossing from the island of Ibiza to the coast of Spain—making her one of paddleboarding’s most recognized faces.
Annabel Anderson's Gear Pick: Subaru Outback
“I am lucky enough to be sponsored by Subaru, and four-wheel-drive cars definitely come in handy in getting me to where I need to be,” says Anderson. “Even though they’re one of my partners, I’ve been driving them since I got my license—up dirt roads in really remote places in New Zealand. Also, it’s so much easier not having a massive SUV that’s a struggle to put things on top of. It’s a big big plus.”