Reflections from the Field – Tavarua: Day One

Bula! (Hello!) For those of you who don’t know, I am an intern for the Center for Surf Research (CSR), a non-profit educational facility housed in the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at San Diego State University. For more info on the CSR, check out our website at  I am here with the Center’s director, Dr. Jess Ponting, to conduct research on best practices in sustainable surf tourism management at the world renowned surf resort, Tavarua ( This fulfills my 12-unit internship requirement so I can graduate in May with a Sustainable Recreation and Tourism Management degree. Follow my blog to see what kind of work I’ll be doing and how much fun I’ll be having over the next three weeks!

I flew down to LAX from SFO on Thursday, where I somehow managed to avoid paying for my surfboard bag (awesome), then I met with Jess who flew up from San Diego, and we flew from LAX to Nadi, Fiji (10hr,45min) where we arrived at 5:15am on Saturday. We met our cab driver and fellow Tavarua guests and proceeded to pile all our surfboard bags on the roof in the rain.

We packed in the van and drove to the nearby Mercure Resort, where we waited until the boats from Tavarua were ready to take us to the island. With only four hours of sleep on the plane, I tried take a nap, but then I got Rick Rolled (youtube it) and woke up because of that stupid song and decided to do some work instead with Jess.

Two hours later, our cab driver told us that there was a flood warning and we must go immediately, otherwise we will be stuck in Nadi.

The drive to where the boats picked us up revealed some of the living conditions in Nadi…

Following the drive through town…

Nadi’s Hindu Temple

we took the “interior road” through sugar cane fields, which they harvest 2x a year


to the boat pick-up area where the locals of Nabila village handed us Tavarua rain jackets and put our gear in trash bags and loaded them up into the boats. We were riding in the same Tavarua boats that I have seen in many surf videos with famous pro surfers (awesome). The boat ride was about a half hour from the mainland to the island of Tavarua, with rain the whole time, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  It was great. We landed on the island and were greeted upon arrival with Fijians singing and putting salusalu (necklaces) on us.  Then the staff helped us bring our luggage to our bures (rooms), which are amazing and right next to the beach.

I had packed all my clothes in my surfboard bag so they were soaked from all the rain, but at least my backpack was dry, which held all my electronics.  After unpacking, we went to the restaurant on the island and did some work until lunch, which was delicious of course. We met Dylan Fish, the general manager of the resort, a really nice, humble guy who is a talented surfer and guest speaker, but he’d never admit it. He told us about their staff Christmas party the night before where they had 60 of the Nabila locals on the island and a 500 pound pig named Jimmy for the feast and lots of Kava ( Sounded like a lot of fun.  After lunch, we went back to work until the boats were ready for an afternoon surf session. We went to Wilkes, which is a fun right-hander in the middle of the ocean, but it was a little unpredictable and sloppy, which is unusual for Fiji’s reef breaks, but it’s summer here which is the slow season for surf. The water is 85 degrees, and crystal clear, which was cool to see the reef, but also scary to see the reef because it’s razor sharp, thank god for reef booties (thanks Mom!) or else I would have sliced open my feet on the first day. The sun poked out for about 20 minutes and it felt like you were cooking it was so hot, but still awesome to experience such warm conditions coming from Northern California. After surfing for a couple of hours, we all hopped back in the boat and went back to Tavarua. Jumped in the pool, relaxed the muscles in the hot tub, and then went back to work, got internet sussed, and started this blog you see here as I watched the sunset. Pretty sweet office aye?

Had dinner, and continued to work with good music in the background and people playing poker, it was a fun environment. Still on fours of sleep over the course of two days, I’m going to call it quits here, and hit the hay. I’ll have more photos of the resort once the rain goes way, which should be in two days. Goodnight!

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