LI A B V S. F IJ I 8 . 6 5 0 0 ° S, 1 1 5 . 2 1 6 7 ° E 1 8 . 0 0 0 0 ° S, 1 7 9 . 0 0 0 0 ° E A DREAM LO­CA­TION DUEL. BY COL BER­NASCONI

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Let me start this dream is­land duel by stat­ing cat­e­gor­i­cally I am no longer on the pay­roll of a sur ng mag­a­zine. Nor do I hold any hope for a pro­longed ca­reer in the sur ng world as a free­lance writer, post this ar­ti­cle (print, web or oth­er­wise). I've not (in­ten­tion­ally) grown a beard in ve years and am now (ba­si­cally) a 9 to 5 work­ing surf rat that is go­ing to tell it like it is. No pro stoke bull­shit. No beach­side baloney. This is a straight up ques­tion for the ages … is a surf trip to Namotu Is­land in Fiji bet­ter than your stock stan­dard run across the coals in that much loved (and un­for­tu­nately well worn) is­land to our north – Bali?

My rst thought was that surely there had to be an al­go­rithm in this? A pie graph, a Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tion, Some­thing? A guide that shows "ed­u­cated" surfers which sur ng des­ti­na­tion is go­ing to sup­ply the high­est wave count per dollar ra­tio. And while we're at it, we should also fac­tor in where we can ex­pect the least amount of traf c time, easy ac­cess to a mul­ti­tude of qual­ity reef breaks,min­i­mal chance of a vene­real dis­ease,cheap beer and just as im­por­tantly – which "des­ti­na­tion" of the two will have our "un­der­stand­ing" part­ners (they'll never be 100% on­board) cheer­ing us on as we leave for the air­port know­ing we'll come back bet­ter for the ex­pe­ri­ence. Well, guess what surf fans? I've found it! The an­swer is that glo­ri­ous group of is­lands sit­ting in close prox­im­ity to the eastern boob of our coun­try – Fiji. Per­haps (like me) we can drib­ble out a sad tale of hav­ing once vis­ited in our (sans surf­board) teens. With pure grace on her side my mother took my sis­ter and I to Fiji when I was 13 – high point? Nearly pash­ing a well en­dowed chick from Cronulla in the pool. But the hor­ror I now live is know­ing that our ho­tel was a mere 20 minute boat ride away from two of the world's best left-han­ders. Argh­h­h­hhh! But I di­gress…

The truth is I used no graph to reach this con­clu­sion. There is no wave count aba­cus – but there is this, the word of a re­turn surf-ice-man (ser­vice man anal­ogy – sorry I know) that has served no less than 12 tours of duty to the mag­i­cal is­land of Bali. So, let's get down to it boppers. While I love Bali, the one blud­geon­ing fac­tor work­ing against it from the get-go is wave count. I am as­ton­ished by the dif­fer­ence in feet-on-board-up-and-rid­ing time be­tween Fiji to Bali. Re­mem­ber the sim­pli ed rhetoric in this "travel piece" is to es­tab­lish which is­land of­fers an every­man (or woman) surfer the great­est op­por­tu­ni­ties to ad­vance and dance their sur ng kicks away.

Com­pare the ights for starters. A three and a half hour ight to Nadi (from Syd­ney) beats 8 hours to Bali hands down. Air travel has lost its ro­man­tic al­lure, and de­spite Louie CK say­ing oth­er­wise, the won­der has worn off too – DM me on Instagram when the hover board's nally avail­able and can tra­verse wa­ter.

On my re­cent Oc­to­ber trip to Fiji I landed fresher (and less ex­pec­tant) than a ight to Bali. Only to be scooped up into the lov­ing arms of Namotu's trans­port manager. A dili­gent and friendly fel­low named Ba­boo. The ve In­done­sian male names have noth­ing on "Ba­boo".

A short and sober­ing (poverty hap­pens here too) bus ride later and a gag­gle of Amer­i­can Namotu-ites and my­self land on a soft,swell pro­tected reef just min­utes away from is­land heaven. De­scrib­ing the en­su­ing 20 min­utes of fresh Fi­jian air lling my lungs as we raced in a boat to­wards Tavarua and Namotu would be a fail no mater what I said. No con­ges­tive city fumes,no screech­ing tyres – just sea birds, ying sh and Lucy in The Sky With Di­a­monds dreaming. I've never ar­rived to a des­ti­na­tion so cleansed and puri ed.

Bet­ter yet, within an hour I was bail­ing out of one of Namotu's many well-equipped boats into the line up at Cloud­break. De­spite its fear­some rep­u­ta­tion, at 3-5 feet this wave's com­pletely sur­fa­ble and en­joy­able to no end. There's lit­tle won­der Parko and Slater (to name a cou­ple) claim it as their num­ber one go-to wave. Be­ing just shy of 15 min­utes from Wanga's bar – a Gil­li­gan Is­land-es­que wa­ter­ing hole at ground zero on Namotu, it's as handy as any cold tall Bin­tang on that other is­land.

Com­par­ing the 15 minute boat ride (free and al­ways ready and wait­ing once you're an is­land-ite) to hav­ing to nd a driver, hag­gle with said driver, and then ght the traf c in Bali is like com­par­ing a toothy head job to that of a bee-sting-lipped God­dess who could suck a golf ball through a hose. There is no com­par­i­son.

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