Surfing in the South Pacific is not for beginners - here you'll find some of the most challenging and daunting of surf breaks with thick powerful waves and hollow barrels breaking within a metre from the coral reef - wipe out here and you're in great danger of cutting yourself up! But what rates these waves so highly is not just in their size and power, but there are only a handful of surfers vying for the same wave so crowds in never a problem. The biggest and best surfing conditions arrive in May when the winter storms roll in off the southern ocean around New Zealand and last until October. During the South Pacific summer months the seas tend to be calmer but can receive good swells from the northern pacific storms which hit the north side of the larger islands.
Unlike Hawaii, body surfing in the South Pacific is not great as most beaches are protected by a lagoon with fringing reef and therefore without waves. A few exceptions are Natadola Beach in Fiji and Paea on the west coast of Tahiti.
If windsurfing or kite surfing is your thing, there are fantastic conditions and plenty of board hire outlets in Noumea, New Caledonia.
# 1 - Samoa
Given the right conditions, surfing in Samoa is probably the best of the South pacific destinations. There are a couple of dedicated surf resorts in the country and a great many breaks available which work on different tides and swells so there's always something to surf any time of the year. Best of all is that Samoa is a quiet destination and few surfers venture this way.
# 2 - Fiji
Often featured as the most exciting event of the ASP world series (usually held in June at Tavarua), Fiji has world renowned breaks such as Desperations, Cloudbreak and Wilkes all along the Malolo Barrier Reef and easily accessible from Nadi. But there are other great breaks too with virtually no crowds including Frigates in Beqa Lagoon and King Kong off Kadavu.
# 3 - French Polynesia
Apart from the utterly hair-raising Teahupoo (on the south coast of Tahiti Iti) where another ASP world series takes place, there are another seven good breaks along this same stretch of coastline which generally have fewer surfers than Teahupoo which is often overcrowded and regulated by local pecking order. Other fun waves can be found off the west coast of Tahiti and south coast of Moorea. If visiting in summer (November to April) the best waves are likely to be found in the northern passages of the Tuamotu atolls.
# 4 - Tonga
If you're looking for a laid back holiday with some great surfing close to the beach, then head to Ha'atafu on Tongatapu Island which has reliable surf which sometimes gets gnarly.
# 5 - Vanuatu
There are a few decent passages on the south coast of Efate Island, namely at Eratap Beach and a glassy left-hander at Breakas just south of Port Vila.
# 6 - New Caledonia
There are no great surfing breaks in New Caledonia, but the winds around Noumea are terrific for wind surfing and kite surfing.
# 7 - Cook Islands
A couple of passage breaks on Rarotonga but you'll need to bring your own surf board as nothing is available for rent. Otherwise, windsurfing at Muri Beach can be good in the afternoons.