Interview: "Bula" Vibes at Cloudbreak!

Cloudbreak situated around a mile off the island Tavarua Fiji, was discovered by a man called David Clark and his brother in 1982. They camped out at the spot and found a perfect left hand wave resulting in them leasing the land and the surf spot, then further more making them the  created and owners of Tavarua surf resort that is very popular today.

Cloudbreak has been known to get to as big as 23ft!! It can require a whole range of surfboards, the best swell is said to be anything huge and from the South. So I interviewed a professional paddle boarder who has just surfed Cloudbreak for the first time on what the Fijians would call a “Smaller day” (it still looked pretty big to me)…


So Kristian, tell me a bit about yourself? 

My name is Kristian Butler. I’ve been surfing for fourteen years. My passion is riding waves in any       shape or form. I have been instructing boardsports for the past three years, including Kitesurfing, Windsurfing, Paddle Boarding, Surfing and I hope to be a snowboard instructor by the end of this year. As an instructor I believe in coaching a student at their pace, allowing them to enjoy themselves while learning. 

Why Paddle Boarding? 

Paddle boarding was introduced to me in 2010 on the PWA Windsurf World Tour by Kai Lenny and Robbie Naish. I couldn’t get over how manoeuvrable such relatively big boards were by simply using a paddle. Also, coming from the South Coast of Devon, SUP opened up a lot of different waves that weren’t usually accessible (or just looked stupid for surfing) and a lot of the time it is flat, so paddle boarding enables me more water time too. I got home after the PWA tour and went to my local shop to buy a Naish paddle board and have never looked back! In fact the feeling and stoke I get from paddling my small paddle board is so good I hardly ever surf my shortboard anymore.

Has it always been a dream of yours to paddle surf it? 

No, but it became something I wanted to do after finding out Cloudbreak is in Fiji. I’ve heard the word Cloudbreak thrown around a lot amongst my friends that are surfers and on videos. I’ve come all this way and your surfing changes completely apparently and I can now say it definitely does.

How did your surfing change completely?

The waves are so technical, you have to be in the right place at the right time, to actually make the right section of the wave. To have your confidence in your ability to not end up on the reef. The waters so clear, the guys that take you out on the boat trip from Fiji surf company are so knowledgeable and friendly with their “Bula” vibes. They make you feel welcome and like you’ve achieved something afterwards.

How nervous were you beforehand? 

I wasn’t nervous, not at all. I knew it was going to be fairly small, so not many bad things could really happen. I was just super excited and couldn’t sleep at night thinking about going until the day we went out. Then we had a five hour wait in the morning! That made me anxious though.

What was your first thought when you looked down from the peak of the 4-6ft waves? 

Urm, Fuck! that’s shallow. Don’t fuck up, if you come off, fall flat. I can see the bottom! Ok just do it. Wooooooo! Yeah! Something like that.

In one emotion how would you describe the whole experience?

Humble, but content. (After ten minutes of trying to decide between the two, I let him have both).

What was your biggest concern upon surfing it? 

Riding head high peeks that break onto knee deep water and razor sharp coral.

Has it inspired you to push your boundaries?

I guess, I never considered myself a big wave rider. However, the lifeguard from Fiji surf told me that he can see a big wave rider in my eyes when I charge for a wave. That made me think back to my kitesurfing and paddle boarding in general when I have gone big, like 8-12ft. And how much grounding that gives you as a human.

That’s interesting, what do you mean by it gives you grounding? 

I suppose you could say in a spiritual way (without sounding lame) just like Dr Mark Renekir (who is a mavericks surfer) said In an interview for the film Riding Giants. Riding potentially dangerous waves cuts out all the bullshit, just like traumatic experiences and surviving terminal illness, he found people actually start living almost for the first time. Although Cloudbreak wasn’t particularly big that day, it literally felt just like that. It was amazing.

Are there any tips that you would give to anyone else looking to ride it for the first time? 

Definitely book with Fiji Surf Company, it works out the most cost effective if you have your own board. But more importantly, they all ride Cloud Break themselves and they’re completely Honest.

So as a level two Kite Surf instructor, Windsurf Instructor and professional Paddle boarder, what’s next on the cards for you in terms of Board sports?

 Applying my transferable skill set to snowboarding, something I don’t have a lot of experience in which is exciting because it’s a new thing to learn. I also want to progress my windsurfing this is because before I left the UK to go travelling, I had just got into a harness and foot straps which is a whole new Ball Game.






Aussie surf spots: The guide

Umina (said in a strong bogan accent)
“friendly training wave”

Is our local. It’s a exposed estuary beach break with a slow wave, critical sections at high and low tide. A break for everyone, extremely friendly atmosphere and the lifeguards give you leeway on the rules e.g for kitesurfing you can be in between the flags as long as your not near people. Quiet because there are ‘better beaches around’.


Copacabana & McMasters

You can go to Copa if you feel like you’re fit enough to be constantly paddling. This is due to the strong rip it has due to the channel and steep shore break, its a mission but hands down to you if you do! If you’re anything like us, you might prefer the same class of head high wave that can be found at the southern end of Copa called McMasters that is surfed by the more relaxed, retired and often the lifeguards (on duty!).McMasters shines as a right hand point break but to avoid overcrowding there is a sandbar that breaks just as well to.



Is a world class point and beach break, hosting people like Taj Burrow who owns a house just off the beach. However, the one time we went to surf it, it didn’t live up to its rep. Although, one of our work colleagues lives and rips there (he’s sponsored by Naish and rides the smallest SUP you could ever imagine… Surfers, just try to telling me that SUP sucks after watching this video of Toby Cracknell ripping it up for Naish…[youtube


Is a down and out shore break, but for some reason it does work. But that might be due to the fact that we’ve been with our great group of friends from ESS Boarstores every time we’ve gone out. The wave breaks into a inch of water and can reach 6ft and get hollow. The atmosphere is surfing through paddling Grockels. However, this is irrelevant when you have a group of ten friends with you weaving between lilos and blow up dinghies.



Very much like Terrigal. However, the class of Grockle goes up due to the multi- million dollar beach houses surrounding it. This is clear upon looking out to sea as you spot a line of fathers pushing their little rippers on foamy boards onto 4ft barrels, which is head high for the little Groms. It’s main purpose is a training ground for Groms due to the option of plenty beaches in the surrounding area offering better surf it’s not the best for the adults.



Although on this trip we didn’t make it out to this break. It is considered the very best on the central coast if not Australia as quoted by the locals. This is a Gnarly point break only accessible by boat, and only rideable in daylight due to shark infested waters. However, the extremely powerful left hand break has been tagged world class by our boss at ESS Boardstore (Mark) take my word for it he knows his way around MORE than a few breaks.


Dawn patrol

It’s the crack of dawn
The rising sun is beckoning you
It’s a routine with nature
Instead of a shower the ocean refreshes
Instead of an alarm clock the sun awakens
But the wind does not
Theres no time to waste every minute that you spend contemplating
The closer the wind gets
As you toss and turn within your four walls, exhausted from staying up watching the screen
You could be grabbing your wetsuit, your coffee and most importantly your board
Tick tock, tick tock
You wake up to the whistling of the wind at your window pane
It’s 11am
You approach the ocean
Other surfers pass by you that have just done the dawn patrol
Talking of clean waves and of a light thats just magical
How can It be you think to yourself?
As you stand there staring at a whipped up windy mess
Day two
Warm light tickles you awake
Instead of tossing and turning your running….
Running down the road with your wetsuit and board
It’s 6am and your greeted by what can only be described as a water colour painting
Soft light, clean turquoise waves and silence
The wind is waiting for the stay up lates, ready to greet them with disappointment. You’re catching wave after wave waking up a little bit more with each one
The ocean is peaceful carrying you in smoothly
 As hours go by the wind starts to brush against you
Reminding you why you are a dawn patroller, not a late nighter!
It’s the crack of dawn
The rising sun is beckoning you
It’s a routine with nature
Instead of a shower the ocean refreshes
Instead of an alarm clock the sun awakens
But the wind does not
Theres no time to waste every minute that you spend contemplating
The closer the wind gets
As you toss and turn within your four walls, exhausted from staying up watching the screen
You could be grabbing your wetsuit, your coffee and most importantly your board!
Tick tock, tick tock
You wake up to the whistling of the wind at your window pane
It’s 11am
You approach the ocean
Other surfers pass by you that have just done the dawn patrol
Talking of clean waves and of a light thats just magical
How can It be you think to yourself?
As you stand there staring at a whipped up windy mess
Day two
Warm light tickles you awake
Instead of tossing and turning your running….
Running down the road with your wetsuit and board
It’s 6am and your greeted by what can only be described as a water colour painting
Soft light, clean turquoise waves and silence
The wind is waiting for the stay up lates, ready to greet them with disappointment. You’re catching wave after wave waking up a little bit more with each one
The ocean is peaceful carrying you in smoothly
 As hours go by the wind starts to brush against you
Reminding you why you are a dawn patroller, not a late nighter!


All rights reserved to Emily Furness

The Gnostic Surfer…

“How you’s goin? (said in a terrible Australian accent)

So, since arriving in Australia I have noticed that there appears to be a strong ‘hippy culture’ amongst the surfing types down under. The laid-back ‘one love’ approach that many surfers seem to have really is magical, especially when lots of surfers come together.
I have changed the way I eat, exercise and just generally live to go hand in hand with my surfing. I’ve made a lot of friends that are great lovers of all things natural and organic, they have inspired me to take a different path with my diet. I’ve found that this has resulted in me having much longer sessions out on the water!
Simple changes such as eating brown pasta and bread instead of white has made me feeling a whole lot better! Also, I now have a obsession with avocados and mangos, there’s nothing more refreshing!
I was shown the most amazing place to shop in a town called Woy Woy on the Central Coast called the Gnostic Corner. Each business is individually owned and as you travel the corner you’ll find that all the business are based on themes, these themes enhance a naturally healthy lifestyle.


‘Keep calm and carry on Yoga’ (Relaxation results in better concentration)

If you’re suffering from aches, pains and niggles give yoga a try! Hold on. Why should surfers do yoga? Well I found that yoga classes really support with physical performance and it helps you to achieve better mental clarity.

I found that yoga really had deepened my connection with the ocean and my awareness of my own spiritual growth. 

‘Get down to earth with organic’ 

Guess what? A commercial Granny Smith apple eaten in April can be almost a year old!

Organic food is higher in nutrients such as vitamin C, antioxidants, calcium, iron, chromium and magnesium, all the good stuff! I’ve never felt so awake since eating more organic produce! One thing I’ve found more hydrating and refreshing than water itself is coconut water! (seriously give it a try).

However, I know the reality of being a true surfer is that you can only just about afford the petrol to make it to the nearest surf. But just little changes like buying organic fruit or brown pasta will make a difference.

Buying any organic food means your opting for a healthier body and mind, better meals and a beautiful environment for future generations. If it’s contributing towards future generations of surfers to also share the privilege of our beautiful beaches why wouldn’t you opt for organic, right?! 


‘What a natural beauty’ 

After a few days salty hair isn’t so great, but if you have been in the natural ocean why wash it in synthetic rubbish! Got a cut, insect bite or just about any minor injury?

Well, I have two simple and organic soothers for it all…. called coconut oil and Paw Paw.. One jar of coconut oil will last you forever. One tube of Paw Paw (Caricature Papaya) will also last you for as long as you live (well almost). As surfers we are forever obtaining new wounds so these products are a must have.

Brrrrr! it’s minus in the UK at the moment and all the sniffs, blocked nosies, and tissues are starting to litter the house. Let’s change that with the help of some eucalyptus poured into a sink filled with boiling hot water and a towel…

Simply place your head above the water with the towel over your head and walah! feel free! I know that your probably thinking ‘but isn’t that just like using vapour rub?!’ Well, it smells a whole lot nicer, and I found works a whole lot better!

All that Christmas stress getting to you? Keep forgetting what your meant to be buying? There is a completely natural herbal pill called Bacopa complex that I’ve just started taking. It has been proven to work in just six weeks of regularly taking it, improving your memory, not just so you can remember your shopping lists in your head, but so you can actually re-remember memories that you might of forgotten. That may sound creepy, but it’s not that drastic, honest!

‘Sukin’ is the best Australian make for all cosmetics their shampoo and conditioner works wonders and it’s heaps natural. Everything is reasonably priced so check it out online as you can order it from the UK!


‘Subtly stylish’ 

I don’t know about you, but as a surfer I don’t really like anything too ‘blingy’ when it comes to fashion. For me it’s all about about the natural vibe. That is exactly the vibe I got from the Gnostic Rocks shop in Woy Woy. It is just amazing, they have just about every crystal and stone that promotes every healing property. They also have the most beautiful jewellery, the best part is you can actually choose a stone or Crystal give it to a jewellery maker, they will turn it into your prized possession for the price of a pint of milk.

All the jewellery and style of the shop is very much mermaid inspired using roughly cut crystals that are naturally tumbled wrapped in rope. I couldn’t get over the simplicity of the beauty they gave off.

Another alternative that I just loved was a holder you could buy in all different sizes weaved together naturally and tied with beads that would hold any sized stone or Crystal of your choice, so it could become a stone wardrobe around your neck. Whatever mood your in, match a stone to that!


Reinvent your board with surf art…

How it all started…

I’ve always loved brightening something up that seemed a bit boring, or making it more feminine. I bought a pack of Posca Pens (surf art pens) off the internet. I’d highly recommend them to anyone that was thinking of giving it a go!

So once they arrived I just thought “hey I am no artist but why not give it a go!.”

My first personal little project was a paddle, it was my boyfriends, but he gave it to me and put a pink handle on it, which inspired me to carry on the feminine theme throughout (really I’m a bit OCD and the rest of the paddle didn’t match the handle). Then after that, I got commissioned to do a striking design on a board for a close friend to use in a surf competition. I knew the kind of thing he wanted, you know the sort of design that would involve hours of blood sweat and tears …. but I like a challenge!

So it was around my A2 exam period and I was starting to have second thoughts about taking another thing on top. But do you know what?! It is so therapeutic, It gave me a break from my academic studying and time to Chillax. I honestly think it was the thing that got me through that hell hole of a time period!

Some Different Surf Art I have done following the steps that I’ve shared with you below…


So I made a little step by step guide for surf art, just from many rainy days that I spent experimenting and finding out the best solutions to preserving your design best under the oceans wear and tear…

What you will need…
Posca pens
Acrylic paint
Tracing paper
Spray paint


Prep work

1 – Start with a sand only finished board if possible, this means that it has to of been sanded past its fibre glass stage or you’ll find that your design wont work as well.


2- I’d highly recommend sketching out your design on paper before applying it to your board.

3- Sketch out a draft on the board using stencils or freehand, this helps you to visualise the design on your board, this will make your design flow and will avoid silly mistakes.

4- Lay the Surf Board facing down, so the side facing up is the one you want to put your design on first.

5- I would recommend stencils if you have a bit of hand, however that can add to the character of the board a bit of wobble shows its custom!


Painting and design

1- Begin sketching or using your stencils starting with the bigger elements first using Posca Pens to fill them in. There are many different sized nib Posca pens that you can buy to use for different elements of your design. It’s well worth investing in some smaller nibs for finer detail (from personal experience of being impatient and spoiling everything).

2- As you are going to lacquer your board anyway, its cool to get uber creative and make something really different using different medias not just sticking to the pens! I managed to create a cool tie dye effect with water colours and a sponge.

3- Layer up the different designs to create depth and dimension, try using a mixture of freehand design and stencilled design, I found that it looks pretty cool!

4- DUN DUN the finishing touches…Now you need to seal the board with some from of lacquer, some recommendations are; acrylic spray or clear lacquer, if you want it to withstand the ocean. However, if it’s going to be more of a piece of art that will be hung up somewhere, then cheap hairspray will work fine.

Keep looking at your design from a distance, it gives you a whole new perspective on your design!

wait that’s not a surfboard, uh sorry dad?!

Urrrrmmmmm yeh be warned it can be addictive..



The barefoot guide to the Central Coast Down Under: Part two

Spoilt for choice

Obviously you’d expect to have a never ending choice of shortboards in Aussie. However, I was so pleased to see that there’s still a big long boarding culture around here. You can pick up a beautiful board from pretty much anywhere. But I’d highly recommend using Gum Tree or Ebay to pick up some cheaper kit that’s still in pretty good condition, as Australians seem to go through kit like there’s no tomorrow.

But I think the thing that’s so lovely about surf equipment sold on the central coast is that some of it it is actually made on the coast, so you’re keeping it local. My favourite store In Umima is called STS it sells BOXHEAD Surfboards which are Custom made by Karl Hassel who also lives in Umina. Overall, you can basically half the price of what you’d expect to pay in the UK for surf equipment. The Central Coast is a gold mine for surf equipment, from shorties, longboards, paddle boards and kites the list could go on. But one things for sure, You’ll feel like a kid in a sweet store as soon as you set foot in a surf store over here!



Food glorious Food!!

Seafood and BBQs are top notch down under. The bigger the BBQ the better over here. My Dad was looking to buy a BQQ and he said $130 dollars is dirt cheap for one, sorry what?!

Aussies are known to spend around $300 dollars up…now thats a BBQ worshipper! For lunch on the central coast I’d recommend finding either a chippie, salad bar or noodle bar, now your probably thinking thats so boring right? The thing is, australians have this amazing way of putting a twist on every dish to just make you go WOW! At a chippie in Aussie you’d expect to find all types of seafood being sold and twists on the average burger such as prawn burgers.

You’ve just been for a surf and are feeling really refreshed and floaty… want to complete that after stoke of a surf even further? Well head to a salad bar the choice is never ending! Therefore your choice should not be rushed, study the salad goodness carefully. The choice is endless, from seafood salads to avocado salads, it’s all so good and reasonably priced at about $9 per dish…BARGIN!

The central coast has pretty much any type of food you could ever wan’t without breaking the bank.


“Ah mate pass the coopers would ya”?!

If you’re going to drink do it the Australian way. Start with Coopers or if you’re really looking to get smashed…Coopers red at around $18 dollars for three tall beers you can’t go wrong. However, as a typical girl I’ve really been enjoying an Australian rosa’ called Pink Moscato ‘Wine of Australia’ its a good one to try for the sweeter people in life.

A place that’s just awesome to drink is a place called New Town, it reminds me of Falmouth in Cornwall back home as it’s full of the arty hippy vibes a quirky friendly place.  Newtown is also a great option if you’re looking for accommodation in the city, but without paying city prices. This is because many students are looking for house shares, which cuts down a lot of costs while also resulting in you making a lot of friends quickly that can show you around.

Accomadation, one word, one website…

Airbnb! I had the best experience of my life through using Airbnb, a experience that you couldn’t get from a travel agent or even by just ‘arriving and going with the flow’. The use of this site resulted in me and my boyfriends accommodation consisting of us having a whole boat to ourselves for five days, situated in the beautiful harbour of Aberdeen in Hong Kong.

The boat was spotless, it had hot running water, wifi, showers, a Apple TV and a kitchen with all the working appliances. The best part about it all is that it was central to Hong Kong, but we didn’t have all the hefty prices that you’d expect to pay for accommodation central to everything.

At just £250 for five nights, try finding that price for a hotel in the city! The site is 100% genuine and safe, you can contact the host of your Accomadation at any time and your payment doesn’t leave your account until 24 hours after check-in.

You can search for anywhere such as Sydney or the Central Coast, you’ll be spoilt for unique choices. These include; the cheaper option of a room you can rent for next to nothing, to private apartments and villas…all for the same price as a room in some cheesy hotel.



The barefoot guide to the Central Coast Down Under…

The Barefoot Guide to the Central Coast Down under part one...

Thinking of taking a trip down under?!

 why are you even thinking about it book a ticket right now. Well maybe just wait a few minutes and read this first (both parts). So I thought I’d give you a bit of an insight into what to expect financially upon visiting the country, so its not so much of a shock to your wallet (But I’ve also included a lot of information thats not about such a dry subject).

I’m currently staying on the Central Coast and loving it, everything’s reasonably priced, theres constant surf, lots of jobs and well everything you could ever dream of it really is paradise. If you’re looking to stay in the city, from experience, as an estimate I’d triple all the prices given. Alternatively I’d recommend staying on the central coast and commute for the experience. The train fare from the coast is only $11 , so it’s a much better way of doing things. Don’t get me wrong the city is awesome, but it gets so so expensive!

The central coast 

It has a massive surf culture but without being to mainstream, many australians living in the cities actually travel to the central coast for their summer holidays. It can be scorching hot but it’s not so humid on the coast, so the heat is bearable unlike other parts of Australia. It sits a third of the way between Sydney and Newcastle, therefore makes it easy to commute but without all the expenses of the city.

At the southern end of the central coast you have the mouth of the Hawkesbury River and Brisbane Water, followed by a National park (so you will see snakes and spiders) and a ray of coves and lagoons, that almost hug all the many small coastal towns. 

A quick glance at some of my fave spots on the central coast…

Terrigal (where you do the touristy thing and can instruct water sports as they teach on the lake there)

– Copacabana (Regional class, good swell direction SouthEast, East, Swell is known to be pretty big but beautifully clean at times with a bit of a harsh rip… not for the faint hearted)

– Avoca beach (WORLD CLASS SURF- literally the list of world class surfers that have surfed the waves of Avoca are never ending)

-The Entrance (great place for kitesurfing and to learn how to kite surf, also a good place for shopping) Gosford ( business city good for a profession)

Blue Bay (works on a NE but beware it has a big reef, not the best for a surf, but great for sunbathing)

Unima (‘A good safe all rounder’ great for paddle boarding as it’s sheltered, it’s popular for long-boarding.  My boyfriend also throughly enjoys a kitesurfing at Unima it can be pumping on a windy day in the right direction)



The black&white guide to finance Down Under….

Expenses you might not know about…

Looking for some bar work, restaurant, or cafe work to earn some dollars to get you by in Aussie?!

Well did you know to work in any any alcohol licensed premises Down-under you need to take a Responsible Service of Alcohol test (RSA) that will cost you around $120? Probably not… I know that I didn’t! The test takes around four hours but it’s all just common sense, the same principle applies to anywhere that offers gambling.

Health costs

At a health centre expect to pay around $60 just for a fifteen minute consultation, then a further expense if treatment is needed. Obviously your health insurance means you can claim it back, BUT it’s such a mission to get it back they don’t make it easy. A good way to get round it is just to take a trip to the local hospital, plus you’ll get treated a whole lot quicker.

Things cheaper than the UK…

Fuel (and it should be seeing as you pretty much have to drive to get anywhere)

-Surf equipment (it is a surfers heaven, I just bought a paddle board that included the bag, paddle and leash for $950 around £520. My boyfriend also just bought two second hand surfboards for $180 dollars in total, they were listed as second hand but they sure didn’t look it!)

Eating out (but thats because the supermarkets are SUPER expensive) -train fares (from the central coast you can get to the city for $11)

Things that are more expensive than the UK…

Clothes (don’t be tempted by all the amazing surf shops) -Supermarkets ( they’re pretty pricey, I’d recommend at all to costs avoid the chain brand Woolworths they’re the worst for prices. Coles is a much cheaper Australian super market, plus they sell very similar things!)



Alcohol (thinking of staying in with some booze for a cheaper option? ummm think again in Aussie! A bottle of wine at its absolute cheapest will be costing you $15 and spirits well don’t even go there…

My price guide for the basics…

Night out $100 (at the least) Super market shop for the week if you do it budget style $75

Second hand short board $200 Paddle board $1,500 (look on Ebay and gumtree you could pick up a brand new board for $900) Full tank of petrol $40 Train fare to the city $11