Planes, buses, and boats. And then, after about 18 hours of travel, we waded ashore onto one of the worlds most famous surf resorts—Tavarua. With the island’s native Fijians singing their welcome on the beach, the Nixon High Tide Hold ’Em got under way.
Tavarua is, of course, famous for its flawless surf. Cloudbreak and Restaurants are drooled over by any surfer, north of south of the equator, but with some spotty weather, and just a bit of wind swell pushing through out at Cloudbreak, there weren’t exactly all time conditions on tap for our first two days here. Not that that really matters, though. Firstly, the waves were still fun—better than back home at least, and the water’s a whole lot warmer too. Plus, the good thing about the spirit of the gathering that Nixon’s put together is that the people who’ve joined us aren’t the type to just sit on their asses, and whine, and wait for the surf to come up.
“When we sat down and decided we wanted to host a surf trip,” says Nixon’s Brandon Lillard, the mastermind behind the Hold ’Em challenge, “we didn’t want it to be just ten dudes on some secluded beach waiting for waves. Instead, we thought it would be fun to bring good people together in a good place and challenge them a little bit in everything an island like this has to offer. For some, that might be riding perfect surf for hours on end. For others, it might be their backhand on the tennis court, or at the ping-pong table. Or, it could be fishing and diving. There’s tons to do, and anyone who’s here can participate as much, or as little, as they want to.”
Most seemed eager to get cracking from the start, and with that mentality in mind, as soon as everyone settled into their respective quarters, the pool deck came to life and boats began buzzing in and out of the beach. Some warmed up riding longboards at Kiddy Land while others tried their hands at small, peaky Cloudbreak. Mark Healey and Aamion Goodwin promptly went out and killed a few fish. “That thing’s not even worth putting on the scoreboard,” said Healey of the 3-pound unicorn he shot. But small or not, it gave him an early lead in the spear fishing comp. But besides Yadin Nicol’s “Island Spirit” bid, which saw him running around the bar in his birthday suit, Healey’s fish, and another pole-caught 27-pound walu, reeled in by superhuman skater Danny Way, not much has gone up on the scoreboard yet. Everyone still seems to be settling in, feeling out the competition, and waiting for the games to really begin.
And with some surf rumored to be headed our way, things could get interesting in the next few days. Plus, there’s still plenty more fishing, poker and pong to be played in the meantime, so check back in with NixonNow.com and SurferMag.com as the Nixon High Tide Hold ’Em continues to unfold.