Destinations / JOURNEY
PICTURE A TIN Y four-acre island surrounded by a national marine reserve, perched on the edge of a bar- rier reef, six miles off the coast of Fiji. While one can literally walk around this pebble of paradise in seven minutes, don’t be fooled; there’s plenty to do. Most
guests will either be out in the water enjoying one of the many
aquatic activities, including five world-class surfing wave breaks
or the equally impressive diving and fishing. Lounging is big here
too, under an umbrella either by the pool, out on the beach or on
a balcony of one of the private bures (villas).
The island holds 24 vacationers at a time, and usually the
entire resort is booked by a group. Many of the clients are
returnees converging for an annual tropical surf, sail, kite-board or fishing adventure. Why? The gin-clear water?
Aforementioned world-class water sports? Probably, but according to TripAdvisor it’s the people. “The service for such a small
place is excellent. Great, very friendly people. It’s like staying at
your close friend’s place, only much better equipped and well-staffed,” one commenter wrote.
It’s a relatively simple trip: 11-hour flight from SFO to Nadi
(pronounced Nandi) on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu; quick-ish shuttle in a private van to get breakfast at the Sofitel; then a
25-minute boat ride to the resort. Oh, and once you step off the
boat and into the sand, shoes are optional the rest of the week.
HISTORY In 1994, Namotu Island was nothing more than
a sandbar with one coconut tree. Enter three visionary water-
men with a goal to create the ultimate water sports retreat. They
had the main ingredient, an island paradise sur-
rounded by some of the best ocean conditions on
the planet, but were missing one thing: drink-
able water. To get water, they built tanks under
every bure and structure on the island to col-
lect rain runoff. Twenty years later, the loamy
sand now supports a thriving tropical forest with
coconut palms and native Fiji flora.
ACTIVITIES Surfers from all over the globe
consider the famous waves of Namotu and its
neighboring island Tavarua a mecca. The five
breaks (Cloudbreak, Restaurants, Swimming
Pools, Namotu Lefts and Wilks) are so admired
they are part of the world surfing tour every
year. The area is likewise great for windsurfing and kiteboard-ing and features some of the best conditions for both. The
South Pacific is also a legendary fishing and diving attraction
for guests at the big resorts on the mainland. Namotu guests
are welcome to jump on the island’s fishing boat at sunrise or
sunset to help catch the next meal.
EATS Every four to six weeks, a different private chef from
somewhere on the planet, usually Australia or the U. S., comes to
Namotu to prepare the meals, which include steak, fresh-caught
fish, chicken, tacos, pizza and fresh sushi and sashimi. There is
always a vegetarian option and each meal of the day is accompanied by a healthy salad of Fijian-grown produce.
NOT TO MISS After a day of surfing, windsurfing, snorkeling or just skull draggin’ (getting slowly towed behind a boat for a
motor-assisted snorkeling tour of the reef), nothing compares to
sunset at the Waqa Bar. As the sign says, “Happy Hour 4–7 p.m.,
Same Price — Extra Happy!”
RATES The island’s infrastructure was built in 1995 but a two-year renovation has just been completed of half the bures. Eight
individual private bures are now available, as well as a three-bedroom house with two bathrooms and a family-style dorm bure
that sleeps up to six. Rate packages include three meals a day, all
water activities including boat rides to the surf breaks and trips
on and off the island. Prices start at $2,400 per person for a week’s
stay. namotuislandfiji.com B Y MIKE WALTZE
NAMOTU ● FIJI