Small island, big playground: My week on Namotu Island, Fiji’s premier surf resort

Cloudbreak in all its glory. Photo: Beau Blake

Fiji is one of those destinations whose reputation precedes it. White sand beaches, turquoise waters, bustling reefs, breathtaking waves and some of the friendliest people in the world – this is the stuff of which postcards and dreams are made.

A lifelong surfer and water sports fanatic, Fiji has been on my radar for some time. So when the opportunity arose to spend a week on Namotu IslandI boarded a plane with my eyes glued to warmer waters.

Typing into the South Pacific, the Fijian joy and hospitality was a stark and welcome contrast to the hectic LAX sailing – the air was warm, morale was high and the pace of life slow and simple. From the airport, a short taxi ride brought us to Momi Bay where we hoped for a speedboat en route to our final destination: Namotu Island.

Arrival at Namotu Island. Photo: Beau Blake

Fiji is home to 333 islands, twenty of which are part of the Mamanucas, a volcanic archipelago west of Nadi and south of the Yasawa Islands. Namotu Island, first established as a resort in 1994, is the southernmost island in the chain. The all-inclusive resort is home to eleven beachfront bures and spans just two acres. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in plenty of opportunities for adventure.

Upon arriving at Namotu, we were greeted by the sounds of steel string guitars and joyful singing while wearing shell necklaces. After a quick overview of the rules (there are none), we were shown around the property and given a look at the surrounding waves and surf forecast. The sun was shining and three generous swells were announced for the week: our crew was foaming.

Some of the friendliest, happiest people you will ever meet. Photo: Beau Blake

Namotu is home to seven world-class surf breaks: Swimming Pools, Namotu Lefts, Wilkes Passage, Tavarua Rights, Restaurants, Desperations and, of course, Cloudbreak.

Swimming Pools and Namotu Lefts stand out directly from the island. Namotu Lefts is a reef break on the left offering long rides while Pools is on the right with translucent waters that make you feel like you are surfing in an aquarium. Wilkes is located just off the island and is a powerful right that breaks over a shallow reef offering long, hollow waves.

The rights and restaurants of Tavarua stand out from the neighboring island of Tavarua. Tavy Rights works best at mid-tide with light wind and is fun, right-handed, ideal for a variety of watercraft. Sometimes called “Cloudbreak’s little brother”, Restaurants is a long, hollow left-hand reef with a shape similar to Cloubreak but less of a punch. When waves are scarce, Desperations is the place to be – a right and left peak that breaks a point and is one of the most consistent spots in the area.

Considered one of the ten best surf spots in the world, Cloudbreak is a site worth visiting. Whether you want to disembark or just watch from the boat, the power and beauty of the wave is unmatched.

After a day on Namotu Island, we settled into a routine. We would rise with the sun, stretch with yoga, then sail down a boat chasing the waves. After a morning of surfing we would return to the island and have lunch – some people would retire to their rooms for an afternoon nap while others would head back out for an afternoon session. Evenings were filled with fresh ahi, beachside cocktails, and sunset volleyball games, as the sense of community is strong on the island.

When the waves had dropped or the wind had picked up, there was still plenty to do on the island. Fiji is home to some of the most stunning and biodiverse reefs in the world and Namotu is no exception. Located right in the center of a bustling reef, the flat days were a good opportunity to explore the reef via stand up paddleboard or don a mask and dive below the surface.

Beautiful, both above and below the surface. Photo: Beau Blake

As well as surfing, Namotu offers foil, kite and fishing charters, as well as a number of landlocked activities, so there’s something for everyone, whatever the weather. Although surfing will forever be my MO, the combination of activities was the recipe for an idyllic week.

Fiji is one of those places where you misplace your shoes and forget you brought anything other than a bathing suit. It is a place with a rich culture where you feel at home the moment you arrive. It is a place that will forever be in your mind and in your heart. Fittingly, when you leave the islands, you don’t say goodbye, but rather “sota tale”, which translates to “until we meet again”.

Harold B. McConnell