By Jenny Hewett
Apr 25, 2022
THE RHYTHM OF MY BREATH DRAWING through my snorkel steadies me as I slip like a drop of water into the ocean. My nerves are stirring, but the audible sound of life flowing in and out of my lungs calms me, as it always has in this setting. Shrieks and fluttering fins churn up the water around me as the five young sisters on our boat spot what’s below us. We’re in ‘Shark Alley,’ a patch of reef a 45-minute boat ride from luxurious Vomo Island, in Fiji. I submerge my face in the water. Around six or seven curious blacktip and whitetip reef sharks up to more than a meter in length are circling the reef below us, their tail fins elegantly undulating in time with my breath.
“You can be here for two weeks and not do the same thing,” says guest services manager Tim when we discuss how I should spend my days at this all-inclusive, design-oriented resort on an 87-hectare private island at the convergence of Fiji’s Mamanucas and remote Yasawa Islands. And while you may not want to do anything but stare, starry-eyed, at the pinch-me views of the black volcanic rock Vomo Lai Lai (little Vomo) from the resort’s sexy infinity pool all day, it’s just as easy to occupy yourself, too. With daily snorkeling and diving trips, hikes, surf charters to Cloudbreak or sunrise breakfasts atop a hillside, nature does all the heavy lifting here.
As a Fiji virgin, I’m surprised to learn that Vomo resort was built on this private island more than 30 years ago. You certainly wouldn’t know to look at it. There was a major renovation in 2015, and the rooms and common areas still feel fresh. My free-standing ‘Beachfront Haven’ is footsteps from the piercing green sea and appointed in neutrals, with a massive ensuite and one of the most functional hotel wardrobes I’ve ever seen. The beach chic vibe is uniform throughout the resort, which is all raw, greying timber, baby blues and clean whites. General manager Justin King, who previously headed up Tasmania’s haute, conservation-minded lodge Saffire Freycinet, is a master of restrained luxury and his gracious, down-to-earth demeanor compliments the Fijian hospitality to a tee.
The hot topic when I visit is a previous guest. When I ask Tim about Aussie actress Rebel Wilson’s stay here to film a campaign for Tourism Fiji, he’s quite nonchalant. “I chaperoned her like I’ll chaperone you,” he says with a sly smile. Originally from the neighboring Yasawa Islands, Tim towers above most of the staff here and his natural way with guests makes his official title seem underwhelming. He’s kind of like that well-connected friend you always wish you had on holiday, and knowing I’m desperate to snorkel with sharks, he works his magic to get me on a private charter another family has organized during my stay.
On my second morning I wake early to join one of the daily Vomo Fit sessions with in-house instructor, Ifereimi Naruma. A couple of embassy dads and their young daughters are also up catching the worm, and we’re put through or paces on a pool circuit with a view that’s so distracting it’s hard to focus “Most of the boys are rugby players, so we got to keep them fit,” Ifereimi says of the staff. As befits family-focused Fiji, Vomo Island is that perfect balance of being family friendly, without being overtly so. The kids club is split into two age groups, Little Islanders and Little Chiefs, and The Rocks pool and dining area facing Vomo Lai Lai is exclusively a no-children zone.
I eat most of my meals at Vomo Island at The Reef, the main restaurant, which overlooks a swimming pool fringed by palm trees. There’s an entire room dedicated to fruit and juice at breakfast and the menu changes daily, grilled lamb cutlets one day and a mezze grazing platter the next. An ice-cream station seems to appear out of nowhere one afternoon, with the toppings promptly raided. It’s been years since most of us have had the opportunity to travel and everyone is living their best lives. “I’m getting a frozen lemonade from the mocktail center!” a young girl shouts to her friend as she rushes to the bar.
Tim has been keeping an eye on the weather since I arrived. “I think it’s going to be good tomorrow morning,” he says. “I’ll call you at 5 a.m. to let you know whether it’s going ahead.” At 4:55 the next day, the phone rings and I drag myself out of bed. As the buggy nears the peak of the hillside on the far side of the island, I spot my breakfast. Set upon a table with a neat white tablecloth, and perfectly timed to the sunrise, the spread includes a bottle of champagne, cured meats, chia pudding, pastries and 360-degree views of the surrounding islands. Sunrise, sunset or snorkeling with sharks, give nature an opportunity to show off here and it will.
vomofiji.com/the-island; doubles from FJ$8,760 for four nights minimum, all-inclusive.
All photos courtesy of Vomo Island Fiji.