Cathy and Lisa Wagstaff connect with Vomo, a private Fijian island resort surprisingly close to the mainland.
A palette of blue and aqua flows below us as we pass over coral reefs and islands, some so tiny they look as if a wave might wash over them. We are leaving the Fijian mainland behind and heading into the Mamanucas, a volcanic archipelago that strings together some of the most pristine islands in the Pacific. Our destination is Vomo Island, a reef-ringed private island spanning just 91 hectares. My daughter Lisa is with me and buoyant with excitement; this is her first time in a helicopter.
It’s only 15 minutes after taking off that we are sinking our toes into the white coral sand, watching the sun spread its crimson wings across the ocean. The view is most magnificent from the Rocks Bar on the island’s western tip, where the craggy outline of the nearby islet of Vomo Lailai is silhouetted against the pink-and-golden sky. We sip cocktails and watch as the sun slip into the ocean. This area will soon have an adults only pool added.
We wander past the spacious self-contained residences, built to accommodate up to eight guests in lavish style. These retreats, secluded away from the main resort, offer astonishingly good value for groups of friends and families – more so than booking two or more villas, the general manager tells me – combined with gourmet kitchens, private pools, outdoor dining, media rooms and a butler service. Delta Goodrem is among the recent guests to have enjoyed the hospitality in one of the two newest residences, The Palms and The BeacHouse.
The Palms is the largest with four bedrooms surrounded by pools and water walls, immersing you in the extraordinary seascape of Yasawa Beach and beyond. The large oceanfront lap pool is partially covered (perfect for families) while the bedrooms feature ensuite bathrooms open to the stars; a glittering reminder of your tropical destination. The BeacHouse epitomises relaxed living, with elegant Dedon furnishings and customised statement pieces in teak. The three-bedroom residence wraps around the infinity pool, making the water a centrepiece, but it’s also perfect for multigenerational celebrations, with an outdoor barbecue, 200-bottle wine fridge and even a pizza oven for inhouse creations by the Vomo chefs.
There are 28 Villas spread along Yasawa Beach and elevated up on the hillside, separated by lush gardens and endless coconut palms; agile staff members happily shimmy up them in order to retrieve fresh coconuts to accompany our lunch. Dinner this evening is at the stylish Reef Restaurant. White linen clad tables surround the pool lit only by candlelight. We dine on freshly caught seafood and crisp white wine. The local band sings hypnotic melodies with the breaks in between filled by the sound of gentle waves lapping against the sand. Morning greets us with a brilliant blue sky and it’s hard to determine where it ends and the ocean begins. We board the boat for a snorkelling tour and head out to an off-shore reef where the water is like a warm bath. We float and swim alongside peaceful reef sharks, clownfish and other tropical ocean denizens darting through the coral.
Better than you could have ever imagined
Imagine a Fijian island resort, and you’re probably picturing Vomo. One half of this palm tree-blanketed isle is untouched and Vomo Lailai, or Little Vomo, is just a short boat ride away, a popular spot for scuba diving, snorkelling in the sparkling waters and romantic picnics. Unique and private gourmet experiences are a specialty of Vomo and new executive chef, Preeti Bomzon. You can dine at the top of the island on the secluded yoga deck overlooking the reef-spotted lagoon or settle into the palm-fringed sand on a private stretch of Yasawa Beach with a torch-lit dinner as we choose to do. Our meal of succulent lobster and fresh seafood is prepared by Chef Chris and served by an elegant butler beside the ocean, followed by a decadent dessert of berry-adorned chocolate mousse.
A breath of fresh air after disaster
Although there are more active options available, including walking up Mt Vomo and complimentary non-motorised water sports galore, we opt for a morning of indulgence at Kui Spa with a restorative Signature Body Massage. Over 90 minutes, our muscles are eased with a blend of Sodashi plant oils and aromatic plant essences, and we’re lulled into relaxation by water trickling in the reflective pool outside. One of our most memorable experiences is chatting with general manager Mark Leslie over a glass of wine. His tales span working in Michelin-starred kitchens in London, serving as Nelson Mandela’s personal chef and finessing island resorts in the Maldives and Seychelles. He is fascinating and we wish we had more time to spend with him.
He has most recently guided Vomo through a period of rejuvenation and rebuilding in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Winston, and he points out some of the updates: a new reception area, opened up to take advantage of the natural breeze; the extension to the Rocks Bar, eventually to become an adults-only beach club with pool; and a cold larder room in the restaurant that keeps breakfast fresh and protected by day, and transforms into a chocolaterie and fromagerie by night. The trees that went down during the cyclone are being turned into furniture to feature in the rooms: “It’s going to be a bit of a story about the cyclone,” explains Leslie. “So something is given back, not just taken.”
Vomo is not just an island resort; it represents a distillation of everything we love about Fiji. Time seems to stand still on the island. We are cut off from the rest of the world in a way that makes us feel more connected – particularly as mother and daughter. We’re only here for a few days, but we feel an affinity with Vomo that only deepens as our helicopter takes off back towards Nadi.
Experience the island magic with Vomo Fiji, with accommodation including all meals. Fiji Airways flies from Brisbane, Sydney and Melboure to Nadi. Island Hoppers offers 15-minute helicopter transfers between Nadi International Airport and Vomo Island for FJ$990 return per person. The 90-minute South Seas Cruises ferry transfer departs from Denarau Marina. For more information about tourism in Fiji, click here.