The sunlight twinkled on the water below as the seaplane sped high overhead, the bright blue of the ocean broken only by the white-tipped caps of the waves, clear and revealing of the dark reefs below. Small islands fanned out in front of the plane, some inhabited and some deserted, all rising sharply, hilly and volcanic in nature.
The pilot slowed down and dropped altitude, bringing the engines to a quiet hum, lowering down toward the reefs and landing in the shallow water just offshore of a small island and its white, sandy beaches.
For visitors to the private island of Vomo, this dramatic entrance is just the beginning of the exotic excursion.
Vomo Island is part of the Mamanuca island chain that sits just offshore from Fiji’s main hub of Nadi, and it is accessible via a 15-minute seaplane or private helicopter flight. Many other islands in the chain have attracted attention over the years thanks to the show Survivor, which was filmed in the area, and Cloud 9, an internationally known floating bar and watersport experience.
Yet, despite its proximity to those locales — and its selection as the site of a 2017 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue shoot — Vomo Island has remained an exclusive secret, serving quietly as an example of Fijian luxury in the archipelago. It caters to those who seek out solidarity, with a seductive chill factor that sits well with romantics.
Rising above the resort is a small hill with a hiking trail that leads to a panoramic view of Vomo and its surrounding coral reefs. From here, the island’s appeal becomes obvious. With only 32 rooms on 225 acres, it’s small enough to be completely explored, yet large enough to find your own secluded space —be it a white sand beach, a coastal cove or a grassy hillside — to feel like you really are on your own personal swath of heaven.
From that overlook — which is best visited at sunrise — the resort grounds and upscale bungalows look pristine, and in-the-know travelers will appreciate what Vomo Island has endured the past two years to keep it that way.
In 2015, the resort underwent an extensive multi-million-dollar renovation, only to see it destroyed by Cyclone Winston last summer. The storm damage was so severe that it forced the resort to close for six months to rebuild. Out of the tragedy, rose an even more lavish playground, what with an extra $10 million put into the property for additional upgrades, including two new beachfront residences with private pools.
“It has been a challenging time, but we’ve rebounded better than ever, and the enhancements we’ve made during this closure has been our silver lining,” said resort general manager Mark Leslie. “We now have two of the most impressive private homes in Fiji and a refreshed resort.”
The entry-level accommodations at Vomo include seven hillside and 19 beachfront villas. Each of the oceanfront rooms features a porch with a water vista and provides direct beach access. The hillside villas are a nice perch for those who want a more expansive view of the island. Both are designed as sophisticated modern cabanas with large soaking tubs and private porches.
The two private beachfront retreats offer even more luxe accommodations with larger verandas that wrap around from the front to the side as well as an outdoor tub and shower, providing the perfect option for larger families or couples looking for more space.
The larger residences will really make your eyes pop, starting with the brand-new four-bedroom private villa dubbed The Palms. The sprawling floor plan blends the outdoor and indoor living spaces, while a lap pool and running water walls ensure a tranquil stay.
Also available are the three-bedroom Beachhouse, Royal Villa and the four-bedroom The Residence. All of these spacious units keep you at arm’s length from the rest of the resort.
During your time on Vomo, you might take advantage of the resort’s PADI Dive Center or daily snorkeling outings. But the most notable offering is the opportunity to spend the day on Vomo’s small sister island, Vomo Lailai. Located just offshore from Vomo proper, the tiny uninhabited stretch makes for a memorable romantic retreat, where you are dropped off with a gourmet picnic lunch and a radio to call the staff when you want to be picked up or when you run out of champagne.
Despite being in the middle of the ocean on a private island, Vomo offers an impressive culinary program providing refined yet authentic Pacific Rim cuisine that uses locally sourced ingredients such as coconut, seagrass, local mud crab, organic dark chocolate and, of course, incredibly fresh fish.
At the far end of the island is Rocks Bar, open daily from 5 to 7 p.m. for sunset drinks and snacks. Its large patios and comfortable seating make it the place to be for happy hour — that is, if you haven’t already found your own slice of sand and laid out a blanket somewhere under a palm tree.