“Bula!” It’s a friendly greeting, a wish for good health, and a welcome to Vomo Island as our small boat approached the beach. We stepped onto the sand to more enthusiastic “Bulas” as we were whisked to the reception area where our arrival was anything but routine. There, a few dozen women and men gathered together and sang to us. Although we couldn’t understand the words, the sentiment was clear. It was a warm welcome, ending in a shout of “Bula!” and smiles all around — the perfect introduction to our vacation in this South Pacific paradise. By Patricia Doherty
Vomo Island resort is the perfect introduction to your vacation in this South Pacific paradise
The morning was sunny after an 11-hour flight from Los Angeles that seemed to transport us magically to Nadi Airport where the boat to Vomo Island awaited. It wasn’t actually magic — the trick was a Fiji Airways flight that departed around midnight, a late dinner, wine, and a cosy bed where we slept until daylight. Anyone can dream their way to Fiji on that nonstop flight, whether it’s a splurge on business class, with lie-down seats and fluffy bedding, or a flight in the airline’s comfortable and affordable economy section.
Our beachfront villa, secluded among abundant palms, flowering trees, and shrubs, was a few steps from the sea, with a deck, lounging area, and spacious bathroom. A winding path brought us to the Reef Restaurant for breakfast where the servers already knew our names. As the days went on, we got to know theirs as well.
The outdoor tables at the Reef face the ocean and a large pool, where children were splashing, jumping in, climbing out, laughing, and shouting — all safely within view of their parents or the solicitous “baby butlers” who care for Vomo’s littlest guests. It was delightful to watch them — and this is from someone who usually makes a beeline for the adults-only pool. What I saw confirms the words on the Vomo website: “The Fijians are renowned for their care of children. Their happy disposition ensures children feel warmly welcome and safe.”
A visit to the Kids Village explained why we met many families who return to Vomo each year. Open every day from 9 am to 9 pm, the Kids Village features both outdoor and indoor play areas; complimentary care for children ages three to 12; toys, games, and crafts; and a dining deck with a kids’ menu. Activities include ball games, hermit crab hunting, picnics, storytelling, Fijian dance and language lessons, and more. Vomo’s baby butlers care for children under age three, and arrangements can be made for childcare until 11 pm, so parents can enjoy dinner and an evening on their own.
Adults have their own areas too. The Rocks, set on the western tip of the island, is perfectly positioned for the best sunset views, and there’s an adults-only pool, cabanas, restaurant, cocktail bar, and complimentary afternoon canapés. The Kui Spa, where we enjoyed excellent massages on the day of our arrival, is another place to find a quiet, serene environment.
Highlights of the trip for me and my travel companion — my sister-in-law, Irene — were the snorkelling excursions. Supplied with our equipment and instructions, we confidently slipped over the side of the boat and into the midst of marine life and coral in a variety of shapes, textures, and hues — a colourful undersea garden. Ledges that dropped into deep crevices in the volcanic sea bottom were fascinating and momentarily unnerving until I realised I was safely floating on the surface.
In addition to offering several different snorkelling trips, Vomo encourages guests to enjoy the ocean by providing certifications through the PADI Dive Center. The courses combine theory with practical tasks and a commitment to creating passionate, environmentally aware, and safe divers. Vomo’s guests enjoy reef access through a PADI Open Water Certification Course or a Discover Scuba Diving Course with unlimited diving opportunities during their entire stay.
Irene and I enjoyed a secluded picnic on a volcanic island a few minutes by boat from Vomo Island, with time to explore a cave or two and pick up seashells, several of which were occupied by tiny hermit crabs. Poolside cooking demonstrations, fish feeding, tennis, fitness centre, hiking, kayaking, and a nine-hole pitch and putt golf course offer more ways to spend time.
A glimpse into Fijian culture
Wednesday evening Meke and Lovo night events were not only great fun, but they provided a glimpse into Fijian culture, celebrated at Vomo and shared with their guests. The day starts with the preparation of the Lovo pit, where some dishes for the evening’s buffet dinner are cooked under the ground in the Fijian tradition. The festivities include singing, the men dancing in native dress, and then the women and children, including baby butlers, swaying with babies in their arms. Kava, the national drink made from the roots of a western Pacific tree, is created in a ceremony and shared with guests.
“We would someday return to Vomo Island”
Accommodations at the 225-acre resort range from villas to luxurious hillside and beachfront residences with ocean views, infinity pools, full kitchens, and multiple bedrooms. The new four-bedroom Taleitaki and the five-bedroom Reef House are both stunning. I toured several of the homes, including the one where Australian film star Rebel Wilson stayed while filming a campaign for Tourism Fiji. The spacious residences are ideal for groups — another reason for the resort’s popularity with families.
As is always the case, the greater the vacation, the sadder it is when it comes to an end. That was true of our Vomo Island visit as we checked out and readied for our boat ride to the airport. Once again, the staff surprised us with a lovely song, this time a farewell that, I admit, left us a bit teary and even more certain that, like many others, we would someday return to Vomo Island.
(This story first appeared on travelandleisure.com)
(Hero and Feature image credits: Courtesy of Vomo Island resort)