- Bliss and Beauty by Nina Heiberg
Perfect surf. Sun and wind. No crowds.
White beaches and glassy, clear water. Colorful fish and friendly people. How much better
can a vacation get?
I went to Namotu with my friend Tracy
Kraft for two weeks at the end of March 2003. Out of all the travels I have done, this
trip was different in that it was an eye-opening experience. Never before have I been able
to simply relax and enjoy the surroundings like I did on this trip. Tracy and I arrived at
Nadi airport at sunrise on March 23. We were met by one of the Indian staff of Namotu who
helped us load all of our kiteboarding, surfing and camera gear into the Namotu van
before we set out for about a half hour drive to the western coast of Viti Levu. Driving
through the country side of Fiji we caught a glimpse of the local style of living. Cows on
the road, Fijians and Indians getting ready to go to church on a Sunday morning, children
with sleepy eyes getting ready for their day of play.
Once we reached the coast, we could spot two tiny specks on
the horizon. Namotu and Tavarua island were in the far distance as we helped log our gear
into the Namotu Hunter, the boat that had come to take us to the island. The
Fijian boatmen, Tomasi, Joe and Numalu were all smiles and cheerily welcomed us with
BULA! (hello in Fijian). Im sure they were used to seeing
the excitement that was in our eyes as we started the seemingly endless boat-ride to the
island. It is only a thirty minute boat-ride, but it felt long, because we were so eager
to step foot on that speck of an island that we could see in the distance. Once on the
island, Tracy and I were like children, energized and ready to get out in the surf
as soon as we could. We met Mandy and Scott OConnor (the managers of the
island and also good friends of mine) and chatted for a while, then ran to our room and
unpacked our surfboards, waxed them up and got a ride out to the surf.
Perfect surf. Sun. No crowds. Glassy, clear water, fish
beneath us. How much better could it possibly get? We caught a bunch of waves, then went
in for lunch. Fresh fish, salads, quiche. Yum. As soon as we were done with our lunch we
were ready for more fun. Still no wind, it was still early, so we grabbed our
snowboard boots, and headed to the beach with Scott and Mandy. Scott drove the boat while
I went foilboarding. I couldnt believe how clear the water was. With the foil, I had
a perfect overview of the reef, and I spotted bright blue and yellow fish. The sun
pierced the turquoise water and lit up the reef like nothing Ive ever seen before.
No wonder one of the private surf-spots of the island is called Swimming
Pools. Tracy took pictures from the boat, Scott and Mandy were laughing and I
was simply stunned by the beauty of this place. I had forgotten everything about school,
everything about studies of the Middle East and the war in Iraq, everything about the
bills I had to remember to pay when I got back from my trip.
It was as if time stood still on Namotu. Time stood still
in my real life, yet time was flying by, because I was having so much fun.
After foilboarding, my legs were like jelly. But the wind was starting to pick up and I
stopped thinking about my jelly legs because I was thinking about which kite to pump up
and which board to use. I rigged my 17.3 GK Lift, grabbed my brand new SOS board and
headed out. No one else was in the water. No one. The wind was steady,
the water was flat. Namotu is the only place Ive kited where you can have all kind
of conditions in the same session. Its amazing, because the island is so small that
you can kite around it and choose which conditions youd like to ride. In the
front of the island, the water is flat. On one side of the island you can ride port tack
waves. On the other side of the island you can ride starboard tack waves. It has
such a variety to it, its crazy. It must be the best for training, since
you have all imaginable conditions in one, small area
It felt surreal to be kiting in
such a perfect paradise by myself. After a few hours of kiting and my legs feeling more
like they were ready to fall off, Tracy and I jumped into the hot-tub with a Pina colada
and some of the lifeguards.
The cook, Angus, came out with some fresh sashimi and sushi
that we gobbled at the edge of the hot-tub. The sun was starting to set and the colors
bounced off the ocean and clouds making it feel as if we were simply characters in a
watercolor painting. As the sun was setting I pondered my place in the world and realized
how small I am, how insignificant in comparison to the sun that was threatening to sink
into the ocean. The setting was too perfect to be able to imagine a war anywhere, too
perfect to imagine the suffering that exists. Everything bad seemed to disappear,
to be distant and instead of Namotu being surreal, the world outside of Namotu became
surreal. My thoughts about the world were cut off when I heard the Fijian drums
thundering. The drums are the signal for dinner time. Sade was playing in the
background, setting the tone for a mellow dinner with food that makes you want to eat till
you burst. The guests were chatting, recapping surf and fishing stories of the day, Tracy,
Mandy and I were giggling and recapping funny stories of wipeouts and bikinis out of
I saw nothing but sunburned, happy faces and big white
smiles. As we were finishing our Crepes Suzettes I heard the Rap Music playing from the
bar and we headed inn to dance. The girls were dancing, some of the guys were sitting at
the bar watching, people were chatting, the music was pumping and I was smiling both
inside and out. Tired after an eternally memorable day, we headed back in the tropical
night to our beach bure and passed out as soon as our heads hit the pillow. My
dreams were filled with waves and surfing, colorful fish, and friendly people. As
the sun started casting orange stripes on the wall I was gently reminded that a new day of
fun, games and childlike bliss was ahead. Every single day on Namotu gave me a
feeling of gratitude, a feeling of delight, a feeling of having found a safe-zone in this
crazy world. It was a reminder that even in these times of horrible political actions, it
is possible to be happy. It is possible to remain compassionate and concerned for those
who are suffering, but yet be able to enjoy the beauty of the world. Namotu is a place of
peace, a place of enjoyment, a place where people respect and appreciate each other.
Namotu is my long lost paradise.
- Bula = hello/welcome
- Yanuyanu = island
- Yaqona = kava
- Wasawasa = ocean
- Cakau = reef
- Ika = fish
- Bula na cagi = windy
- Siga = sun
- Vinaka = thank you
- Marau = I am happy
The Republic of Fiji consists of about 400
islands. Namotu is part of the Mamanuca (mah-mah-moo-tha) islands about 1/2 hour boat ride
from the west coast of Viti Levu (which is the main island with the Nadi international
airport). The population of Fiji is a little less than 800,000 and consists of about 50%
indigenous Fijians and 45% Indians.
- Fijian Winter: Mild, dry season is from May through October
with average temperatures of 72F/22C.
- Fijian Summer: Warm, wet season is from November through
April with average temperatures of 78.5F/26C.
- The trade winds usually blow about 10-20 knots from May
through October, but there are sea breeze winds that kick up in the afternoon throughout
traveling to Namotu?
- Contact Sara at "Waterways Travel":
- Waterways Surf Adventures
- 22611 Pacific Coast Hwy.
- Malibu, CA 90265
- Phone: 888 669 SURF (7873) or 310 456 7744, Fax: 310 456
Special thanks to:
- Globerider Kites for sponsoring the trip
- Mandy and Scott O'Connor for their hospitality and
- The staff of Namotu for their smiles
- Tracy Kraft for being a great friend and a talented
- Da Kine, Roxy, SOS:Sean Ordonez, MPG: Scott Sanchez