FHTA Sustainable Tourism: Transforming Namotu into a Sustainable Surf Resort

FHTA Sustainable Tourism: Transforming Namotu into a Sustainable Surf Resort

FHTA, 9 July 2022 – Their tagline is ‘Small Island, Big Playground’ – so very apt for the Namotu Island Surf Resort Fiji team.

It really is just a small island but with an amazingly beautiful, huge, blue playground that has been providing surfers from around the world access to some of Fiji’s best surf breaks including Cloudbreak and Namotu Lefts.

But while they’re busy with keeping guests entertained, fed and relaxed, they ensure that they are safeguarding the surrounding environment; considered the heart of a wide variety of thriving reefs that provide a gateway to another world of vivid turquoise waters, abundant with beautiful corals, teaming with an amazing variety of colourful tropical fish and marine life.

The sales and marketing blurbs do not do justice to the worlds above and below the ocean in this area and have to be seen and experienced to be forever smitten.

This is why their primary goal is to ensure they keep their slice of paradise clean and healthy. Not just for the pleasure of guests now and well into the future, but for the local Fijian community that calls the area their home, and the incredible array of creatures that live and thrive here as part of a delicately balanced ecosystem of humans eating, playing and moving around, with teeming marine life and the ocean itself.

As a result, Namotu has been benchmarked by STOKE, an organisation that specialises in working with ski and surf resorts to make them more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

STOKE is the Sustainable Tourism and Outdoors Kit for Evaluation and it is the world’s first sustainability certification body with standards built specifically for surf and ski tourism operators and destinations.

And as a STOKE certified surf resort, guests are provided with the confidence that their stay there is having a positive impact on the destination and helping to solve global sustainability challenges.

Namotu’s, (and indeed many other island accommodation providers), the biggest challenge is that everything they need to run a luxury surf resort must be brought in by boat.

While there isn’t a way around this, Namotu has consciously decreased the number of trips they make in order to lessen their carbon footprint.

Being a sustainable surf resort means operating in a way that preserves the local environment, culture and economy, and having been in operation for 25 years, they are determined they’re still here for a long time to come.

Over the past years, pre and during COVID, they have updated many of their practices from wastewater treatment to what is stocked in the boutique and restaurants as well as how they manage any waste.

Undergoing the STOKE certification process has been an invaluable way to go even deeper and assess the big and small, but so important aspects of Namotu that have helped to hone their operation into a more sustainable one.

In 2018 they implemented a brand new and very impressive bio-cycle wastewater system.

This multi-step system of tanks and pumps results in two valuable products; the first is water good enough to drink (and used to keep the island landscaping lush) and as a bio-degradable fertiliser that is safe to use around the resort gardens.

This system also prevents any runoff or seepage from septic tanks which in turn helps to keep the reef systems protected.

The resort is also passionate about and responsible for maintaining its fish stocks and has collaborated with the relevant authorities to turn the reefs around Namotu into a protected Marine Park.

This means they’re now able to keep illegal fishermen out of their immediate area and prevent them from removing the critical fish stock, turtles, giant clams and crustaceans, some of which have been made almost extinct in other reefs in the region by uncontrolled fishing practices.

Their fishing Captains use sustainable and controlled fishing practices, ensuring certain species are ‘catch & release’ only, while others are size-limited or monitored as seasonal catch only.

The only fish they use in their resort kitchen is what they catch themselves; nothing imported or unsustainably sourced and they can even track each fish from ocean to plate.

Namotu is unique for many reasons but perhaps its perfect shape with the rocky tip pointed into the prevailing South Easterly (Trade) Winds and sandy beach with deep water boat access at the opposite end means it’s easier for them to move around without damaging the reefs.

It is this natural blessing that helps them provide a surf boat use for guests throughout their stay.

But it also means their beach is perfect for turtle nesting, for which there has been an increasing number each season.

The nests are logged, roped off from human interaction and efforts are made to ensure the local communities are made aware of the importance of letting nature take its course.

And if you’ve been lucky enough to experience it, there’s nothing more exciting than witnessing these tiny turtle hatchlings make their way into the water to start their life in a different world!

Plastic waste reduction efforts include conscientiously reducing plastic use in their restaurant and bar by offering water bottle refills rather than single-use options amongst other efforts.

The drinking water on the island is from desalinated seawater and is also UV filtered so it tastes great as well!

Food scraps are composted or sent to local farms for animal food and recycling is separated and dealt with accordingly.

Used surfboards and sporting equipment are donated to local villages, and they are transitioning to more economical 4-stroke outboards where possible.

There are so many things to consider when you’re a small island resort, so maintaining their sustainability is something they are constantly working to improve and add to, while sharing widely with their staff and community.

With just 11 rooms and the ability to sleep 24 guests, they employ around 60 local staff, not including their transfer partners and local suppliers. Despite their size, they have become a renowned brand for surfing in Fiji and around the world.

Although Namotu was never an inhabited island, it is part of the cultural lands of the Malolo Island people from which the island is leased, providing substantial financial and social assistance through a variety of channels.

It is this connection to the vanua that inspires Namotu to preserve their pristine surroundings for future generations to also enjoy.

For information on the above, you can contact FHTA (info@fhta.com.fj) or contact Namotu Island Surf Resort Fiji directly.

Published in the Fiji Sun on 9 July 2022