The Green Challenge: Transforming Namotu Into a Sustainable Surf Resort

namotu coral reef sustainable eco surf resort

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

We are just a small island with a big, blue playground. It’s our goal to ensure we keep our slice of paradise clean and healthy, not just for the pleasure of our guests but for the local Fijian community and the incredible array of creatures that live among it. One of the biggest challenges for us is that everything we need to run a luxury surf resort must be brought in by boat…

What is a Sustainable Eco Surf Resort?

Being a sustainable surf resort means operating in a way that preserves the local environment, culture and economy. Namotu has already been operating for 25 years but we want to make sure we’re here forever. Over the last couple of years we’ve updated a lot of our practises, from wastewater treatment to what’s stocked in the boutique and restaurant and how we handle our waste. Undergoing the STOKE certification process has been an invaluable way to go even deeper and assess the big and small aspects of our resort to hone our operation.

The reef on our waterline: all guest bures are just a few yards from the ocean. Beau Blake photo.

Some of Namotu’s Eco Additions

In 2018 we implemented a brand new and very impressive bio-cycle waste water system (we think so anyway). This multi-step system of tanks and pumps results in two valuable products; the first is water good enough to drink (we actually use this to water the gardens), and, the second is fertiliser that’s safe to use around the resort gardens. This system also prevents any runoff or seepage from septic tanks which helps to keep the reef healthy.

The Namotu Marine Park

We’re passionate about and responsible for maintaining our fisheries (we love fishing!) and have collaborated with with local authorities to turn the reef around Namotu into a Marine Park. This means we’re now able to keep illegal fisherman out of our immediate area and prevent them wiping the reef clean of tiny reef fish, turtles, giant clams and crustaceans, some of which have been made almost extinct by the practise.

Our fishing Captains use sustainable fishing practises, certain species are catch & release only while others are size-limited or seasonal. The only fish we use in our resort kitchen is what we catch ourselves; nothing imported or unsustainably sourced and we can even track each fish from ocean to plate.

The view from Wilkes Passage over Namotu and to Tavarua with the mainland on the horizon. The reef around Namotu and Tavarua Islands is now a Marine Park. Beau Blake photo.
We are part of a giant clam breeding program aimed at repopulating the area with these beautiful creatures that have been overfished and almost become extinct in the area. Video by Glenn Duffus.

Namotu’s Turtles

Namotu is unique for many reasons but perhaps its perfect shape with rocky tip pointed into the prevailing South Easterly (Trade) Wind and sandy beach with deep water boat access at the opposite end means it’s easy for us to come and go without damaging the reef. It is this natural blessing that helps us provide unlimited surf boat use for guests throughout their stay. But it also means our beach is perfect for turtle nests, of which there are an increasing number each season. We log these nests, rope them off and educate locals on their importance. There’s nothing more exciting that witnessing these tiny things make their way into the water!

Just after 6pm one of the endangered Hawksbill turtle nests on the island began to hatch. The eggs were laid in January with a six to eight week gestation period. There were over 150 hatchlings which all made a bee line for the ocean. All the turtles made it into the water safely and swam away quickly. Joli photo.

Reducing Plastic & Minimising Waste

We are always looking to reduce our plastic use in the restaurant and bar by offering water bottle refills rather than single-use. Our drinking water comes from desalinated sea water and is also UV filtered to taste great! 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 is donated to local villages and we are transitioning to more economic 4-stroke outboards where possible. There are so many things to consider but it’s something we are constantly improving and sharing with our staff and community.

namotu island mizu waste reduction eco resort
We stock Mizu reusable bottles, cutlery and water filters in our boutique. Stu Gibson photo.

Cultural and Economic Sustainability

Namotu Island resort has just 11 rooms and sleeps 24 guests yet we employ around 60 local staff, not including our transfer partners and many local suppliers. Although Namotu was never an inhabited island, it is part of the cultural lands of the Malolo Island people. We lease Namotu from this village and provide substantial financial and social assistance to them through a number of channels. For example we provided food during the pandemic and always send school supplies.

The staff putting on an incredible show during our weekly Fiji Night. Beau Pilgrim photo.

We’re also very fortunate to support the Fiji Dental and Medical Foundation who began as our surf guests and soon saw the need to bring their skills here to support the community. Today we work with them to provide the Mamanuca Island locals dental care they would not otherwise recieve. In March 2020 they treated over 500 adults and children. You can find out more HERE.

fiji dental medical foundation solevu
Some of the Solevu Village children who now brush their teeth each lunchtime after over 8 years of education, treatment and donations from the Fiji DMF. Sasha Hutchinson photo

We have one of the most renowned Fiji Kava Nights where our staff dance traditional dances, sing a range of Fijian songs and invite guests to a formal kava (yaqona) ceremony. The night of food, song and dance is our way of educating visitors on this very important aspect of local culture.

On this night we serve entirely Fijian traditional foods and the staff join us for dinner in the main dining area where guests and staff mingle as family. We believe that everyone who visits Fiji should get a taste of the local culture so it’s not only appreciated, but preserved and respected by locals and visitors alike.

The traditional kava (yaqona) ceremony every week. Stu Gibson photo.

If you’d like to hear more about Namotu’s sustainability management protocols you can download our guidelines HERE.

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to keep up-to-date and we hope to see you in Fiji very soon!

Vinaka vakalevu (thank you very much)