The love affair with the heart-shaped island of Tavarua began in the early 1980s, when an American yachtsman sailing through the isles of Fiji saw a reef pass lighting up without a soul in sight. The gossip about this tropical beauty spread fast, and in little time the island had suitors flocking from every corner of the world to sample her offerings. It has since become an exotic nymph for touring surfers, a trophy wave flaunted in mags, brags, films, and contests. The temperamental mistress draws them in, giving worthy beaus the barrel of a lifetime and grilling overzealous expats on the shallow reef at Shish Kebabs.
Jon Roseman first surfed Tavarua in ’89, and he fell in love, hard and fast. “I came down for a week back when it was a rustic surf camp,” says Roseman, “and I realized very quickly that I didn’t want to leave.” This warranted a move from Southern California to the Southern Hemisphere, from condos to tree houses, Bud Lights to Fiji Bitters. Roseman is the co-founder and managing director of the Tavarua Island Resort, but he’s first and foremost a goofyfooted saltwater addict whose nirvana exists in the hollows of Cloudbreak and Restaurants.
“A lot of people envy my setup, and I imagine that is easy to do looking in from the outside,” he says. “In reality, there are good days and bad days—you see a lot of raw life, with the life-threatening injuries, high local-mortality rates, cyclones, tsunami alerts, floods…but it’s all part of it, right in there with the sun and great surf.”
“After 24 years, it’s become home,” he says. “It was the easiest call I have ever made. I immediately fell in love with Fiji, the waves, and the people. The staff and villages have completely become my family; they are truly what make Fiji paradise. Of course, the wave is amazing too.” —Josh T. Saunders