Jon Roseman grew up surfing the local reefs around his home in La Jolla. Like most kids, he drew pictures on his schoolbook covers of perfect waves breaking off the end of an island. Little did he know that one day he would be the owner of a little heart-shaped island in the Pacific.
Arguably, the world’s best surf destination is Tavarua Island Resort located just off Nadi in Fiji. The island is small, only 29 acres. In the mid-1980s, two traveling surfers, Scott Funk and Dave Clark, were flying into Nadi when out of their plane window they spotted perfect waves peeling of a small island. After some searching they learned it was Tavarua Island. They soon built the first ever surf resort there and hired surfers to work as lifeguards to protect their guests. One of those lifeguards happened to be a traveling surfer named Jon Roseman.
Once Roseman got to the island in 1989, he didn’t want to leave. He spent six months on the very primitive island working as a “boatman” and soon fell in love with the island and the native Fijians. He worked on Tavarua for four years and then found out that the original owners were looking to sell their piece of heaven. Roseman and a co-worker organized a plan to buy them out and become the new majority owners of the resort. Having a background in management and knowing that he didn’t want to see the island fall into the hands of a big corporation, Roseman borrowed money from friends, family and guests and made his dream a reality.
You would think that if you owned your own island you would never leave, but Roseman still maintains his roots in La Jolla and splits time between the island and his beachfront home at Windansea beach. When asked if he ever would want to move to Fiji permanently, he did not hesitate to say that while he is at times torn between the two, there is no better place to live than San Diego. He loves the beaches, being near downtown and most of all, the people. He said the places in San Diego that he misses while he’s away are the horse races at Del Mar, the Downtown nightlife and his favorite coffee shop, the Windansea Cafe.
Roseman has always been one to give back and since taking ownership of the island in 1992, he has invited local friends and surfers to come to Tavarua Island and work, like he once did, as a boatman. It’s the kind of job offer that can change a person’s life. I should know. He invited me to work there back in 1995 (thanks again, Jon). Over those 20 years, a hundred people have held the position and even pros like Shane Dorian and Aamion Goodwin have worked the job in trade for perfect waves. If you ever have a chance to visit the little heart-shaped island, don’t hesitate. It will change your life.
To learn more about Tavarua Island, visit tavarua.com. To book a vacation, contact waterwaystravel.com
As a lifelong San Diegan, Ken Lewis has surfing and ocean life in his DNA. A 30-year surfer himself, Lewis has worked in the surf and skate industry for most of his career. Send him your thoughts about the surfing world to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Instagram @hanger18.