Fiji’s great astrolabe reef
Kadavu Island is best known for the Great Astrolabe Reef. The fringing barrier reef system runs along Kadavu’s southern shore then arcs north-east passed Ono Island up to Buliya Island – famous for manta ray snorkelling. It stretches for over 100 kilometres and is recognized as one the world’s best premier dive secrets. There’s a bunch of deep passages, that larger fish such as giant grouper and reef sharks frequent. Just imagine peering over a steep soft coral covered reef slope and seeing manta ray gliding through the deep channels below.
Named after the French ship Astrolabe, the Great Astrolabe Reef, is a breeding ground for big fish like tuna, marlin, giant trevally and sharks. The environment makes for adventurous and colourful diving, with sites like Naiqoro Passage where you can experience big fish action against a background of colourful soft coral coated walls.
But Kadavu has plenty of gentler sites too offering encounters with mantas and other pelagics in shallower, sheltered waters around the islands of Ono and Buliya. Some of Kadavu’s more recognized and featured dive sites include:
A maze-like system of tunnels, basins and archways, each as stunning as the next.
One of The Great Astrolabe Reef’s signature dives. The topography here features towering pinnacles, huge boulders and narrow channels and almost vertical sheer walls. The nutrient-rich oceanic conditions in the Great Astrolabe Reef create a seemingly endless food supply chain for all the sea creatures that inhabit here.
Here, the gold and green seafan branches extend out and make the perfect home for a rainbow theme of fish species such as angelfish, parrot fish and silver perch. Turtles, banded sea snakes and the occasional hammerhead shark are all found cruising around Seafan Alley.
Dive resorts are dotted throughout the island, each having access to a range of dive sites from the 63m long Pacific Voyager Wreck, to the Muto Marine Protected area and the Great Astrolabe Reef. Many of the resorts’ fringing reefs are easily snorkelled too. The remoteness of Kadavu means that resorts are run sustainably, with eco-friendly, yet comfortable (and sometimes luxurious) facilities, and you can expect that much of what’s served on your plate has come from a local garden.
Nai’a Liveaboard is one of the best ways to get around to these dive sites.
To get to Kadavu, it is an hour’s scenic flight from Nadi. There are scheduled connections to Suva too.