Kadavu Island

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Kadavu (pronounced [kanˈdaβu]), with an area of 411 square kilometres (159 sq mi), is the fourth largest island in Fiji, and the largest island in the Kadavu Group, a volcanic archipelago consisting of Kadavu, Ono, Galoa and a number of smaller islands in the Great Astrolabe Reef. Its main administrative centre is Vunisea, which has an airport, a high school, a hospital, and a government station, on the Namalata Isthmus where the island is almost cut in two. Suva, Fiji's capital, lies 88 kilometres to the north of Kadavu. The population of the island province was 10,167 at the most recent census in 2007.

Kadavu Island belongs to Kadavu Province.


Map of Fiji, showing Kadavu (in red) to the south of Viti Levu
Kadavu on the map of J.P.Thomson, 1889

The island is 60 kilometres (37 miles) long, with a width varying from 365 metres (1,198 ft) to 8 kilometres (5 miles). The island is almost sliced in two at the narrow Namalata Isthmus, which separates Namalata Bay on the northern coast from Galoa Harbour on the southern coast. Within Galoa Harbour lie Galoa Island and the tiny islet of Tawadromu. Kadavu is characterized by its rugged and mountainous terrain. The tallest mountain is Nabukelevu, also known as Mount Washington, which stands at 805 metres high, on the western end of the island.

Mount Washington (Nabukelevu)

Kadavu still has 75% of its original rainforest cover and a rich bird diversity, including four species endemic to the island, the velvet dove, the crimson shining-parrot, the Kadavu honeyeater and the Kadavu fantail, in addition to several endemic subspecies (such as a subspecies of the island thrush). Offshore, stringing around the south, east and then away to the north, is the Great Astrolabe Reef, a large barrier reef that is one of Fiji's premier scuba diving resorts.

Coastline on Kadavu

Economy and culture[edit]

Over much of Kadavu the rainforest still reaches to the sea.

Kadavu is one of the least developed areas of Fiji. There are few roads, and the local economy is largely dependent on subsistence farming, supplemented by exports to Viti Levu. The main commercial crop is yaqona (known as Kava around the Pacific islands). There are no banks on Kadavu. Tourism is becoming popular, however, with snorkeling and diving among the major attractions. The chiefly system in Kadavu gives much greater authority to local chiefs than most other areas in Fiji, where local chiefs are more often subservient to a few "paramount chiefs."

On 17 December 2005, Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo, Chairman of the Kadavu Provincial Council, announced major development plans to build roads throughout the island and to upgrade jetties, improving Kadavu's links with the mainland. He revealed that much of the finance would be provided by the government of Taiwan.


William Bligh was the first known European to sight Kadavu, which he discovered in 1792 on his second voyage to Fiji on the HMS Providence. He was followed in 1799 by the United States vessel Ann & Hope, skippered by C. Bently en route from Australia. In 1827, French commander Dumont d'Urville nearly shipwrecked the Astrolabe on the reef that now bears the vessel's name. The island later became home to beche-de-mer traders, as well as whalers from Sydney, Australia, and New England in the United States. Galoa Harbour became a regular port of call for vessels carrying mail between Sydney, San Francisco, and Auckland.


Well-known Kadavu names include former Foreign Minister Kaliopate Tavola, former Forests and Fisheries Minister Konisi Yabaki of Tiliva village, James Ah-Koy, former Minister for Finance, Senator, and businessman, Apaitia Seru, former Attorney General, Minister for Justice and Chief Magistrate, Akuila Yabaki, a Methodist minister and political activist, and Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo, Chairman of the Kadavu Provincial Council and of the Fiji Kava Council. Yet another noted Kadavuan was Jesoni Vitusagavulu, Fiji's former Ambassador to the United States (appointed in 2005). Also Colonel Matereti Sarasau of Dagai village, Dr. Sitiveni Ratuva of Yale village, and Rev. Inoke Nabulivou of Dravuwalu village, past President of the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma. Another notable Kadavuan is the immediate past Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Mosese Tikoitoga. A comprehensive list of well known Kadavuans can be found on the page, "Kadavu Province" available at the top of this page.


  • Fiji. By Korina Miller, Robyn Jones, Leonardo Pinheiro - 2003- Page 230
  • Oceania by Australian National Research Council, University of Sydney, Published 1930, Editors: Apr. 1930-Mar. 1931, A.R. Radcliffe Brown; Sept. 1931-Dec. 1932, R. Firth; Mar. 1933- A.P. Elkin. Pages 145 to 148. Original from the University of Michigan.
  • Scottish Geographical Magazine By Royal Scottish Geographical Society, Published 1999, Pages 123 to 126.

Sofer, Michael (2007) Yaqona and the Peripheral Economy Revisited, Asia Pacific Viewpoint, Vol. 48(2), pp. 234–249. Sofer, Michael (2009) Twenty Years of Change in the Fijian Periphery: The Case of the Kadavu Island, Fiji, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, Vol. 30, pp. 343–357. Sofer, M. (2015) Kadavu Island: Adaptation and stagnation in the Fijian periphery, Miscellanea Geographica: Regional Studies on Development, Vol. 19(2), pp. 14–20. DOI: 10.1515/mgrsd-2015-0006

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 19°3′S 178°15′E / 19.050°S 178.250°E / -19.050; 178.250