The Great Astrolabe Reef, the world's fourth-longest barrier reef, skirts the eastern and southern sides of Kadavu and extends to the north around Ono and other islets. Much coral inside the Great Astrolabe is bleached (the northern reef is closed off even to live-aboard dive boats), but its outside slopes have plentiful hard corals and sea life, including a veritable herd of manta rays that gathers at the so-called Manta Pass on the south coast. In other words, the Great Astrolabe is best for hard corals and abundant sea life. It also is exposed to the usually strong southeast trade winds, which can make for rough boat rides and strong swells on the outer reef.

On the other hand, the Namalata Reefs and King Kong Reef off the usually protected north shore are known for colorful soft corals, and advanced divers can explore the 71m (235-ft.) Pacific Voyager, a tanker deliberately sunk in 1994 to form an artificial reef.

Diving here is handled by the resorts, which have their own operations.

Kadavu is not Fiji's best snorkeling destination, since most of the lagoons are shallow close to shore, and the good coral is too far out for a safe swim. Exceptions are a colorful reef just off Dive Kadavu/Matana Beach Resort and around Waya Island off Matava -- The Astrolabe Hideaway. You will need to pay your resort for a snorkeling excursion, or go along on a dive expedition to see the best coral and sea life.

Kadavu's many quiet bays, protected lagoons, and mangrove forests make it Fiji's top kayaking destination. The resorts have kayaks for their guests to use, and they will organize overnight paddling trips. Longer excursions are best arranged in advance. Tamarillo Tropical Expeditions (tel. 877/682-5433 in the U.S., 4/2399 855 in New Zealand; offers guided 5- to 9-day Kadavu kayak expeditions. You paddle all day and stay in villages or resorts at night.

The resorts also organize sport- and deep-sea fishing, which is very good both in the lagoon and offshore. Marlin, sailfish, and wahoo are among the abundant fish in these waters.

The 11m (36-ft.) charter yacht Safari is based at Matava -- The Astrolabe Hideaway , from where it makes day sails, sunset cruises, and longer voyages. The boat has three staterooms, but usually only one couple at a time is allowed on overnight trips. Contact the resort for details.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.