This coral and volcanic island has a land area of 53 square kilometres (20 square miles). Its maximum elevation is 283 metres (928 feet). The island is characterized by steep undercut cliffs, with fertile volcanic soil. It is well watered and has hot springs. There is an extensive reef system, including the islets of Qilaqila Bay. The main village on the island is Lomaloma.
Vanua Balavu boasts of the Yanuyanu Island Resort, an airstrip, a copra port, and a small hospital. There was also the Lomaloma Copra Biofuel Project which provided power to three villages, Naqara, Sawana and Lomaloma, however it is now defunct.
A large sea cave on the southeastern tip of Vanuabalavu was excavated and shown to have been used by humans more than 10 centuries ago.
A notable person from Vanua Balavu is Laisenia Qarase, Fiji's Prime Minister from 2000 to 2006, who hails from the village of Mavana. Other prominent Vanua Balavu natives are the academic leader Esther Williams, from Levukana village, former Attorney-General Qoriniasi Bale, from Levukana village, and prominent former politician Filipe Bole, also from Mualevu village. Charles Walker, a former politician and Fiji diplomat hails from Sawana village.
Mere Samisoni, businesswoman and politician, comes from the village of Lomaloma, as does the former Lami Mayor Tevita Vuatalevu, who hails from the village of Mavana. Current Flying Fijians Josh Matavesi and Sam Matavesi who was born and raised in Cornwall, England is also a native of Vanua Balavu through his paternal line.