Fakaofo is the atoll closest to Samoa. Some 400 people live on tiny 4.5-hectare Fale Island, which is well shaded by breadfruit trees. The two-story administration building on Fale housing the transportation office, police station, post office, and village store was completed in 1989.
To relieve the overcrowding, a second village was established in 1960 on the larger island of Fanuafala, about three km northwest. At low tide you can walk across the reef between the two.
The school, hospital, and the TeleTOK (telephone company) headquarters are now on Fanuafala, which has a pleasant beach and good swimming on the lagoon side.
An ancient coral slab erected to the Tui Tokelau stands in the Fakafotu Falefono (meetinghouse) at Fale. This stone may once have exercised supernatural power. On the lagoonside beach opposite is the hakava (family meeting place) where visitors are sometimes accommodated in an upstairs room.
The freighter Ai Sokula can be seen on the reef at Ahaga Loa, where it was wrecked in 1987. Guano, a fertilizer formed from bird droppings, is collected on Palea, a tiny motu on the east side of the atoll, for use in nearby taro pits.
Over a thousand pigs swim and forage for shellfish in reef pools near the settlements on Fakaofo (the only swimming pigs in the Pacific). Their pens and enclosures must be on the reef itself, since every bit of land on Fale is used for human housing.