Atafu Atoll Map
Atafu is the smallest of Tokelau's three atolls with only 3.5 square kilometers of dry land. Its central lagoon measures only 17 square kilometers, a third the size of the Fakaofo lagoon and a fifth the size of Nukunonu's lagoon. There’s no reef passage and you can walk and wade right around the atoll in a day.
According to an old Polynesian legend Tokelau's three atolls were pulled from the sea by the Maui brothers while on a fishing trip far from shore. Much later the atolls were settled by Polynesians who arrived iby canoe, bringing the Polynesian staple taro with them. The European discovered of Tokelau was Captain John Byron of the HMS Dolphin who arrived at Atafu in 1765.
Atafu is the most traditional of the atolls and the only one where dugout canoes are still made. Some houses with thatched roofs survive in the one village at the northwest corner of the atoll (few of these remain on the other atolls).
Thanks to the efforts of the London Missionary Society in Samoa, Atafu is a staunchly Congregationalist today. The strict morality extends to drinking the local homebrew made with yeast and sugar. Those caught partaking face a stiff fine.
Atafu is one of the most isolated communities in the South Pacific. There's no anchorage off this island and the monthly supply boat from Apia must remain on guard for any change in the winds as it lies offshore.