Nukufetau is the closest outer atoll to Funafuti (102 km) and the second largest after Funafuti in lagoon area. Some 37 narrow islands sit on the atoll's barrier reef which is 38 km around.
Large ships can enter the lagoon through Teafuone Passage in the west, and unlike Funafuti's, the lagoon at Nukufetau is relatively safe for navigation and offers some protection from the westerlies.
Seabird colonies occupy some of the easternmost islands.
In 1943, the Americans constructed a wharf and an X-shaped airfield on Motulalo Island, across the lagoon eight km east of the present village. During the Gilbert Islands campaign this was a bomber base intended as a backup for American bases on Nanumea and Funafuti, but unlike the other two, Nukufetau never experienced a Japanese air raid. Quite a bit of military debris remains today.
A two-room Island Council Guesthouse is next to the primary school in Savave village.
If outer island tourism is ever to be developed in Tuvalu, Nukufetau would be the logical choice for a small resort.