Before the Second World War, a palm tree plantation was started here, known as Palmalmal Plantation. The area also had a Catholic Mission, headed by Father Edward Charles "Ted" Harris.
In April 1942, 156 Australian soldiers and civilians gathered at Pal Mal Mal after fleeing Rabaul. They were rescued by MV Laurabada, which then transported them to Port Moresby. Later, the port was taken over by the Japanese, and remained in their hands until the area was liberated on 4 November 1944. The Australian Army constructed Jacquinot Bay Airfield in 1944-45.