The island had served as a coconut plantation for natives. In 1941, when the United States declared war on Japan, the island natives abandoned it when the Imperial Japanese Navy swept over the Solomon Islands. After the United States captured Guadalcanal, they were able to use the airfield to bomb out the Japanese garrisons on nearby islands. Pavuvu was one of them. This island served as temporary home to the U.S. 1st Marine Division, starting in May 1944 after their action on Cape Gloucester, and again after their action on Peleliu. After the war, the natives returned to the island and resumed the coconut plantation.