Two 19th-century sailors, Abner (Dana Andrews) and Tom (Don Dubbins), jump ship after their captain, Vangs (Ted de Corsia), refuses them shore leave and warns them what a dangerous place this particular island is. They disobey him and soon discover their tropical paradise is a cannibal stronghold.
There are two tribes on the island, one friendly, but the other, the Typee, a cannibal tribe. Jimmy Dooley (Arthur Shields), a white man like themselves, befriends the newcomers and offers them a "hideout," but it turns out Dooley has been hired by Vangs to find his missing men.
Abney becomes acquainted with the beautiful Fayaway (Jane Powell), adopted daughter of the chief, Mehevi (Friedrich von Ledebur), from a long-ago relationship between a shipwrecked sailor and a native girl. When a fight between tribes breaks out, Tom wants to flee but Abner likes island life and the girl. He fights with the Typee and saves Mehevi's life.
Tom takes off, determined to get away from here and back to civilization. The chief approves of the love between Abner and Fayaway and permits them to wed. But soon comes the discovery that Tom did not get away, and when Abner and Fayaway interrupt a cannibalistic ritual, they are sentenced to death by Mehevi.
When they try to run, Abner makes it back to the boat but Fayaway does not, a warrior piercing her with a spear. Abner carries her back to the boat and to Vangs, who once again understands why his sailors should never venture onto land.
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