Wayne and Warden, two ex-Navy men, have stayed on in the Pacific islands following WW II, Wayne to operate a saloon called Donovan's Reef, Warden to raise a Polynesian family, despite the fact that he has a mature daughter in Boston. Joining Wayne to celebrate his birthday (December 7)
is Marvin, who jumps ship and swims ashore to Haleakaloa. There, he and Wayne renew old friendships by beating each other to pulps, but all in the vein of roughhouse comaraderie. Into this raucous atmosphere comes grownup Allen, in search of her father, Warden. Wayne and Marvin busy themselves
with protecting their friend's image by pretending that Warden's three Polynesian children ...