Strike-slip earthquakes near major subduction zones have received less attention than thrust or reverse earthquakes in subduction zone areas. The occurrence of the 2018 Palu Mw 7.5 earthquake in eastern Indonesia provides an unprecedented opportunity to investigate the characteristics of one of these events. The Palu earthquake occurred on the left-lateral, north–south-striking Palu–Koro fault, which is the main plate boundary structure accommodating the convergence between blocks in a triple junction area. It excited a significant tsunami, which unusually is associated with strike-slip earthquakes, and also ruptured at a supershear speed, which is mostly observed on strike-slip faults in continents. Based on our fieldwork, we speculate that the normal slip component of the offshore rupture section in Palu bay on the middle segment probably favours tsunami genesis. Our field investigation has revealed evidence of a simple geometry as well as slip partitioning of dip-slip and strike-slip motion on two subparallel strands on the main segment, both of which may have contributed to the supershear of the rupture propagation. Instead of only a transtensive behaviour of the middle segment, our results also illustrate the transpressional property of the northern and southern rupture segments, which shows more complex behaviour than that of a common continental strike-slip fault.