It will take some doing to get to all the way to American Samoa, but who cares? The incredible payoffs you'll find here will make your time spent in the air well worth the effort because American Samoa is an eco-tourism haven where 90% of the territory is an untouched, sun-drenched, tropical paradise.
Forming the eastern arm of the Samoan archipelago, these stunningly beautiful volcanic islands promise to leave you wanting to come back again and again. Tutuila is the largest of the five islands in American Samoa and is where the capital Pago Pago is located. The topography here is truly spectacular with majestic peaks reaching out from the ocean, covered by a rainforest which is home to a unique and diverse flora and fauna.
Throughout the islands, you will enjoy the historical, cultural, and natural environments of this fairly undiscovered destination. There is no mass tourism, no five-star resorts, or outlet malls, and do not let the name of this sovereign U.S. territory fool you. These islands are less developed than neighboring Samoa in terms of tourism. In American Samoa, you'll experience a very laid back ambiance steeped in deep values and traditions, where you can unwind and relax, or explore and engage in numerous activities.
Visiting the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa is a must do. The sanctuary is actually comprised of six protected areas, covering about 13 and 1/2 square miles of nearshore coral reef and offshore waters across the entirety of the Samoan Archipelago. The sanctuary is operated by NOAA, who not only protects the waters here, but also conducts extensive research. On Tutuila, you can go to Fagatele Bay which is a beautiful eroded volcanic crater with snorkeling just off the shore.
The National Park of American Samoa is three parks, on three separate islands--Ta'u, Ofu, and Tutuila. Unlike other U.S. National Parks, where the land is protected, these parks also help to protect "fa'asamoa", the customs, beliefs, and traditions of the 3,000-year-old Samoan culture, the oldest among all the Polynesian Islands. Park rangers can also help with visits to Ta'u and Ofu.
If you happen to have a really good boat and are up for the adventure of a lifetime, go to Swain's Island, which is a small atoll north of Tutuila and not actually part of the Samoan archipelago, but the Tokelau group of Islands. It would take more than 20 hours to get there from Pago Pago! The island's status is somewhat unique. Part of American Samoa, but not really, and you would need to ask for permission because it is privately-owned. If you turned up, the very few people that live there might be happy to see a friendly face or two. If you can't make it, you could always watch the documentary that Jean-Michel Cousteau did about it a few years ago.
All over American Samoa you will experience the lush green landscapes and beautiful dramatic coastlines. Simply enjoying nature, taking hikes and mingling with the locals is a great way to pass the time here. Slow down and enjoy a relaxed pace, you worked hard to get here!
You don't go all the way to American Samoa to not enjoy the local marine environment, do you? Whether you snorkel or dive, this is some of the best aquatic life you can see anywhere in the world and the waters are absolutely pristine. American Samoa has a healthy variety of fish and coral, making underwater explorations the highlight of these islands. There are many places where you can go right from shore and several places that the locals can bring you to by boat, including the other islands. American Samoa also happens to lie between two identified breeding areas of the humpback whale who will even give birth in the American Samoan waters. The whales begin to show up as early as July with the peak season being September and October. There are a few whale charters and sometimes you can see them from the shore in a few places like Aunu’u Island. It is said that during the high season this is almost guaranteed for you to see humpback whales here. Other places include Amouli Beach Fales, which is a village on Tutuila that overlooks the Aunu’u Channel.
If you are looking for that perfect almost-deserted island, look no further than the Manu’a Islands and make your way to Ofu Beach. According to the Travel Channel, this is one of the most beautiful beaches you will find anywhere in the world. The airfare will set you back a pretty penny, but that and the lack of posh resorts are the price you will have to pay for enjoying the incredibly breathtaking scenery, sublime waters and the lack of commercialism.
For a taste of local culture and cuisine, the Fagatogo Market is a great way to experience Pago Pago. Best visited on the weekends, the market opened in 2010 for fisherman and farmers to sell their goods and it has become a socializing hub. On Friday nights they sometimes have live music adding to the hubbub of this charming market.
When To Go
In American Samoa, the temperature rarely falls in or out of the 80's during the day and the mid-70's in the evenings. For the best vacation weather, the time to be in here is between June and early October. This is the time of year when you will enjoy less humidity and far less rain with shorter durations. There is still the possibility of rain anytime of the year because of the tropical climate in the South Pacific, but the likeliness of a typhoon making an appearance is much less than it could be in other months.
The most ideal months for a visit are July and September. The good news is that even though this is the so-called "high season", you will never feel overwhelmed by crowds, except for those days when a cruise ship show ups. These might be good days to expand your horizons and venture off to other islands.
Be aware that even though American Samoa is a United States territory, they do require that you have a passport for entry into the country.
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