The only American land below the equator, the territory of American Samoa consists of seven beautiful, tropical, volcanic islands and two coral atolls. It lies some 2,300 miles south, south-west of Honolulu and its nearest neighbour is Western Samoa a mere 25 minutes away by jet. Six of the islands are inhabited. Tutuila is the largest and has the most population.
CAPITAL AND MAJOR CENTRES
The capital Pago Pago sits on one of the most spectacularly beautiful harbours in the Pacific region. You can best admire its perfection from lofty Mount Alava.
The Samoans, who are of Polynesian extraction have lived here for more than 3,000 years. Their culture is rich in tradition and places great emphasis on the extended family. English is the language of business and most Samoans speak Samoan and English.
The first inhabitants migrated from the west possibly by way of Indonesia, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga to the eastern tip of Tutuila near the present village of Tutuila around 600 BC.
Chief Tui Manu'a Elisala signed the deed of cession before WW1, and only then because he was forced to after a famous trial called "The Trial of the Ipu". After this his people were able to enjoy the privileges of American citizenship. It wasnt until WW2 that the Samoan islands acquired strategic importance and that road, airport, docks and medical facilities were built.
In Fagatele Bay Marine sanctuary the steep volcanic slopes contain some of the rarest Paleo-tropical rainforest. Large fruit bats or flying fox patrol the jungles and huge seabirds can be seen nesting on the sheer cliffs and ridges. Some 34 species of bird life had been identified. Sixteen of which are unique to Samoa.
A thriving coral community and numerous tropical fish live in the clear warm waters around the island where visibility is greater than 30 metres.
The Southern Humpback Whales winter here from August to November and porpoises visit regularly as do sperm whales. There are also various species of marine turtles.
Mt. Alava provides stunning views of the harbour which is the steep sided crater of an ancient volcano, the seaward side of which has collapsed to allow the sea to enter and form the mouth of the harbour.
Jean P. Haydon Museum of American Samoa, a national historic building that formerly housed the United States Navy Commisary during World War 2, was officially dedicated by famous anthropologist Margaret Mead, author of the controversial book Coming of Age in Samoa.
Afono Pass, which winds from one side of Tutuila to the other, offers seven scenic points from which to view the incredibly beautiful Pago Pago harbour.
You can visit Tutuilas newly established National Park over the mountains from Pago Pago, and on the Manua Islands of Tau and Ofu. Pay a visit and you will experience paradise. The tropical rainforest, world-class diving areas, world class hiking trails and Manuas historic sites, will make you feel like a native of Samoas culture and faa Samoan way of life.
WHERE TO STAY
Facilities include comfortable hotels, motels and lodges. There are no camping sites, but private accommodation arrangements can be made with village chiefs or landowners.
Taxis and rental cars are available. A fleet of aiga, local family buses, run unscheduled services. Driving is on the right hand side and most car rental companies require drivers to be at least 18 years old.
FOOD AND ENTERTAINMENT
Live bands and traditional dancing are offered in some of the hotels. Yiu can also attend a Samoan party and feast on delicious suckling pig, chicken and fish served on banana leaf plates, or visit the various villages and share a ceremonial drink of kava, and a Fiafia (traditional barbecue).
There are a number of recreational options including snorkelling, swimming, sailing, waterskiing, scuba diving, golf, tennis, rugby, cricket, nature walks and visiting historical archaeological sites.
Try deep-sea fishing for marlin, tuna and shark from a charter boat and watch a whole village harvest fish from the sea in the traditional style using long nets.
Visit the handicraft centre at the Old Age Office at the South end of Pago Pago park. They have fascinating carved wood objects and hand-blocked tapa-print artefacts. Handicrafts are also made in the various villages.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
FACTS AT A GLANCE
|CLIMATE||Tropical with temperatures hovering around 26 degrees C. The rainy season is from October to March.|
|CLOTHING||Bikinis and brief clothing are OK by the beach or pool but considered offensive in the villages. The locals wear a 'lava lava', a cloth wraparound.|
|ELECTRICITY||110 volts AC/50 cycles.|
|TIME ZONE||GMT minus 11 hours or AEST minus 21 hours.|
|VISAS & HEALTH||Visas not required for stays of less than 30 days if you have an onward ticket. No departure tax. No vaccination certificates required.|
|GETTING THERE||Hawaiian Air, Samoa Air and Polynesian Airlines. Samoa Air also provides inter-island services and flies to the Kingdom of Tonga and Western Samoa.|
Samoa Postcards and Picture Galleries