National Park of American Samoa: The Complete Guide for 2020

Irma V

Oslo, Norway

With acres upon acres of verdant tropical rainforests, pristine beaches, and teeming coral reefs, National Park of American Samoa is a true hidden gem. Almost one-third of the park’s surface is underwater and home to an astounding 250 coral and 930 fish species, making it one of the country’s marine biodiversity hotspots. The only downside? This island isn’t easy to reach. Due to its remote location in the South Pacific (it’s the only national park south of the Equator!), it counts among the country’s least-visited national parks with only a little over 5,000 people ticking it off their bucket list every year. 

Where is the National Park of American Samoa

National Park of American Samoa,
National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa.

As its name says, the National Park of American Samoa (or American Samoa National Park) is located on the US territory of American Samoa, halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. The park is spread across three islands: Tutuila, Ofu, and Ta’ū

National Park of American Samoa Facts 

National Park of American Samoa,
National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa.
  • National Park of American Samoa was first opened in 1993 when, after years of negotiations, Samoan chiefs granted the National Park Service permission to lease the land from local villages for 50 years. 
  • Besides protecting its flora and fauna, the park is committed to preserving the traditions of the Samoan culture, fa’asamoa
  • While one-third of the plants in the National Park of American Samoa are endemic species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world, its only native mammals are bats, including the giant fruit bat with a wingspan of over 3 feet.
  • American Samoa is the last place to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

Best Time to Visit the National Park of American Samoa 

American Samoa,
National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa.

Located a mere 14 degrees south of the equator, American Samoa boasts a tropical climate with warm temperatures, frequent rain showers, and high humidity all year round. The best time to visit is between June and August when the weather gets slightly cooler and drier. The rainy season runs from October through May when you are likely to experience tropical storms. They can arise at a moment’s notice, so be sure to check the weather forecast before putting on your hiking boots.

National Park of American Samoa Hours 

American Samoa,
National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa.

The National Park of American Samoa is open 24 hours a day, year-round. The visitor’s center is open on weekdays from 8:00am to 4:30pm and closed on public holidays. Some areas of the park are occasionally closed due to trail maintenance and safety measures. For current status and updates, check out the park’s alerts on closures.

Note: Although the National Park of American Samoa remains open, all international flights to American Samoa are currently suspended due to COVID-19. 

National Park of American Samoa Entrance Fee 

Pago Pago, Pago Pago
National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa.

The entrance to the National Park of American Samoa is free. 

Flights to American Samoa National Park

American Samoa,
National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa.

There is only one way to get to American Samoa from the mainland United States: a five-hour Hawaiin Airlines flight from Honolulu. If you’re visiting from Australia, New Zealand, or Fiji, you’ll land at the International Airport at Upolu in neighboring Western Samoa. From there, hop on a half-hour flight to Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa. Samoa Airways will get you to the rest of the park, but keep in mind that there are only four weekly flights to Ta’ū and one to Ofu. If you are feeling adventurous, you can catch the occasional passenger ferry to make the crossing.

National Park of American Samoa Tours

American Samoa,
Pago Pago, American Samoa.

Take a sensational (medium to difficult) hike with South Pacific Watersports and Fitness. Tours can be booked at the visitor’s center in Pago Pago. For less strenuous excursions, TourAmericanSamoa will have you covered with their historical tours and visits to Samoan rainforest villages. Not what you’re looking for? They’ll be happy to put together a customized tour just for you. 

National Park of American Samoa Lodging

American Samoa,
American Samoa.

American Samoa Hotels

There is no shortage of accommodation ranging from traditional fales (beach huts) to inns, hotels, and resorts close to the National Park of American Samoa. Here are our favorites: 

  1. Maliu Mali Beach Resort
  2. Sadie’s by the Sea
  3. Sadie Thompson Inn
  4. Moana O Sina
  5. Tradewinds Hotel
  6. Le Falepule
  7. Pago Airport Inn
  8. Tisa’s Eco Fales 
  9. Amouli Beach Fales 
  10. Vaoto Lodge

American Samoa Airbnb

Several modest Airbnb lodgings are dotted around the harbor of Pago Pago, within a short drive from the park. The islands of Ta’ū and Ofu have no Airbnb rentals. 

American Samoa Camping

You’ll have to leave your camping gear at home; camping is prohibited on the entire territory of the National Park of American Samoa.

Hiking in the National Park of American Samoa

Ofu Beach, Manu'a
National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa.

Although a handful of easy trails wind through the National Park of American Samoa, the steep terrain of unstable volcanic soils combined with frequent heavy rainfalls can turn your hiking trip into a perilous adventure. Be warned that the park lacks any advanced search facilities (the nearest Coast Guard is in Hawaii). Take extreme caution as there may be no one to rescue you. 

Easy, perfect for families:

  1. Lower Sauma Ridge Trail (0.4 mile out-and-back)
  2. Pola Island Trail (0.6 mile out-and-back)

Moderate, fairly strenuous:

  1. Mount ‘Alava Trail (6.1 miles out-and-back)
  2. Si’U Point Trail (5.4 miles out-and-back)

Difficult, experience recommended:

  1. Tuafanua Trail (1.1 mile out-and-back)
  2. Mount Alava Trail (5.3 miles out-and-back)
  3. Tumu Mountain Trail (5.4 miles out-and-back)

Best Things to Do in American Samoa National Park

Start at the visitor’s center in Pago Pago

National Park Of American Samoa Visitors Center, American Samoa. Credit: NPS

Start at the visitor’s center in Pago Pago. Get an insight into the area’s rich history and culture at the visitor’s center of the National Park of American Samoa. The center is located in Pago Pago, a 30-minute drive from the park. 

Snorkel coral reefs on Ofu island

American Samoa,
Of Island, National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa.

The small volcanic island of Ofu is one of the world’s most spectacular snorkeling locations with crystal-clear waters and enchanting reefs. The only catch is, there is nowhere to rent equipment on the island, so make sure to bring your own. 

Visit Forbidden Bay on Tutuila Island

Tutuila,
Tutuila, National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa.

With its waters teeming with bright, soft corals and technicolored fish, Forbidden Bay is among the most beautiful bays in the South Pacific. It is a short walk from the pretty village of Fagasā, right at the edge of the National Park. 

Go scuba diving at Fagatele Bay

Fagatele Bay, Fagatele Bay
Fagatele Bay, National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa.

There are few places on the planet better suited for exploring the vibrant underwater world than the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. The star attraction is the 20-feet tall Porites coral dubbed Big Momma. 

Explore the National Park’s rainforest birds

American Samoa,
National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa.

Look out for colorful, tropical doves and imperial pigeons, lupe, featured in countless Samoan proverbs and expressions. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of the bristle-thighed curlew, a rare migratory bird from Alaska. 

Relax on Ofu beaches

Ofu Beach, Manu'a
Ofu Beach, National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa.

The soft pink stretches of sand surrounded by jagged volcanic peaks of the Ofu island count among the world’s most stunning and secluded beaches. The calm turquoise water is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. 

Live like a local in Samoan villages

American Samoa,
Vetia Village, American Samoa.

Join the park’s homestay program to spend a few days living with locals in a rainforest village. And the best part is, you’ll be helping your Samoan hosts with everything from fishing to gathering fruit in the rainforest and collecting giant clams on the reef. 

More Things to in American Samoa

Visit historic WWII sites on Tutuila Island

Blunts Point Battery, Utulei
Blunts Point Battery, American Samoa.

Tutuila Island is the perfect place for history buffs. Blunt’s Point gun batteries and Breaker’s Point naval guns were set up here to protect Pago Pago after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese, however, only attacked once. Ironically, the missile launched from a submarine landed on the island’s only Japanese shop.

Visit Jean P. Haydon Museum in Pago Pago

Jean P. Haydon Museum, American Samoa. Credit: Samoa News

The Jean P. Haydon Museum, named after the wife of the governor who welcomed the Apollo astronauts in 1970, displays an eclectic mix of Samoan artifacts and moon rocks, along with the American Samoa flag that was taken to the moon on Apollo 11. 

Go whale watching near Namua

Namua, Namua
Namua Island, American Samoa.

Between August and November, keep an eye out for southern humpback whales on their migratory voyage from the Antarctic. You can spot whales and their calves from almost any spot on the island that overlooks the ocean. 

Watch a Fiafia dance show

Taumeasina Island Resort, Apia
Fia Fia, American Samoa.

No visit to American Samoa is complete without experiencing fiafia, a performance of Polynesian slap and fire knife dances. Fiafia nights are traditionally accompanied by feasts of local delicacies of breadfruit, taro leaves in coconut cream, raw fish, and seafood cooked on hot volcanic rocks.

Watch the sun set and spend a night star gazing

American Samoa,
Sunset, American Samoa.

Clear air and dark night skies make for a spectacular stargazing experience. The south coast of Tutuila’s island offers breathtaking views of the Southern Cross constellation and plenty of shooting stars.

Visit the sacred site of Saua on Ta’ū island

Tau,
Tau Island, American Samoa.

The Saua village on Ta’ū Island is home to the earliest Polynesian settlements. Legend has it that Saua was the spot where the god Tagaloa created humans before sending them out to Polynesia.

Spend a day in Pago Pago

Pago Pago, Pago Pago
Pago Pago, American Samoa.

Tucked away in the crater of an extinct volcano, Pago Pago holds the unlikely record of being a harbor with the highest annual rainfall in the world. While in Pago Pago, take a ride on a colorful aiga bus with blasting music. There are no schedules and no stops—simply knock on the window when you want to get out. 

Try Samoan panikeke at Fagatogo Market

Fagatogo Market, Fagatogo
Fagatogo Market, American Samoa.

Don’t leave without trying Samoan panikeke, fried donuts with tropical banana flavor. We recommend sampling the favorite Samoan street food at Pago Pago’s Fagatogo market while you people watch and hang out with the locals.