The islands of American Samoa have so much natural beauty that choosing just seven places to highlight was nearly impossible. I could write a whole book about all the places to visit on the main island of Tutuila (maybe I will). But for today, I’ve narrowed our list of favorites to my top seven, enough to keep you good and busy for a week. These locations are in no particular order, except for number one, it really is my favorite.
Fogama’a goes by many names: Hidden Beach, Secret Beach, Tropical Paradise… okay, I added that last one, but it should be included. There’s a short, easy/moderately difficult hike (I would rank it simply easy, except for one part of the trail that’s quite steep and can be slippery) that opens onto a hidden gem. Once you’ve made it through the banana plantation and down the cement steps, you’ll find yourself in a small bay. This place is perfect for exploring, building sand castles, sun bathing, snorkeling, or playing in the waves. Like many spots on Tutuila, coconuts grow wild and can be easily found, cracked open, and enjoyed, right there on the beach. The trail to the beach can be difficult to find, thus the name Hidden Beach. Asking someone to take you out is your best bet or I’d be happy to try and explain how to get there.
Aunu’u is the smaller inhabited island just off the Southeast tip of Tutuila. But don’t just visit Aunu’u, arrange a tour and get the whole experience. You will learn the history of the island, the Fa’a (traditional) Samoan way of cooking, (that is still used today), and, of course, take a hiking tour of the island. Then, you’ll finish with a feast of the Samoan Umu (BBQ) that you helped prepare. You can also arrange to camp right on the beach, for an overnight trip. When asking Nate for input on this list, Aunu’u was his #1.
Blunt’s Point/WWII Heritage Trail
One of the more accessible and maintained hikes on Tutuila, Blunt’s Point is just .6 miles roundtrip and has steps with railing for the steeper portions. At the top of Blunt’s Point are old WWII cannons that provide a history lesson, and fun for the more adventurous kids. There is also a maintained lawn for picnicking and incredible, nearly 180° views of the the ocean and Pago Pago Harbor.
If you’re up for more of an adventure, you can continue along the hike, for the WWII Heritage Trail. Along the way, there are more abandoned WWII installations. The installations are overgrown, being claimed once more by their island surroundings, adding to the magical feeling and maintaining the natural beauty. Warning: The trail isn’t as well maintained as the Blunt’s Point Trail and the steeper sections use ladders and ropes.
National Park of American Samoa
While not one single spot, the national park had to make the list of top places in American Samoa. As the only American National Park south of the equator, you can’t come all this way and not visit it. Part of the park is rain-forest with hiking trails and breathtaking views. While the rest is underwater, with protected coral reefs, home to hundreds of exotic fish and sea-life.
There are a few villages within the park, which offer opportunities for learning and friendship. In one village, Vatia, we were having trouble locating a trail-head and three local girls offered to show us the way. One of them hiked the whole trail with us. And Fagasa, another village, is one of our absolute favorite spots for snorkeling, with a vibrant reef and calm, bay waters. The National Park Service also offers homestay programs with local Samoan families, where you can experience authentic life on the islands.
This is possibly our kids’ favorite spot on the island. The beach isn’t very big and at high-tide it almost disappears. But there is a giant tree which provides shelter from the sun or rain. There are two rope swings attached to a large branch, where you can swing out over the sand and into the water as the tide comes in. The beach is mostly soft sand. At low-tide, there are tide pools for the kids to explore and unique rock formations, which offer a great visual of the geological history of the island.
Sliding Rock can be found just past the village of Taputimu, also called Leala Shoreline National Natural Landmark. This is a perfect place for pictures. We had our family portraits taken at dusk and they turned out beautifully! Hiking a short way down the coast, will lead you to some natural pools. The pools fill at high tide as the waves crash upon the rocks and leave the pools refreshed and filled during low tide. You have to time your outing right, as low-tide is the only time they’re accessible, otherwise, you’ll get washed out by the crashing waves. But during that low-tide sweet spot, the water is clear and warm, and the view is unbeatable.
A series of falls that come cascading down the mountainside from the tropical rains, providing beauty and adventure. There is a short hike to the first falls, which is where most people stop. The view here is incredible and depending on the day, the falls can vary from gentle and misty, to wild and violent. Beyond the first falls is a “trail” up the side of the mountain. This leads to more falls, caves hidden by the falls, and a natural water-slide.
There you have it- My top places in American Samoa. There are a few more places that we’ve just recently heard about, that I’m looking forward to trying out. Also, hopefully soon, we’ll be making our way to the Manua islands, the other islands that make up American Samoa, located East of Tutuila. This might change my list of favorites, in which case I’ll edit, or maybe just add to it. Haha
Top Places in American Samoa Honorable Mentions
I’d be remiss if I didn’t add a couple honorable mentions, places that you can get to easily and stay for just a little while if you’re running short on time. Aoloau Viewpoint: There are some ruins most of the way up the mountain to Aoloau. These present some of the best views across the island and out to sea. The Marketplace: The Marketplace is open Monday-Saturday. The First Friday of every month hosting different dance groups from around the island for some Fa’a Samoan entertainment. There is usually some kind of entertainment every Friday night, but you’ll be guaranteed a good show on the first Friday.
FYI: Please be aware that most of American Samoa is family land, so make sure to ask for permission each time before using a beach or hiking trail. It’s as simple as knocking on the nearest door and asking if you can use the beach/trail. Also, they’re almost all off-limits on Sundays and you will be turned away. After more than two years of asking, we have yet to be turned away.