Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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The National Park of American Samoa is one of the most unique national parks in the U.S. National Park Service. This remote paradise is located in the South Pacific on 3 different islands. The National Park of American Samoa is built on the Samoan culture, which has been preserved and respected for over 3,000 years.
This national park has a world of adventure, both underwater and on land, just waiting to be explored. Along with adventure, the National Park of American Samoa has a rich cultural and natural history that tells an incredible story of this sacred land.
Each year, an average of fewer than 40,000 people come to explore the beauty of the National Park of American Samoa, but once others learn about this beautiful place, many more will want to make the journey to discover the natural wonder and awe that waits for them.
How To Get to the National Park of American Samoa
Where Is the National Park of American Samoa?
The National Park of American Samoa is located in the South Pacific. The park is composed of 3 different islands named Tutuila, Ofu, and Taʻū. This national park lies at the halfway point between New Zealand and Hawaii.
Nearest Airports to the National Park of American Samoa
Pago Pago International Airport (PPG) is the only option for flying into the National Park of American Samoa area. This airport is about 34 minutes from the park. This airport exclusively services Hawaiian Airlines which provides 2 flights round-trip from Honolulu (HNL) each week. Flying is the only way to get to the island where the National Park of American Samoa is located. From this airport, you are a short drive from the entrance to the park.
Driving to the National Park of American Samoa
From the airport, visitors will use a rental car or shuttle service to take them to the entrance of the National Park of American Samoa. The park is accessed from Route 001. Most travelers choose forms of public transportation for arriving at the park or in the nearby gateway towns.
Taking the Bus to the National Park of American Samoa
Taking the bus to your national park destination is always a great idea, as it allows you to sit back and enjoy the ride without the stress of traffic and navigating new roads. There are 2 bus options that take visitors to the National Park of American Samoa. These buses can be found in the Pago Pago Village and run daily, excluding Sundays.Hot Tip:
The wait to board the bus is typically an hour long, so if you are in a rush, you may want to look into a different option for arriving at the park.
Getting Around the National Park of American Samoa
There are several ways to get around the National Park of American Samoa. One of the ways to get around is by private vehicle, but most people prefer to use the local aiga buses, which frequently take guests from one place to another throughout the park and surrounding villages. the National Park Service offers interactive and printable maps to help you in planning your park adventures.
What To See and Do at the National Park of American Samoa
The National Park of American Samoa is a true piece of paradise. With incredible weather, beautiful beaches, and plenty to explore on land and underwater, this national park has no shortage of things to do.
There are more than 35 species of birds that live in the National Park of America Samoa, making this an incredible place for bird-watchers. Some of the birds that can be seen here include shorebirds, rainforest birds, and seabirds. The Samoan starling, cardinals, and wattle honeyeaters are just some of the birds that tourists spot regularly. Glimpsing the birds that make their home in this national park creates memories to last a lifetime.
Hiking and Beach Walking
There is a variety of hiking opportunities to enjoy at the National Park of American Samoa. Visitors can choose from hikes through the rainforest, along the beach, and up steep hills. There are hiking options for all ages and abilities. Some of the popular hikes include the Mount ‘Alava Trail, the Pola Island Trail, Tuafanua Trail, and the Tumu Mountain Trail.
The beaches are incredible places to explore in this national park. Visitors enjoy spending lots of time on Ofu Beach, Two Dollar Beach, and Palagi Beach. Hiking and walking the beaches of this national park is an excellent way to see the wildlife that makes its home in the park and learn about the history and culture of the area.
Water surrounds the National Park of American Samoa, so naturally, fishing is a popular activity. The waters surrounding the park have been used for ages by the Samoans, so some regulations must be followed out of respect for the Samoan people.
Before casting a line, visitors must obtain permission to fish from the village. Fishing is permitted each day of the week, with the exception of Sundays. Fishing is a fantastic way to get a better understanding of the way the waters surrounding the park have been used for thousands of years.
Snorkeling and Diving
Snorkeling and diving are popular activities at the National Park of American Samoa. This is a superb way to see the vibrant world under the sea. There are over 950 species of fish that can be seen while snorkeling and over 250 kinds of coral.
The best area to snorkel and dive is off an island called Ofu. This area has a mesmerizing coral reef that stretches over 350 acres. The park does not have any options for renting snorkeling gear, so you will need to gather those in advance.
Whale watching is an exciting activity at the National Park of American Samoa. From August to November, humpback whales can be spotted on their migration path back from the Arctic. Other marine animals that have been seen in this park include porpoises, sperm whales, and sea turtles.
The best area in the park for whale watching is on Fagatele Bay, which is in the southwestern area of Tutuila. Catching a glimpse of the marine mammals that make their home in the waters of the National Park of American Samoa is an experience that will create memories to last a lifetime.
The best way to start off your adventures at the National Park of American Samoa is to take time to explore the park’s visitor center. The park visitor center is located in Pago Pago, opposite the Pago Way Service Station.
This visitor center has park rangers stationed there each day to answer any questions you may have and help you to plan your excursions at the National Park of American Samoa. Many exhibits and displays offer information about the park’s culture and history. Visitors are also able to make purchases in the bookstore for souvenirs or necessities during their visit.
Best Times To Visit the National Park of American Samoa
A trip to the National Park of American Samoa is lovely no matter which time of year you are able to visit. However, there are better times to visit for different activities. Let’s explore some of the best times to visit the National Park of American Samoa.
Best Time To Visit the National Park of American Samoa for Ideal Weather
The weather is always enjoyable at the National Park of American Samoa, but if you want to visit when the weather is at its best, plan to visit in August. The temperature during the day reaches up to the mid-80s, and the lows are in the upper 70s, making it a perfect time for adventures in the water and on land. There are also fewer guests in the park at this time of the year, making it a great time for a less crowded visit.
Best Time To Visit the National Park of American Samoa To Avoid the Crowds
Visiting a national park without crowds is a dream come true for tourists. If you are hoping to visit the National Park of American Samoa without crowds, plan to come in March. March is when the fewest visitors come to this park, making it the perfect time to explore at your own pace.
Best Time To Visit the National Park of American Samoa for Whale Watching
If you are hoping to spend time whale watching at the National Park of American Samoa, the best month to plan a visit is in October. The peak season for whale watching and spotting humpback whales in the waters of the National Park of American Samoa is from September to October, but the best time to experience this activity is in October. October has fewer visitors, making viewing these magnificent marine mammals a wonderful opportunity.
Cheapest Time To Visit the National Park of American Samoa
Traveling and saving money at the same time is a dream come true. Suppose you are hoping to go easy on your budget while traveling. In that case, you should plan to visit the National Park of American Samoa in March when the park has a drastic decrease in visitors Lodging and flights are much more affordable during this time. A trip to the National Park of American Samoa in March is a sure way to save money and have an incredible experience.
Annual Events at the National Park of American Samoa
There are many activities that take place in or near the National Park of American Samoa on a regular basis, but there are also several events that take place on an annual basis. The locals and tourists alike look forward to these events each year. There’s an event for everyone throughout the year, from fishing contests to art festivals, from family-friendly races to traditional Samoan ceremonies.
Apia Arts and Crafts Festival
Each year in March, in the capital city of Samoa, the Apia Arts and Crafts Festival takes place. This event is one of the favorite festivals of tourists and locals. The Apia Arts and Crafts Festival showcases art by local artists from one of the 9 different Samoan islands. Attending and participating in this festival is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the Samoan culture and take home some amazing one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
Independence Day is an exciting time at the National Park of American Samoa. May 31 is when Samoa celebrates its independence from New Zealand. The entire country celebrates with traditional dances, artwork, lively music, and delicious foods. This is a wonderful time to visit the National Park of America Samoa and get a glimpse of the sacred traditions of the Samoan culture.
The American Samoa National Olympic Committee hosts Olympic Day each year in June on Utelei Beach. This event offers an extensive list of activities for all ages. Some of the activities included in this event include a 5K/10K Walk and Run, Zumba and exercise workouts, sailing, and water sports.
This is a time when visitors can let loose and do some of the activities that they enjoy. If Olympic Day sounds like it is something you’d like to participate in, try planning your vacation in late June to ensure you are there at the right time.
National Park Week
Every year in April, each U.S. national park celebrates National Park Week. All park fees are waived during this week, and there are additional activities, events, and workshops that take place to celebrate the National Park Service’s contributions and efforts to protect and preserve the lands of America.
A visit to the National Park of American Samoa during National Park Week is the ultimate experience for visitors of every age. Planning a trip during this weeklong event guarantees countless opportunities for fun and learning.
Where To Stay in the National Park of American Samoa
Planning where to stay during a vacation is always one of the major decisions to be made. The National Park of American Samoa doesn’t have any traditional lodging options or campgrounds on its premises, but there are several options for places to stay near the park.
Inside the Park
There are no options for lodging or camping within the National Park of American Samoa since this land is not owned by the U.S. government. At one point, there was a program called Homestay, where visitors could stay in the home of a local inside the park boundaries. At this time, the Homestay program is not an option, but it may open up again in the future. If you want to stay near the park, your best option is to book accommodations in one of the nearby towns.
Towns Near the National Park of American Samoa
There are 2 towns near the National Park of American Samoa that make great places for a base camp during a trip to the park. Both of these towns are located on Tutuila Island.
Pago Pago is just an 8-minute drive from the National Park of American Samoa. This city is the capital city of American Samoa and has many places for lodging, dining, and recreation. This town has many options for lodging. Popular places to set up a home away from home include hotels and locally-owned inns, private vacation rentals, and motels.
Food enthusiasts enjoy the variety of restaurants in Pago Pago. There are numerous options for dining in this town, including freshly-caught seafood restaurants, family-owned cafés, and authentic Samoan diners. Whether you are seeking comfort food from home or a new culinary experience, Pago Pago has something perfect for every palate.
Pago Pago is in an excellent, convenient location for exploring the National Park of American Samoa, but it also is in a wonderful location for other types of recreation. This town has miles and miles of hiking trails, several beaches, a marine sanctuary, and an ocean center, making boredom impossible.
Tafuna is a village on the east coast of Tutuila Island, 35 minutes from the National Park of American Samoa. Tafuna makes a great place to set up a home base during your national park adventure because it has many outstanding options for places to stay, eat, and explore.
The village has a variety of lodging options within its boundaries. From luxury hotels to all-inclusive resorts, from quaint inns to budget-friendly motels, Tafuna has something for every traveler. Most visitors choose to stay at a chain hotel or resort for a superior experience.
The dining scene is a treat in Tafuna. There are several locally-owned restaurants, cafes, and diners, as well as a few chain restaurants to choose from. No matter what you find yourself craving, there’s a perfect hunger solution in Tafuna.
Tafuna is an excellent place for adventure and recreation. There are museums and beach parks nearby. Visitors enjoy booking tours of the mountains, seas, and beaches of the area. Other activities include kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking. With so many restaurants, lodging options, and opportunities for fun, Tafuna makes a great choice for setting up a home base while visiting the National Park of American Samoa.
Where To Eat in the National Park of American Samoa
There aren’t any restaurants in the National Park of American Samoa, but there are numerous options just a few miles from the park. No matter what you crave, you can find something to hit the spot just a few minutes down the road. Let’s take a look at some of the popular restaurants near the National Park of American Samoa.
DDW Beach Café
DDW Beach Café is located approximately 2.5 miles from the National Park of American Samoa. This restaurant serves breakfast and lunch right on the island.
The menu at DDW Beach Café features a wide variety of American favorites and Samoan specialties. Exciting menu options include freshly caught swordfish and salmon, biscuits and gravy, sweet chili chicken wings, sashimi, and oxtail soup. Whether you crave comfort foods from home or want to try a local specialty, you won’t regret dining at DDW Beach Café. Your tastebuds will be in paradise.
The Equator Restaurant
The Equator Restaurant is located 2.5 miles from the National Park of American Samoa in the Tradewinds Hotel. The Equator Restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
This restaurant offers a lovely mixture of American and Samoan cuisine made with fresh, local produce and seafood. Customers rave about the fish and chips, the Equator salad, and the club sandwich. Reasonable prices, excellent customer service, amazing menu items, and the proximity to the National Park of American Samoa make The Equator Restaurant a top choice for dining during your vacation.
Paradise Pizza and Restaurant
Paradise Pizza and Restaurant is a great place to refuel during your trip to the National Park of American Samoa. This restaurant is only 5 minutes from the park and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner 6 days a week.
Don’t be fooled by the name of this restaurant. Paradise Pizza and Restaurant serves so much more than pizza. Paradise Pizza has everything from pancakes and omelets for breakfast to steaks, pasta dishes, and gourmet pizzas for lunch and dinner. Popular menu items include the New York Steak, the seafood pasta, and the Paradise deluxe pizza.
Should hunger strike while you are exploring the National Park of American Samoa, you’ll want to stop by Paradise Pizza and Restaurant for an incredible meal you won’t forget.
Tisa’s Barefoot Bar
Tisa’s Barefoot Bar is 15 minutes from the National Park of American Samoa. This is a wonderful dining option that offers a true paradise experience while enjoying Samoan-style specialties on a private beach. Tisa’s Barefoot Bar has an impressive menu of organic dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each dish is lovingly prepared by a famous chef who uses fresh produce from the restaurant’s garden.
Dining at Tisa’s Barefoot Bar is a fantastic option for dining and experiencing the Samoan culture. The restaurant features themed nights and special events regularly, which could add some pizazz to your vacation at the National Park of American Samoa.
National Park of American Samoa Facts
1. A New National Park
The National Park of American Samoa was established as America’s 50th national park on October 31, 1988. This national park is unique in that the National Park Service actually leases the land from the individual villages that own the land.
2. One of a Kind
The National Park of American Samoa is the only U.S. national park south of the equator. This national park is a tropical paradise with sights and experiences that are one of a kind.
3. What’s in a Name?
The word “Samoa” means sacred earth. The National Park Service goes above and beyond to protect the beliefs, customs, and traditions of the Samoan culture, which has been thriving for 3,000 years.
4. An Abundance of Animals
The National Park of American Samoa is home to a wide variety of animals. Over 950 types of fish, 180 bird species, 8 kinds of mammals, and over 250 coral species are present in the park. Some of the animals commonly spotted in the park and its waters include humpback whales, sea turtles, dolphins, tropical birds, and bats.
5. Highs and Lows
The highest point of elevation in the National Park of American Samoa is at Olamatimu. This point in the park measures 3,056 feet high. The lowest point in the park is the Pacific Ocean, which is at 0 feet in elevation.
6. Rainforest Communities
The National Park of American Samoa protects 5 separate rainforest types. These different types include coast, montane, lowland, and cloud rainforests. There is no other rainforest in the U.S. like the ones found at the National Park of American Samoa.
7. Location Location
The National Park of American Samoa is located 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii and 1,800 miles northwest of New Zealand. This is the most remote national park in all of the U.S. National Park Service.
8. Endangered Animals
There is a variety of animals that make their home within the boundaries of the National Park of American Samoa. Some of these endangered species include the blue whale, sperm whale, hawksbill turtle, leatherback turtle, and the Central South Pacific green turtle.
There are also several animals that are threatened, including the olive ridley turtle, giant manta ray, and the Indo-West Pacific scalloped hammerhead shark. The National Park Service goes above and beyond to protect these animals and offer them a safe place to call home.
9. Native Mammals
There are 3 bat species that are native to the National Park of American Samoa. 2 of these species are fruit bats, and the other is an insect-eating bat. These bats can be seen roosting in the trees in different areas of the park.
10. Fa’asamoa–The Samoan Way
Visitors to the National Park of American Samoa are asked to respect the traditions and culture of the villagers who call this land home. There are many different ways to uphold the customs of this sacred land. Some ways to do this include asking permission to take photographs and use the beach. Visitors are expected to dress modestly and understand that many things are not permitted on Sundays, which is the day of rest for the Samoans.
Visiting the National Park of American Samoa is a completely different experience than what you expect from other national parks. This park is filled with culture, tradition, history, and beauty that can’t be found elsewhere. Whether you visit to learn about a historical culture or to discover rainforest ecosystems, there’s something for everyone to enjoy here. Book your trip to the National Park of American Samoa and discover the beauty and wonder that awaits you.
Featured Image Credit: NPS via Wikimedia Commons
Frequently Asked Questions
The National Park of American Samoa is a no-entry-fee park.
It is recommended to stay a minimum of 3 days and a maximum of 10 days at the National Park of American Samoa. Most people who stay less than a week wish they would have stayed longer. There is so much to explore in this national park; the longer the stay, the better the experience.
The weather doesn’t have any major changes at the National Park of American Samoa. Throughout the year, it is mainly warm, humid, and rainy. The dry season is from June to September and is when the park is a bit cooler and drier. October through May is the summer season, which usually has more rain.
Public Wi-Fi is available throughout the park. Be sure to take into consideration that in some areas of the park, the Wi-Fi may be unreliable.
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