American Samoa lies to the east of the independent island nation of Samoa and forms part of the Samoan Islands chain in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies in the centre of a triangle between Hawaii, Tahiti and New Zealand.
consists of seven islands, administered by the USA, with Tutuila Island being the largest and most populated.
This mountainous island of volcanic origins, rises steeply from the sea and is covered in dense tropical rain forest and lush vegetation which extends to the water's edge all along the jagged coastline.
The capital is Pago Pago, a traditional working fishing town with a picturesque if somewhat polluted natural harbour surrounded by sheer mountains. Tuna canning is the main industry here and the town itself was Americanised during the Second World War when the Americans outnumbered the locals (and yes there is a McDonald's here!).
The other villages located along the coastline are undeveloped and retain their charm.
There is little in the way of tourist infrastructure here and the island is best suited to the independent traveller.
When to go
Being only 14º below the equator, the weather on American Samoa is typically tropical and enjoys sunshine all year round. The hottest and most humid months are December through to April and this is also the rainy season with a high risk of tropical storms and hurricanes. The "winter" months from May to November are drier with more comfortable temperatures (28ºc during the day and 23ºc at night) and the islands enjoy cooling trade winds from the south east during this part of the year.
How to get there
The closest international airport is Faleolo Airport on the Western Samoan island of Upolu which has direct flights from Los Angeles, Auckland, Sydney and Honolulu.
There are six daily flights from here to Pago Pago Airport on Tutuila Island which take about three quarters of an hour.
Where to stay
There are a number of inexpensive hotels and motels in Pago Pago and throughout the island, with new hotels being developed near the airport.
There are also a few remote hotels which offer peace and tranquility, fantastic scenery and the chance to explore the private coves and beaches along the rugged coastline.
Beach bungalows are also available to rent, most of which are located in idyllic settings.
The island of Ofu also has a few guesthouses.
What to see
Most of the north coast of Tutuila is completely inaccessible as a steep east west mountainous spine runs the length of the island. There are only three bays accessed by road in the north. One of these, Vatia Bay is found within the National Park. The best views over Pago Pago are from this road.
The Matafao Peak is the highest point on American Samoa and has the beautiful Nuuili waterfall at its base - perfect for cooling down.
The south coastline is scenic with small beach resorts, where you get great views of the wild coastline.
The historical whaling town of Leone on the south west has several sites of archaelogical interest from a Samoan history that spans 2,000 years.
There is a national marine sanctuary at
Bay and the bays on the south coast offer excellent snorkelling. For surfers there are some excellent waves off the islands, but the surf can be dangerous .
There is also snorkelling off the fantastic white sandy beaches of Ofu Island.
A couple of miles south east of Tutuila is
Aunu'u Island which is popular with walkers and hikers. A daytrip by boat takes you there where you can visit the extinct crater with its unusual Red Lake and quicksand.
A short flight takes you to the three Manuua Islands, east of Tutuila which have some excellent white sandy beaches and superb scenery with lots of interesting archaeological sites.
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Dorinda Talbot, Michelle Bennet
The Lonely Planet Guide
Price: £7.91 (34% off list price)
A travel guide for the Samoan Islands, this text includes practical information on how to explore the volcanic peaks, discover the waterfalls, beaches and other geographic features of the area. There is a section on Samoan language, and extensive coverage of culture, politics, history and the arts.
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