American Samoa – Tutuila

American Samoa was our bonus Pacific island as it wasn’t on our original itinerary. But once we saw one of our favorite bloggers (X Days in Y) write about how easy it was to hop from Samoa to American Samoa, our interest was piqued. The 30 minute flight across the international date line from Apia to Pago Pago was $150 round trip so there really wasn’t an excuse not to include a visit to Tutuila. We missed our original flight due to Cyclone Donna but the helpful Polynesian Airlines staff changed our flight for a small fee. Little did we realize at the time but the 2 week delay worked out in our favor weather wise which was fortunate since we were really keen on hiking a few trails at the National Park of American Samoa and some of the trails are off limits during inclement weather. Upon arrival to Tutuila, we made our base of operations Evalani’s motel in Pago Pago – a fantastic budget option with super friendly staff, free WiFi and breakfast. After a visit to the excellent National Park visitor center, the staff helped shape our 4 day itinerary using public transportation (since it was Graduation weekend and the rental car agencies had no cars for hire). Our agenda included: Blunt’s Point and the WWII Heritage Trail, Mount Alava Adventure Trail (an ass kicking hike starting from Vatia up to summit of Alava Mountain before descending down to Fagasa Pass and terminating in Pago Pago), 2 Dollar Beach, and Tisa’s Beach Bar. American Samoa exceeded our expectations as we really dug the vibe of this laid back American territory. Samoans are some of the friendliest and most welcoming people on the planet, and it doesn’t hurt that the natural scenery here is absolutely stunning. Without a doubt, we wouldn’t hesitate for a return visit here, although next time we’ll be sure to include Ofu!

Colorful walll mural at Pago Pago International Airport "Talofa and Welcome to American Samoa" - baggage claim area of Pago Pago airport Taking public transportation around Tutuila is easy and cheap - we rode from the airport into Pago Pago for USD $1 Pretty coastal scenery on our drive from the airport into Pago Pago Flowerpot rocks - an iconic image seen on every American Samoa license plate! Sadie Thompson Inn - read "Rain" by W. Somerset Maugham to appreciate this building Visit the National Park visitor center to help plan your American Samoa itinerary - these guys were an excellent resource! Mount Alava Adventure Trail - the most challenging hike in American Samoa Fishing boats in Pago Pago Harbor Flowerpot rock on an American Samoa license plate Dozens of churches found on the island of Tutuila - Samoans are serious about church and family so don't make any plans for Sunday! US Post Office in Pago Pago Colorful wall mural at the Jean P. Haydon Museum Massive fishing nets at the harbor in Pago Pago Wyland Mural by marine artist Wyland who has painted over 100 "whaling walls" around the world Carved wooden sign at the "Office of Samoan Affairs" Samoan youths rehearsing their "Fiafia" dance moves Outrigger canoe; Pago Pago harbor Gorgeous turquoise water in Pago Pago harbor Robby rides a canon at Blunt's Point, a WWII gun battery that defended the Pago harbor entrance Blunt's Point was invaded by dozens of frogs! Another view of Blunt's Point - a gun station erected to protect Pago Pago's harbor against Japanese invasion during WWII An obese frog on the WWII Heritage Trail Fighting positions hidden by the jungle; WWII Heritage Trail hike View as we hike out of the jungle and descend into Pago Pago at the end of the WWII Heritage Trail hike Colorful murals in the parking lot of the US National Park service; Pago Pago Fagatogo bus station - go here to catch a cheap bus anywhere on Tutuila island Meeting houses - a common sight in American Samoa Pago's picturesque harbor A bright and inviting church Ronald Reagan marine railway; Pago Pago Harbor Starkist tuna factory Samoa Tuna processing plant - tuna is big business in American Samoa! Tuna cannery in Pago Pago View on our early morning bus ride to Vatia Becky strikes a pose at the end of the Pola Island trail Panoramic view of the beach leading to Pola Island Pola Island coastline view Two arches visible on Pola Island Throne of Grace church in Vatia Walking through Vatia village Purple flowers; Vatia Our local transport to Vatia - a bargain $2 bus ride Looking back on Vatia before we start our hike up the Mount Alava Adventure Trail As we hiked up out of Vatia, we passed this Tsunami hazard zone sign. Locals are urged to consolidate on the high ground in the event of a tsunami View of Vatia as we hike along the lower Sauma Ridge trail The hike up to Mount Alava is steep and slow going but we are rewarded with glimpses of the coastline at random intervals Dozens of mushrooms on the adventure trail hike to Mt Alava A lizard sunning itself; Mt Alava adventure trail Juvenile coconut crab; Mt Alava adventure trail Robby in pain after messing with the wrong coconut crab! After a grueling 90 minute hike, we are finally rewarded with this awesome view of Vatia and Pola Island Becky climbing one of 56 ladders leading up to Mount Alava - this hike is no joke and we were both drenched in sweat! Wear sturdy shoes as you hike on the Mt Alava adventure trail - the path is slippery! Robby smiles on the adventure trail hike to Mt Alava We are still about 1 km or 2 mountain peaks away from the summit of Mt Alava but the views of Pago Pago harbor are already mesmerizing! Cicada taking a break from its noise making The tough hike is worth is as we near the summit of Mt Alava with views like this! Looking back toward Pola Island Yay! We made it to the top of Mt Alava and celebrated with a selfie Panoramic view of Rainmaker Mountain, Pago Pago Harbor and the northwest coastline - as seen from the summit of Mt Alava Rainmaker Mountain lives up to its name - even though we are visiting in May (dry season), rain pelts us daily in Pago Pago! Pretty red flowers on our hike down to Fagasa Pass Evalani's motel (Evie's Moto O Fiafiaga) - the perfect place to stay in Pago Pago Public buses are converted pick up trucks - we loved riding them at an affordable $1 per ride! Another of Tutuila's many churches Befriending a dog at 2 Dollar Beach Panoramic view of 2 Dollar Beach Becky enjoying the snorkeling at 2 Dollar Beach Robby stretching his legs at 2 Dollar Beach Hermit crab; 2 Dollar Beach Cracking coconut shells for a snack; 2 Dollar Beach Picture perfect 2 Dollar Beach - although the entrance fee is now $5! Dreadlocked dog who begged to munch on our coconut pieces; 2 Dollar Beach WWII bunker; 2 Dollar Beach Empty gas bottles hanging at every village in Tutuila - we learned that the cannisters are struck whenever the village elders want to hold a meeting Tisa's barefoot bar - a must visit while on Tutuila! Our tattooed bartender; Tisa's Barefoot Bar Thumbs up for our beer and pina colada; Tisa's Barefoot Bar Beach view from Tisa's Barefoot Bar - sleeping in the beach fales is an option for those so inclined! Our Sunday afternoon ridealong - checking out Pago's harbor Painted concrete guardrail Shipwreck near the village of Auasi Our awesome tour guide Layanga spent his Sunday afternoon giving us a free tour of Tutuila! Rugged coastline on Tutuila's southeast coast Brightly painted church Gorgeous views abound on American Samoa Crab at Auasi harbor Church members crowding onto a ferry at Auasi for the ride out to Aunuu island This boat is only authorized to transport 8 people but it is dangerously overcrowded. We held our breath as it made the slow journey to Aunuu Island Layanga and Robby watching in disbelief at the overcrowded ferry We feared for their safety but the church members were anxious to return to Aunuu Island so the overloaded boat made the perilous journey Yet another of Tutuila's numerous churches Meeting house in Aoa With so many coconut trees lining the road in American Samoa, it is amazing that you never hear of people or cars getting hit by rogue coconuts! Posh driveway to this upscale property We thoroughly enjoyed our Sunday ride with Layanga showing us his favorite spots The beautiful southern coastline of Tutuila Police headquarters; Pago Pago Panoramic view of Flowerpot Rocks Becky can't believe our delicious umu feast that Layanga graciously gave us for our Sunday afternoon meal The High Court; Pago Pago Seal of American Samoa U.S. Naval Communication Service building in Pago Pago Carved wooden tree trunk near Jean P. Haydon museum Robby demonstrates that this coconut is bigger than his head! Painting of a Samoan market scene; Jean P Haydon museum Beaded belt Outrigger canoe display; Jean P Haydon museum Traditional necklaces Shell and feather headdress display; Jean P Haydon museum Tattoo pattern for Samoan women (from their knees to upper thighs) Yummy lunch deals at Sweetie's Restaurant; Pago Pago Fagatogo Market Limited produce for sale at the petite Fagatogo Market School children wait for the bus Our Polynesian Airlines plane for the short hop back over to Apia (a 30 minute flight but we lost a full day as we crossed over the international date line) Clear skies as we depart Pago Pago for Apia foto gallery lightboxby VisualLightBox.com v6.1

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