American Samoa is a dependent state on the territory of the United States of America covering the eastern part of the Samoan Islands in the southern part of the Pacific Ocean. The country does not have any land borders, but its nearest neighboring counties are the Independent State of Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau, and Niue. The capital city is Pago Pago.
The climate is marine tropical with frequent trade winds. The temperature does not vary much during the year. There are two dry seasons in American Samoa: from April to May and from September to October. It rains often in the period from December to April. The best time for spending holidays on the islands is from June to August.
The official languages are English and Samoan. The majority of the population can speak both languages well. Protestantism is the main religion, every fifth person on the islands is a Catholic.
American Samoa is mainly a beach resort. Almost every place on the coast is good for having a good rest, but the most popular beaches are the Two Dollar beach, Ofu Beach, and Maliu Mai Beach.
Excursions will bring a bit of diversity in your holidays but excursion tourism is not the main aim for the tourists. Usually, the tourists who get bored with the beach go to the National Park of American Samoa, Fagatele Bay, Alava Mount and take a boat trip to the distant islands or isolated areas of the coast to enjoy wild nature.
Some travelers come to American Samoa for surfing. The surfers usually gather on the Alofau Bay, Carter Beach, and Leone Bay. Many areas fit for diving especially the coral reefs near the Ta'ū island.
There are no direct flights between American Samoa and Europe. The tourists can take transit flights with several stops through the USA, Australia or New Zealand to Samoa, Fiji or Tonga. The tourists from the Western Europe prefer to fly through the USA. The first stop is at one of the airports on the eastern coast, then Honolulu on the Hawaiian Islands and then the tourists can take a direct flight to Pago Pago. This route is a long one, but the most trouble-proof.
The tourists from the Western Europe can stay on the islands for 30 days visa-free. The citizens of Eastern Europe, including Greece and CIS countries, must obtain a visa at the Immigration Service of American Samoa. De facto, one can call the central office in Pago Pago and send the documents by e-mail or by fax. But actually, this method is not available so we recommend obtaining a visa in Samoa or in the American state Hawaii. The time for processing the documents for a visa is about 3 working days.
There are no direct flights from Europe to American Samoa so you may need transit visas of the countries through which you are going to fly to the islands.
The transportation of foreign and national currency is not restricted but the sum exceeding 10.000 US dollars must be declared. Gold and jewelry must also be included in the declaration form.
The tourists can import the following goods duty-free:
- a small amount of alcohol and tobacco;
- a small amount of perfume;
- personal belongings and gadgets for personal use.
It is prohibited to import:
- meat and other non-canned food products;
- items having artistic and historical value.
It is not allowed to export from American Samoa:
- items having artistic and historical value;
- items found on the bottom of the sea;
- products made from corals, turtle shells, feathers and skins of local animals and birds.
The Samoan cuisine was developing under the conditions of scarcity caloric plant and animal foods, but with the abundance of seafood. That is why the local cuisine does not differ much from cooking traditions of other peoples of Oceania.
Due to its high price, for a long time meat was an ingredient which the locals cook and eat only for holidays. The Samoans prefer pork and poultry. The tourists should try Puaa Tunuvilivili (roasted pig), Taisi Moa (chicken wrapped in banana leaves), and Moa Tunupau (chicken roasted over the charcoal).
Typical soups on American Samoa are Suafa’i (banana soup) and Sua I’a (fish soup with coconut milk).
In the restaurants, the tourists should order Oka I’a (finely chopped fresh fish, marinated and served with coconut sauce), Faiai Fee (the same dish but with an octopus), Faiai Eleni (herring in coconut milk), and Vaisu (the fish is first prepared as for the dish Oka I’a but then it is roasted).
Fruits and vegetables are usually eaten fresh or with minimal thermal processing. Do not leave American Samoa without trying Alaisa fa’apopo (rice porridge with coconut milk) and Fa’apapa (coconut bread).
Fruits and coconut water, sweets are traditional desserts in American Samoa. The tourists should try Fa’ausi (caramel dessert from flour, sugar and coconut), Keke Fa’i (banana cakes), Panipopo (sweet coconut cakes), Pisua (tapioca with coconut caramel), and Poi (banana pudding).
Try such non-alcoholic drinks as Koko Samoa (cacao-based tonic beverage) and various juices such as Vaimeleni (watermelon drink) and Vaifala (pineapple juice).
Alcoholic drinks are usually imported, but the locals make beer Vailima and the beverage ‘Ava. It is not alcoholic, but has the same effect as alcoholic drinks.
The official currency is the US dollar (USD) which is equal to 100 cents. In circulation are the banknotes from 1 to 100 dollars and coins from 1 cent to 1 dollar.
The tourists can buy the currency beforehand as US dollar is one of the most convertible currencies in the world. In American Samoa, one can exchange currency at banks and at the airport.
Credit cards are freely accepted but beyond Pago Pago, especially on the outer islands, the cash is preferable. There are not so many ATMs on the islands and you can find them mainly at banks.
The tourists can cash traveler’s checks at any bank, in many stores and hotels and in travel agencies. It is better to have the checks in US dollars.
Details of interest
Sightseeing in American Samoa
There are no UNESCO sites on the territory of American Samoa but several places on the islands can be interesting for the tourists.
- The American Samoa National Park covers three islands and this is one of the main touristic sights.
- The National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa in Pago Pago.
- Jean P. Haydon Museum on the Tutuila island is a small museum demonstrating cultures and traditions of the Samoans.
- The Matafao Peak, the Rainmaker Mountain and the Alava Mountain are the three very beautiful peaks of the volcanic origin on the main island. These places attract the fans of active holidays and hiking.
- Aunu’u island is a small volcanic island famous for its Ma’ama’a Cove and Pala Lake.
- The Fogama’a Crater is one of the few proves of the latest eruption in Samoa.
- Le’ala Shoreline is an area in the western part of the main island which can boast of an interesting geological structure.
- The Vai’ava Strait on the north of the main island. It is a great example of cliffs formed by waves volcanic rock.
- The Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
- The village of whale hunters Leone with its worship house will be interesting for those who like unusual architecture and beautiful views.
Souvenirs in American Samoa
In American Samoa, the tourists usually buy:
- traditional clothes;
- wooden souvenirs;
- woven bags, baskets, and rugs made from screw-pine;
- crafts from coconut shell.