We arrived in the Southernmost territory of the United States on a beautiful morning in May. American Samoa already had our hearts—it was covered in lush, beautiful green mountains! It is slightly larger than Washington D.C. (76.1 square miles) and consists of 5 volcanic islands and two coral atolls (reefs).
We started our day by wandering Southeast from the cruise ship parking, and found ourselves at the a beautiful building run by the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. They were having some type of event with live music and food stalls out front. We wandered inside and enjoyed some air-conditioned presentations on their globe-screen that was suspended in the center of their exhibition center. They told us about the preservation of reefs in the area, and recommended some great places to go snorkeling (if we had been better prepared).
Next, we wandered further down the street and found ourselves at Sadie’s By the Sea, supposedly American Samoa’s best accommodation (and possibly one of their very few)! We didn’t look at their hotel rooms that were nicely located directly on the beach, but we did admire their beach and recreational activities. Playing on their nice private beach or Kayaking sounded fun…but we were on a mission to see more of the island, first!
Their private beach…
We walked back along the main road and considered some of the local tours that were wildly cheap ($10 per adult for 3 hours, if I remember correctly). However, the hard wooden benches in the buses, as well as the cramped quarters, helped us decide we wanted to do a private trip again.
It wasn’t long before we saw a “taxi” that we flagged down. We agreed upon $20 per hour, and he estimated he could show us a large portion of the island’s sights in 4 hours. We started on a drive towards Afona Pass, which we were told would give us a great view at the top of a mountain.
Just as we turned into a neighborhood street to head up towards Afona Pass, we heard and felt a “POP!”
Awesome. Our taxi driver had 3 tires in great condition, but this front left one was completely bald. We hung out in front of someone’s home for 30 minutes and waited while our driver contacted his cousin to take over the job…
His cousin, a big Polynesian named Candy, showed up with his decorated SUV, and we loaded up and left behind the original driver to deal with his tire.
Candy immediately turned around and started heading back into town.
“Um…we were going up Afona Pass,” we said.
“No, my car can’t do it.”
“Well, then we better go find a new taxi driver.”
“Okay, I will go.”
And it was a beautiful view!
Through some more adamant prompting we got him to take us down the other side of the mountain to Afona Bay…then further down the road to Vatia Bay, via Amalau Bay.
The end of the road was Vatia Bay, a very small village with beaches made entirely of coral.
Big chunks…small chunks….some as big as your head!
Am I the only one that finds these South Pacific buses cool?!
We took the one and only road back up the pass…and Candy’s SUV certainly did struggle at times. But hey, that’s what we had originally agreed upon when we started the journey with his cousin!
Had we been ready to go swimming (and willing to pay a taxi driver to wait), there were certainly some beautiful places to swim in the Alega area.
One of those included Tisa’s Barefoot Bar, a place that asked for a donation at the entry (to assist in beach maintenance), and also entitled you to a free drink. We weren’t sticking around long enough for that…but I did manage to convince her to simply let me run down and view the beach, and I also snuck a small handful of the softest sand I have ever felt in my life!
Not far away from Tisa’s beautiful Barefoot Beach we found the free version. I wish I knew its name!
Looking back over the bay, we had a great view of Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas—our home for this 18 day Transpacific family cruise!
We then left the North Eastern part of the island and started heading to the South part of the island, to what was also supposed to be spectacular. Our driver was soooo slow and basically gave no input or explanations for anything. We decided 3 hours had been enough, and after a quick stop for some fresh coconut water, we ended our tour!
He dropped us off at a free beach next to Sadie’s Hotel that I mentioned above (within walking distance, Southeast of where the cruise ships park), and we changed into our swimsuits for a quick swim. There were many locals out enjoying the beautiful afternoon, as well as a whole slew of old folks from the cruise ship.
I’d love to return to American Samoa and do some snorkeling at several of their many amazing reefs. I feel like we barely scratched the surface, and it would be a real treat to spend some quality time here!
Best of all? With our American passports we’d have no worries about VISA’s and restricted time to be there—it’s all American soil, baby!!