National Park of American Samoa (American Samoa)

National Park of American Samoa in pictures. Photo’s taken at  Ofu, Tau and Tutuila, the three parts islands that form  American Samoa National park. This American Samoa visit was part of a two year journey to visit all 60 National Parks of the United States. 

 

American Samoa is literally located at the other side of the world. A stop in Honolulu (Hawaii) created the opportunity for a quick visit of Pearl Harbor and a hike to the top of diamond head. Hawaiian airlines informed all passengers about airport lights repair works at Pago Pago airport. Hawaiian airlines was forced to change all flights to daytime arrival and departure in Pago Pago (Pronunciation = pongo) This tiny airport in Pago Pago is overwhelmed when the gigantic Hawaiian plane arrives a couple of times a week. First through immigration (make sure you arrange your visa for American Samoa online before arrival), The baggage belt was not working and it was hot and humid in April. 
Thanks to Samoan air  and the ability to store my luggage  I made my connection on a small propellor plane to the Manua islands. First stop Tau. The Samoan islands are former volcanoes in a chain of small islands. They were formed when tectonic plate moved over the hotspot in the earth mantle.  It was a 25 minute flight to Tau with awesome views of the islands of Ofu and Tau. “Auntie”, a local grandma welcomed the people who disembarked the plane at Fitiuta airport. My guide Keith picked me up for a  lunch and hike in the National Park on TaU island. Old ruins found indicate that the first inhabitants of the island arrived more than 3000 years ago. Keith brought me to his home where I met his mother who was working on some coconuts in the backyard, very friendly people. Graves of relatives are in the backyard next to their house. All houses look identical because after a devastating stom in the 90s FEMA rebuild almost every structure on the island. Today also Tesla is present on the Manua islands with a  solar project. In the afternoon Keith dropped me at the local harbor of Siufaga at the west side of the island.  Two fisherman were waiting to bring me to the island of Ofu. 

Ofu was literally a photographers heaven with perfect beaches, awesome night sky and perfect snorkeling possibilities.  I was honored to stay at the Vaoto lodge close to the national park beach and the ranger station.  From Ofu there was a once a week flight scheduled back to  Pago Pago. I received a handwritten boarding pass with my name and seat number. before entering the plane everybody had to step on a scale. 

Tutuila

The remaining 5 days of I stayed on the main island Tutuila. Thanks to  my guides from South Pacific Watersports , Michael, Paula, Johanna  this was an awesome experience which i will always remember. 
Tuafanua trail from Vatia village to pola island. (Nesting place for birds) I had to use ladders and ropes to descent to the beach from it was able to get close to Pola Island.
On the way back there is another trail called, Lower sums trail, with outlook over Pola island and tide pools.
One of my guides was a teacher and explained that a lot of kids under educated compared to American kids at the same age. In sixth grade still people who can’t read. Healthy food never teaches to the kids. Even companies Make ads that certain chips is healthy food. Brushing teeth not a natural habit for kids at school. Schools serve healthy breakfast. 
Tutuila island after storm Gita in 2018. During my stay on the island I witnesssed a lot of damage. Houses have numbers to identify where the damage is. 

A special experience was the curfew time at 6pm, I walked back from local store and chief on te road asked if I was living in the area and that I had 5 minutes to walk back. At the second bell 5 minutes past the hour everybody had to be indoors. 10min later the bell rang for the end of the curfew. 

Aunu’u

Hiking on Aunu’u . On the way to the boat there was a beautiful rainbow over Pago Pago harbor next to Mount Alava. We crossed the  water between Tutuila and Aunu’u.  There are approximately 200 people living  on Aunu’u island,they have 4 churches and some friendly dogs who joined during the walk over the island Highlight was crossing the aunu’u crater to the ma’ama’a cove on the eat side of the island.

To close this fascinating visit to this tiny group of islands I made it to the Ocean center. A good scientifc exposition and short videos about American Samo, its  underwater world and culture  connected to the ocean. This trip wouldn’t have been successful without my guides from South Pacific Watersports. Michael, Paula, Johanna and also Keith on TaU, Bryan the ranger on Ofu and Ken and Deborah from te Vaoto lodge on Ofu! A big thanks to all of you.

 

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