Tutuila

Travel Guide Oceania Polynesia American Samoa Tutuila

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Introduction

Tutuila is the largest and the main island of American Samoa in the archipelago of Samoan Islands. It is the third largest island in the Samoan Islands chain of the Central Pacific located roughly 4,000 kilometres northeast of Brisbane, Australia and over 1,200 kilometres northeast of Fiji. It contains a large, natural harbor, Pago Pago Harbor, where Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa is situated. Pago Pago International Airport is also located on Tutuila island. Its land expanse is about 68% of the total land area of American Samoa and with 56,000 people accounts for 95% of its population. The island has six terrestrial and three marine ecosystems.

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Geography

Tutuila lies in the Pacific Ocean, roughly 4,000 kilometres northeast of Brisbane, Australia. The town of Fagatogo is situated 1,238 kilometres northeast of Suva, Fiji. The island lies roughly 530 kilometres north of Niue and roughly 580 kilometres south of Tokelau and roughly 100 kilometres southeast of the Samoan island of Upolu.

Tutuila is a fairly small and narrow island, measuring roughly 33 kilometres across and little more than 5 kilometres from north to south at its widest point. The area of this volcanic island of early Pliocene age is 142.3 km2 with a shore line of 101.3 kilometres. The hill range which runs from west to east is rugged and winding with the northern coast line having steep cliffs and unusual coast line. However, the southern part of the island has flatter terrain. Good beaches are located at many places along the coast. It has a wet tropical climate. The highest point in the Tutuila island is the Matafao Peak which is at an elevation of 653 metres, which is highest peak in the island. There is trail opposite to the Mount Alava peak (483 kilometres) which dominates the northern part of the island. This 9.7 kilometre-long trail is approached by a metal stairway from the southern end which goes right up to the peak. Trekking along the ridge through the rain forests without any additional support system, the scenic beauty of the South Pacific Ocean provides a delightful sight.

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Cities

  • Pago Pago - capital and largest city of American Samoa

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Sights and Activities

American Samoa National Park

The American Samoa National Park has a lot to offer for those travellers keen on the very best of nature in the world. The shorelines, reefs and rainforest are of outstanding beauty. The park actually is actually divided into three parks on four separate islands! Lata Mountain on Ta’u has wild and remote forests, free-flowing streams, and rugged coastline. It occupies 2,160 hectares of land with highlights including a spectacular escarpment along the southern side and cliffs up to 900 metres high. The the impressive Judds Crater tops things of. To add, the lowlands and rainforests are home to fruit bats and many native birds. Islands like Ofu and Olosega have are a bit different in that they have the most accessible coral reefs and also more and longer white-sanded beaches against a dramatic background. The fourth island, Tutuila even has forests accesible by car and also great wildlife and o course a scenic coastline. Basically, all four islands are actually extinct volcanoes heavily eroded to rugged peaks when the Pacific Plate moved and eruptions from within the earth together made this gift of nature.

Leone

Leone is a village on the island of Tutuila. It used to serve as the Polynesian capital of the island and also was the place where the first missionary, John Williams arrived in 1832. Leone has two fine churches and one of it is actually his work and was the first in American Samoa. This church has three towers and faces the sea, which only adds to its beauty. The well maintained church has stained-glass windows and nice detailed woodwork on the ceilings. Here you will also find a monument paying tribute to the efforts of John Williams.

Other sights and activities

  • Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary - colourul reef with corals and fish, great for snorkelling and diving.

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Events and Festivals

American Samoa Flag Day

Each April 17, the people of American Samoa celebrate the day the first United States flag was raised above their territory in 1900. Several homes and offices proudly fly both the Stars and Stripes and American Samoa’s own flag during this lively two-day celebration filled with feasts, parades, cricket matches, and traditional fautasi longboat races. Fagatogo hosts a fun traditional dance and music competition.

National Tourism Week

American Samoa now owes at least one-quarter of its gross domestic product to tourism, and during the first week in May, the territory celebrates this growing sector of its economy with this lower key equivalent to the Teuila Festival in neighboring Samoa. The festival’s highlight is undoubtedly the annual Miss American Samoa crowning on Utulei Beach, but locals and tourists also enjoy parades, canoe races, fireworks, and barbecues throughout the week.

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Weather

Tutuila has a hot and humid tropical climate. Temperatures hoover around 30 °C throughout the year and never drop much lower than 23 °C or 24 °C at night. Temperatures are slightly higher during the wetter November to March period and slightly lower between April and October. This last period is the best season to visit as it rains less (but still significantly) and there is almost no chance of hurricanes, which can strike from December to March.

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Getting There

By Plane

Pago Pago International Airport (PPG) is located on Tutuila island and receives all international air traffic.
Polynesian Airlines, Inter-Island Airways and Hawaiian Airlines all serve American Samoa. The first two serve Samoa (Faleolo Airport and Fagalii Airport near Apia), the latter serves Honolulu.

Inter-Island Airways flies between Pago Pago and the Manu'a island Tau, taking about 30 to 40 minutes.

By Boat

The only option to get to American Samoa by boat is taking the MV Lady Naomi. It operates between the capital of Samoa, Apia, and Pago Pago once a week departing Apia every Wednesday at midnight returning from Pago Pago every Thursday at 3:30pm, taking around 7 hours to complete the journey. Expect rough rides now and then. Although it costs about half compared to a plane ticket, it is rather basic and takes much much longer of course. The return deck/cabin fare from American Samoa is US$75/100 and tickets have to be purchased at least one day in advance from Polynesia Shipping Services.

The American Samoa Inter-Island Shipping Company operates the Manu'a Tele cargo ship. It departs Pago Pago for the Manu'a Islands on Wednesday at 10:00pm and it takes eight hours. The fare is US$35 one way, plus US$5 per piece of luggage. Tickets are only sold from 8:00am on the day of departure. The MV Sili also travels between Pago Pago and the Manu'a group. It departs Tutuila every second Friday at 10:00pm and a one-way ticket is US$20, plus US$1 per piece of luggage. Tickets are sold between 8:00am and 4:00pm on the day of departure.
As there are no direct flights anymore to Ofu from Pago Pago, you have to fly to Ta'u and arrange onward boats to Ofu from there. You have to arrange this when arriving on Ta'u with local fishermen and the price can be as high as US$100 per boat load, so try to look for fellow travellers to cut costs.

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Getting Around

By Car

Car hire is of use on the island of Tutuila and most international agencies have offices at the airport or Pago Pago. Although it is not the cheapest way of getting around it sure is one of the best. Allow a few days to see the main island.

By Bus

The island of Tutuila has a good public transportation system with frequent although somewhat unreliable “aiga” or “family” buses. They take you anywhere for a dollar or less. Buses originate and terminate at the market in Fagatogo, near the capital Pago Pago. You can flag one down anywhere and get of the bus anywhere as well.

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This is version 5. Last edited at 12:26 on Aug 22, 18 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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