American Samoa

Main attractions

Pola Island, American Samoa
Pola Island / Tavita Togia, Public domain, US National Park Service.

This small island country offers breathtaking scenery and interesting natural and archaeological landmarks.

Natural landmarks

  • Ana Pe'ape'a - Eastern District, southern shore of Tutuila. Small cave, the only known natural deposit of prehistoric vertebrates in American Samoa. Here have been found remnants of reptiles and birds who lived on the island 900 BC or later - most of them live here also today. It seems that by this time human presence already formed the present faunal composition in Samoa.
  • Faga'alu Waterfall - Eastern District, Tutuila. Beautiful veiled waterfall in natural jungle.
  • Laufuti Falls - Manu'a District, Tau Island. Spectacular, intermittent waterfall with four cascades, 13.7 to 131 m (third cascade) tall. Total height exceeds 200 m. After the fall the stream flows for a short distance through a spectacular canyon with more than 100 m tall vertical cliffs.
  • Ma'ama'a Cove - Eastern District, Aunu'u Island. Interesting coastal formation which makes spectacular splashes of the ocean waves.
  • Natural arch in north-east of Aunu'u - Eastern District, Aunu'u Island. Natural arch with a slanted form, shaped by the sea waves.
  • Pola Island (Cockscomb) - Eastern District. Small, narrow (max 130 m), elongated island with up to 100 m tall cliffs.
  • Tau coral colony - Manu'a District, southwest of Tau Island. One of the largest and oldest known hermatypic (reef-building) coral colonies. Most likely species of this coral is Porites lutea. Colony is 7 m tall, 41 m in circumference, healthy. Colony may contain some 200 million polyps. The colony might be more than 800 years old.
  • Vailulu'u Eel City - ocean near Manu'a District. A hydrothermal vent in the summit of enormous submarine volcano which rises 4,200 m from the ocean floor. The Nafanue volcanic cone in the centre of the 400 m deep caldera contains a group of hydrothermal vents inhabited by numerous eels (Dysommina rugosa). This is unusual - in general vertebrates do not live near hydrothermal vents.

Man made landmarks

  • Atauloma Girls School - Western District, Tutuila. A historical building which was constructed in 1900. Locals avoid it out of fear of ghosts.
  • Fitiuta petroglyphs - Manu'a District, Tau Island. Two prehistoric petroglyphs - a king of fishook with a ring of small holes and a group of small holes.
  • Pala Mud Lake - Eastern District, Aunu'u Island. Dangerous red colored mud (mostly inundated). According to local legends people here are pulled to the underworld by lost souls. Lake is full with eels.
  • Papaloa petroglyphs (Leone) - Western District, Tutuila. A group of 67 prehistoric petroglyphs, mainly rings of small holes, but also a drawing of turtle, octopus.
  • Saua footpath - Manu'a District, eastern Ta'u. Ancient raised footpath along the sea, built of stone. Around Saua are found numerous archaeological monuments.
  • Tafuna star mounds - Western District, Tutuila. In total in Tutuila island are known more than 80 star mounds (tia 'ave) - possible pigeon snaring facilities. Tafuna plain contains several such mounds, due to their proximity to inhabited centres they are the best known in the island. Age is unknown.
  • Tataga - Matau Fortified Quarries - Western District, Tutuila. Prehistoric basalt quarry. Stone tools from here are spread to the far Pacific islands. Large basalt grindstones - stones with deep hollows - are found near the quarry, towards the Vailotai. Fortified by earthworks and natural cliffs.
  • To'aga ancient settlement - Manu'a District, southern coast of Ofu. Remnants of an ancient settlement, continuously inhabited for 3000 years. Here are found also remnants of Lapita ceramics created in 1700 - 1300 BC.
  • Zion Church in Leone - Western District, Tutuila. Magnificent church, built in 1900 in the site where a missionary John Williams landed in 1832. Church has beautifully carved ceiling.

List of described attractions by districts

American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of United States. It is divided into 3 districts. Besides this there are two atolls.

Districts

Eastern District
Manu'a District
ArrowVailulu'u Eel CityEcosystem
Western District

Atolls

Rose Atoll
Swains Island

Map of American Samoa

Featured: Vailulu'u Eel City and "Moat of Death"

Dysommina rugosa eels in Nafanua Eel City, American Samoa
Dysommina rugosa eels in Nafanua Eel City / / public domain.

There is an unique place east from the easternmost Samoa island. Deep under the sea a summit of new volcano is quickly rising towards the surface and thousands of rare eels are living on the summit of this volcano. This is the weird Vailulu'u Eel City.

Recommended books:

The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific

In one of his most exotic and breathtaking journeys, the intrepid traveler Paul Theroux ventures to the South Pacific, exploring fifty-one islands by collapsible kayak. Beginning in New Zealand's rain forests and ultimately coming to shore thousands of miles away in Hawaii, Theroux paddles alone over isolated atolls, through dirty harbors and shark-filled waters, and along treacherous coastlines.

Headhunters on My Doorstep: A True Treasure Island Ghost Story

Readers and critics alike adore J. Maarten Troost for his signature wry and witty take on the adventure memoir. Headhunters on My Doorstep chronicles Troost’s return to the South Pacific after his struggle with alcoholism left him numb to life.

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