Written by our friends & adventurous blogging duo, Cees & Madison, of Our Vie Adventures. In 2016, they took to the road with the goal of seeing all 59 U.S. National Parks. Along the way they added an extra team member, their son Theo, who now travels with them. This is their experience in the beautiful American Samoa National Park.
We arrived to the Pago Pago airport around midnight; the airport was bumping. There are only three flights in and out a week to Pago Pago, so its always a party on the departing and the receiving end. It didn’t take us long to find our ride – our Airbnb hosts offered to pick us up and were there waiting!
Our first day there, we wanted just to get a lay of the land.
We wanted a day to just get to know how everything worked on the island. We rode the busses around and tried to get the lay of the land. (P.S. – these family-owned busses are the most amazing things ever! Maybe it is the fact that a lot of them are built on the same little Toyota chassis that our RV is built on! Someone should put together a book on the ins and outs of these busses with stories from each of the drivers. I’d buy it.)
We went to the visitor’s center and talked to the ranger about what hikes were open and what we absolutely needed to see while we were on island.
The Ranger was VERY helpful and gave us all kinds of good pointers. She even called a bus drive to see what time the earliest bus would be leaving to Vatia (the village closest to the trails we wanted to hike). Aren’t park rangers the best? We watched the park film, walked around the exhibits, and then went on our way. Have we mentioned that we LOVE the Park Service??
We got up early to catch the first bus to Vatia. The bus driver was expecting us and gave us a “tour” of the route along the way. He pointed out notable landmarks and told us the names of some of the mountains we could see out the window.
We got off the bus before the village and planned to catch the last bus out at 3:30. We figured we would do an out and back hike and have plenty of time to spare.
We hiked down a shorter trail at first – Lower Sauma Ridge Trail. From here we could see the famous Pola Island! It was really quite stunning.
We also had a really cool view into the tide pools below us. Even from up on the ridge we could see that they were teaming with life.
After our short hike down to the water, we turned around and set our sights on Mt. ‘Alava. We crossed the highway and headed up and up and up. We were on what was called the “Mt. ‘Alava Adventure Trail”. And boy, was it an adventure. It may have had something to do with us laying around on beaches for two weeks, but we had a hard time getting to the top! I think it was the extra 9 lbs we have to pack around with Theo. The first part of the hike was fun. We saw a few “Flying Foxes” or fruit bats. Such funny little guys!
After gaining most of our elevation, we hiked along the knife point of the island. This was my favorite part of the hike. At some points, we could see the ocean on both sides! It was super thick jungle, and then it would open up to the amazing ocean views!
Then came the junction. We realized that to get to the summit, we had to keep going, and not turn back toward Vatia. There aren’t any milage markers or really any signs for that matter out there, so we didn’t know how far we had gone, and we were worried about catching our 3:30 bus.
We kept going, and figured if we missed the bus, we could ask someone to call a taxi for us.
We topped out about an hour later and we are SO GLAD we did. The view was amazing! We could see the whole bay from the top!
The next day we rode the bus all along the coast looking for good places to beach it up. There was some fun snorkeling at Flower Pot Rock, and then a nice place to chill at 2 Dollar Beach (don’t be deceived by the name, the owners actually charge 5 dollars to get in. Ha!)
One of the coolest parts of visiting American Samoa is definitely the reef. We talked to the park rangers about protecting this tropical world and among many things, they said that one important thing we can do is always wear reef-safe sunscreen.
We choose Sunology to protect our bodies and the environment. Sunology is a long-lasting, nourishing mineral sunscreen that is reef friendly, oxybenzone-free. No parabens or perfumes. SPF 50 and FDA approved. No animal testing. 100% recyclable. These are the things we look for when choosing a product that we can honestly feel good about using for our family. We are so happy knowing that the small, good choices that we make now will have an exponentially positive impact for the future. Let’s protect our skin and those fishies!
The next day we decided to hike out to Fagatele Bay – a marine sanctuary where we were promised some of the best snorkeling and coral reef on the island.
The hike out to the bay was SO beautiful! But, unfortunately when we got to the beach, the tide was in and the ocean was unhappy and churning. We tried to swim out and snorkel, but the waves were too big and we were getting tossed around. It was pretty crazy and slightly scary. I didn’t even take any photos because there really wasn’t much to see since the tide was so high and we couldn’t get out to the reef.
Our last day on the island we took a local bus all the way to Tula village on the eastern side of the island to take a boat out to Aunu’u island.
The water there was some of the bluest, clearest, cleanest water we have ever seen. We wanted to jump straight off the boat it was so enticing!
Once we got to the beach, we were the only ones there, except for a 12 year-old local boy who hung out with us the entire time and barely spoke a single word haha. He was super cute.
Cees snorked and Theo and I took naps.
Don’t worry – Theo was protected from the sun the whole time. We lathered him up with Sunology for Kids and he didn’t get burned once! No rash, no teary eyes, no sketchy chemicals! We also had fun doing some finger painting. At one point he had a pineapple, a sun, and a mustache haha.
We loved this quiet, dreamy beach and wished that we could have stayed forever. Sadly, it was our last day, but definitely the best beach day.
We loved our time with the Samoan people and their beautiful island. We had a great time experiencing the new place, meeting great people, and having our “first adventure” with our own little guy. We will remember this place forever!