Over 4,000 acres of this national park is underwater. The other 9,000 acres is spread across tropical rainforests and steep volcanic slopes. The National Park of American Samoa has sights you won’t see in any other national park from flying foxes to plants found nowhere else in the world. And this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip too– considering it’s about as far away as New Zealand with around 14 hours of flight time over 5,000+ miles of open ocean.
American Samoa is five islands and two coral atolls, and the National Park of American Samoa is spread across three of the main islands. Located in the South Pacific, American Samoa is the southernmost U.S. territory and the only inhabited place south of Equator in the U.S. That’s all to say, it’s remote. For national park enthusiasts, Alaska and Hawaii aren’t the most difficult places to check off the hiking list. It’s this place.
The Island of Sacred Earth
A hike in the National Park of American Samoa isn’t just an experience out in nature. Samoan villages in the park carry on the tradition of Fa’asoma: the Samoan way. At around 3,000 years old, Samoan culture is Polynesia’s oldest. If you visit a village in the national park, you might find yourself sharing in the ava drink, joining a family for prayer during Sa or sharing a meal in a fale, a traditional home.
With only around 5,000 visitors a year, it’s one of the least visited national parks in the U.S. Compare that with the 11.4 million annual visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and you’ll understand just how untouched this natural area truly is.
Getaways in the National Park of American Samoa are a little different from other national park outdoor adventures. For one, you won’t find the usual facilities of most national parks. The mercifully secluded beaches in American Samoa are, well, secluded. You’ll have the sand and surf all to yourself, which means if you get in a pinch help is a long way out. And with its location in the tropics, American Samoa is much more humid than most people are use to. The humidity levels can be so high that even with rain gear, you’ll still be soaked.
But for the adventurous spirit, The National Park of American Samoa is well worth the hours of flights, days of planning and remote location. At the end of all that work, travelers will find reefs teaming with fish and coral, large flying fox bats, tropical rainforests, picture-perfect beaches and the welcoming Samoan tradition of fa’asamoa.