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Nestled deep in the Samoan Archipelago lies the hidden treasure of American Samoa. Aptly referred to as the Heart of Polynesia, its white palm-fringed shores are greeted by the warm tropical waters of the South Pacific Ocean.
While European explorers first arrived in the 18th century and the US occupation began in 1900, the islands were inhabited as early as 1000 BC by Polynesian navigators. Not to be confused with Western Samoa, American Samoa comprises six islands located in the Samoan Archipelago halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. While there is a strong American influence in the islands, American Samoans proudly retain their cultural heritage.
The main island of Tutuila is mountainous and wonderfully scenic, with good hiking in the National Park of American Samoa. Transport around the island is cheap and buses operate from the market in Fagatoo. The island's list of attractions includes a wealth of waterfalls, local villages, native wildlife, beautiful beaches, and captivating archaeological sites. So visitors will have plenty to keep them busy.
It is also home to the capital and only port of call, Pago Pago, which is both an entertaining and informative village. The US-style stores, restaurants, and bars are a refreshing change for anyone who has been travelling the Pacific Islands for a long time.
American Samoa boasts some of the most breathtaking beaches anywhere in the South Pacific. The warm, humid climate makes this a lovely tropical holiday destination. Getting off the beaches and into the turquoise waters themselves provides a real adventure as visitors explore the biodiversity of marine life on offer here. Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a must for all diving or snorkelling enthusiasts. It is a haven for flamboyant tropical fish, crabs, lobster, sharks, and octopuses.
The National Park of American Samoa, which is essentially three parks laid out across four extinct volcanic islands, also offers visitors some of the best scenery for miles and is well-worth the visit especially for hiking enthusiasts.
The weather is warm, the people hospitable, and the country exquisitely gorgeous. The memory of American Samoa is one that will certainly be relived for years to come by all those who visit this wonderful country.
The voltage used in American Samoa is 120V, 60hz. Plugs are type I with an earthing pin and two flat pins forming an inverted V-shape.
US nationals: A passport or other valid form of ID is required, but no visa.
UK nationals: A passport valid for six months beyond arrival date is required, but no visa is required for touristic stays of up to 30 days for British Citizens.
CA nationals: A passport valid for six months beyond arrival date is required, but no visa is required for touristic stays of up to 30 days.
AU nationals: A passport valid for six months beyond arrival date is required, but no visa is required for touristic stays of up to 30 days.
ZA nationals: A passport valid for six months beyond arrival date is required, and a visa is required.
IR nationals: A passport valid for six months beyond arrival date is required, but no visa is required for touristic stays of up to 30 days.
NZ nationals: A passport valid for six months beyond arrival date is required, but no visa is required for touristic stays of up to 30 days.
Visitors must have a passport valid for six months beyond arrival in American Samoa. Visas are not usually required for touristic stays of up to 30 days, but there are exceptions. Visitors must also have proof of sufficient funds, documents for their next destination, and an onward ticket.
It is advised that travellers get routine vaccines before travelling. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and a yearly flu shot. Visitors should consider vaccinations for hepatitis A and typhoid. Medical services in Western Samoa are somewhat limited, with the LBJ Tropical Medical Center in Pago Pago being the only facility. So it is best that travellers take prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs with them in case of illness. Comprehensive travel insurance is advised.
Tipping is not practised or expected in American Samoa. However, if a guest wishes to tip an employee, they are welcome to do so.
Most visits to American Samoa are trouble free. For optimum safety, travellers should ensure that they are alert when on foot and choose a safe vehicle when using transport. They should ride only in cars that have seatbelts and avoid overcrowded, top-heavy buses and minivans.
American Samoans are known to be friendly and generally welcoming, but travellers should be sensitive to local cultural mores. Many American Samoans have adopted Western-style dress but the traditional wraparound lavalava is still worn by many of the older generation.
In keeping with Samoan custom regarding modesty, visitors should not wear swimwear or other skimpy clothing away from the hotels. Women must confine their bikini tops to the beach. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in American Samoa since 1980 but visitors should be aware that same-sex couples are not eligible for the rights and benefits available to different-sex married couples.
Business in American Samoa is professional and largely based around the economy's strongest industries, agriculture, and fishing. Lightweight suits for business visits are acceptable and ties need only be worn for formal meetings and occasions.
Professional and authoritative positions are held mostly by men, but women do occupy important roles in government agencies and businesses. Businesses generally operate between 8am and 5pm and are not open over the weekend. Some businesses and banks are open on Saturday mornings, and there may be some small markets open.
The international country dialling code is +1. The country area code for phones in American Samoa is 684. Visitors can purchase local SIM cards and pre-paid mobile credit, and will find free wifi at hotels and restaurants in Pago Pago.
Travellers to American Samoa may bring with them up to 200 cigarettes, 100 cigars, 1 litre of alcohol, and an amount of perfume reasonable for personal use.
American Samoa Visitors Bureau, Pago Pago: +1 684 633 9805
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