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Located in the heart of the South Pacific, National Park of American Samoa offers an escape from the everyday. National Park of American Samoa is like no other national park in the U.S. and is the only one in the Southern Hemisphere. One of the most remote parks, it includes sections of three volcanic islands —Tutuila, Ta’ū, and Ofu — most of which are rainforest. With a bit of explorer’s spirit, you can discover secluded villages, observe tropical forest plants and wildlife, snorkel coral reefs and explore the magnificent island and sea vistas.

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National Park of American Samoa

National Park of American Samoa   3 comments

American Samoa NP 00Where Is It: 2,300 miles southwest of Honolulu. It’s the only National Park in the southern hemisphere. Flights from Honolulu are scheduled for twice each week; flight time is 5-1/2 hours to get to Pago Pago, the capital city.

The Birth: Congress authorized the Park in 1988, but the culture of Samoa is for land to be owned communally, and as a part of the culture’s verbal tradition. In 1993, the Samoan village chiefs agreed to a 50-year lease for the land that is in the Park.

It Happened Here: A magnitude 8.0 earthquake created a series of four destructive waves that hit the Park on September 29, 2009. 32 people were killed on the islands by the waves. The Park’s visitor center was destroyed, and many cultural artifacts were lost.

Size: The Park is distributed across three separate islands: Tutuila, Ta’u and Ofu. 13,500 acres. 4,500 of those acres are coral reefs and ocean. The Park on the island of Tutuila is accessible by car; the other islands have no developed roads within the Park.

# Visitors: 10,440 visitors in 2012, a park record in its 11th year. November has the biggest attendance; May is the smallest.

Plants: A tropical rainforest covers most of the islands.  There are 343 flowering plants and 135 fern species in the Park.

Animals: The only native mammals are three species of fruit bats. Eliminating feral pigs is part of the Park’s mission; the pigs are non-native and harmful to the native ecosystem.

Choices: A side trip is to visit the Manu’a Islands, half an hour flight east of Tutuila Island. Known as the sacred islands of the Territory, their chiefs were the last to sign the Deed of Cession in 1904 handing over control to the United States of America. These lush tropical islands (three in total) are home to less than 2000 people with some of the most dramatic landscapes and the tallest peak, Lata Mountain standing at 3170 feet high. If you are up to the challenge, climb the steps to summit Lata Mountain.

Fees: There are no entrance fees.

Staying There: There is hotel-style lodging on all three islands; camping is prohibited in the park. There is a home-stay program with island residents that is a unique experience: visitors learn island culture up close and personal.

Contact Info:

Interpretation and Education Office
National Park of American Samoa
Pago Pago, AS 96799 USA
 
684-633-7082, ext. 22 phone

Current Issues: The protection and restoration of the native habitat continues to be a major focus of the Park’s resources. Nearly 100 Crown-of-Thorn Starfish were killed early in 2013, as they are a threat to the Park’s coral reefs. Last year, the Park partnered with a local village to remove all of the invasive tamaligi trees from the native rainforest. A second partnership resulted in an effort to eradicate another harmful invasive species, the pulumamoe, or rubber tree. Over 7,000 native tree saplings have been planted over the last 10 years within the Park.

Don’t Miss This: They call it a day hike: Tuafanua Trail.

Hike up switchbacks from VatiaVillage through lush tropical rainforest to a hidden coastline. At the ridge-top, enjoy ocean views before a steep descent on several ladders with ropes to a quiet, rocky beach and view of Pola Island.

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National Park Service: National Park of American Samoa

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