The National Park of American Samoa is one of the most remote, and beautiful, parks in the National Park system. It is located in the South Pacific, about 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii. The islands that make up American Samoa stretch over 300 miles, though the combined land area is only 76 square miles. For a better idea of where it's located, you can find an American Samoa map at the official National Park of American Samoa website: www.nps.gov/npsa.
If you've ever dreamed of taking an exotic vacation, a trip to American Samoa will fit the bill. The National Park here serves to protect the only mixed-species paleotropic rainforest in the US today. Various flora and fauna and two coral reefs, as well as the Samoan way of life, are protected.
The first part of your trip to American Samoa will bring you to the main island of Tutuila. That is the nearest airport, Pago Pago International Airport, which is serviced several times per week via flights from Honolulu. There you can rent a car, or take advantage of public transportation in the form of buses. The buses are unscheduled, but run frequently enough that the lack of a schedule is not usually a problem. As far as lodging, there are hotels on all 3 islands of American Samoa, and many Samoan families extend an invitation to visitors to stay in their homes to truly experience the Samoan way of life. These home stays can be arranged via the National Park of American Samoa.
In addition to the main island of Tutuila, there are 2 other islands that make up American Samoa - Ofu and Ta'u. Just a short 30 minute plane ride from Tatuila will bring you to Ofu, where you can catch another short flight to Ta'u. In Ofu, you'll find a pristine ocean shoreline bordered by a coral reef. Ofu makes an ideal snorkeling and scuba diving location, but be sure to check with the park staff about any regulations you may be subject to. In Ta'u, you'll find Saua, a sacred site considered the birthplace of the Polynesian peoples. You can hike along the beaches and through the National Park. If you're lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of flying foxes, large fruit bats unique to this nation.
If you're interested in learning about the American Samoan culture in addition to enjoying the exotic landscape, you won't be disappointed. Much of what the National Park aims to do, protect the land and the environment, fits well with the Samoan culture. The Samoan culture considers their island world sacred, and the environment is managed in such a way to sustain the people while still planning for future generations. Given that the Samoan culture is pervasive on all of the islands, it's important to be aware of some cultural rules, including requesting permission to take photographs, observing Sunday as a day of rest, stopping during evening prayer (known as Sa), and not eating or drinking while walking through villages.
Whatever you decide to do on your American Samoa vacation, be sure to bring an American Samoa map with you so you can navigate. The islands are small, but can be confusing given the small roads and villages that blend into the landscape. Above all, go with an open mind and you're sure to have the trip of a lifetime.