Pago Pago, capital city of American Samoa
Pago Pago is the stunningly beautiful capital of American Samoa, a chain of seven islands in the South Pacific. The city sits at the western end of a bay on the island of Tutuila and is hugged by lush, verdant mountains. The remote destination offers plenty of opportunities for adventure, including swimming, hiking, snorkeling, whale watching and more.
The coral reefs that fringe the island are home to stunning marine environments just waiting to be explored. Over 250 species of coral and 950 species of fish thrive in the clear warm waters, making the tropical sea biodiversity incredible. You will see giant clams, snappers, barracuda, white-tip reef sharks, black-tip reef sharks, sea turtles, pilot whales, porpoises, Maori wrasse and a dazzling array of corals.
The shore dives at Breaker's Point and Faga'alu Bay offer many treasures, but even richer dives await at offshore sites like Rose Atoll. Located 130 miles southeast of the island, the atoll is one of the world's most pristine sites and boasts many endangered and threatened marine species. Ofu Island is another must-see site for divers because over 350 acres of coral reef stretch just under the waves.
The north-central part of Pago Pago's island is blanketed by the National Park of American Samoa. The natural ecosystem is shaped by unique animal forms, like the fruit bats that fly among the mountains and the coral reefs that line the shores. Bewildering and awesome, the biodiversity makes the park one of American Samoa's greatest treasures. As you hike the well-marked trails, you may spot three species of fruit bat, five species of geckos, eight species of skinks, Pacific boas, cane toads, Polynesian rats, wild dogs, pigs and more creatures.
To learn more about both the natural and cultural riches of American Samoa, take advantage of the national park's Homestay Program. Visitors stay with locals in a village setting, surrounded by the lush sights and remarkable sounds of the rainforest. Between hikes, visitors participate in traditional village activities, like cutting the leaves of the Pandanus tree and weaving them into mats. The unique opportunity gives visitors a meaningful introduction to the way of life on the islands.
To uncover the history of American Samoa, head to the Jean P. Haydon Museum in Fagatogo, a village just outside of Pago Pago. Housed in the historic Post Office and Navy Commissary buildings, the museum boasts books, gifts, artifacts and collections that introduce visitors to the islands' history, including moon stones presented by former president Richard Nixon.
Although there are a number of American fast food chains on the island, there is nothing like a traditional Samoan feast. Many establishments in Pago Pago put on the authentic meals, offering sprawling buffets and entertaining floor shows complete with music, dancing and fire. Indulge in palusami, a dish of cooked taro leaves, onions and coconut cream that accompanies roasted pig, the follow it up with a tall glass of kava, the national drink made from the roots of native pepper plants.