The National Park of American Samoa is a United States national park spread across the islands of Tutuila, Ofu and T’au in the U.S. territory of American Samoa. Along with several national parks in Alaska and Isle Royale National Park in Michigan, it is one of the most remote and least visited of the national parks. It also holds the unique distinction of being the only U.S. national park located in the southern hemisphere. The park holds and protects tropical rain forests on the islands’ volcanic slopes, beaches and coral reefs as well as birds, fish and other wildlife that thrive within those environments.
I chose to visit the National Park of American Samoa partly out of fascination with its remoteness and an interest in South Pacific islands in general, but also out of a desire to visit as many national parks as I can in my lifetime. Coming from Taiwan where I reside for part of every year, the park seemed closer than if I were to come from my home in South Carolina. Still, getting there involved flying from Taiwan to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to New Zealand, New Zealand to Samoa, taking a long taxi ride across the island of Upolu in Samoa from one airport to another, and then flying on a small plane from Samoa across the International Date Line and back in time 24 hours to American Samoa. The entire journey took well over a day.
Once in American Samoa, traveling to the more remote sections of the park in the Manu’a Islands involved a flight on a well-used Twin Otter aircraft to T’au and chartering a small fishing boat that puttered across rough seas from there to Ofu. The splendid isolation coupled with the beauty of the island and the park was well with the journey and the adventure of getting there made my experience on the island that much more enjoyable.
In the coming weeks, I plan to share some photos and accompanying stories from my time in the National Park of American Samoa, so please check back or subscribe to this blog if you are interested.