Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How to visit American Samoa (it's worth the trip)

American Samoa
August 12 - September 4

When reading cruising guides about Pago Pago, American Samoa, they all but suggest skipping it. Sure,  the harbor is bit of an eye sore, on occasion the tuna factory releases a putrid smell and thanks to a tsunami the anchorage is fouled, but there’s two sides to every coin. Once out of the harbor, American Samoa is a gorgeous country filled with some of the nicest people we’ve met.

                The checking in process in Pago Pago is nothing short of a total dick dance. Ask 6 different cruisers how they checked in and you will receive 6 different stories. When we checked in we visited 5 different offices and paid $100. Some boats visited 2 offices and paid nothing. Other boats visited 3 offices and also paid $100. What we do know, is that the $100 ship sanitation certificate fee is total crap. This is a fee to be paid by commercial vessels, not private boats. In exchange for $100 extortion we received a certificate claiming someone had inspected our boat and that we were without rats. We are indeed without rats, however no one actually inspected our boat. One boat argued with the guy, threatened to not check in and didn’t pay the fee. Other cruisers wrote checks that were never cashed. Upon checking out Phil complained about the extortion and was given back $50. Check out requires a trip to the Port Captain, Customs and  Immigration where you can expect to pay  $100 (legit fee charged by customs) plus however much you owe depending upon how many days you were anchored. Our grand total was $206 to visit our own country.  The Customs Chief caught wind of the many upset cruisers and was supposed to be having a meeting with all the parties involved to stop extorting money from cruisers…still no word on if they have stopped charging the ship sanitation fee. 

Located at the top of the dinghy dock, McDonald’s has free WiFi. Password: adminmcd17    The local library has excellent WiFi for $5 for the day. We chose to buy a sim card ($5) and load it with minutes and data, which worked well.

Exploring the island
American Samoa is littered with hikes and waterfalls. Grab a map from the National Park office (close to the anchorage) and explore!
Almost free beer/ wine
We are fortunate enough to be buddy boating with a veteran and had access to the commissary. A case of Miller Lite was $20, boxes of wine were $11 and $16. In French Polynesia prices were almost quadruple.

Cost U Less is a mini Costco with everything from microfiber bed sheets (you can stop sleeping on sheets held together with sailtape), Tillamook cheese, and clothes to a candy isle that never ends. TSM is a great grocery store that has fresh produce and an upstairs selling all kinds of household items.


There’s a laundry facility across the street and to the left of McDonald’s. Compared to the $20 a load in French Polynesia, loads of laundry here cost $3.25!

Receiving/ sending mail
Being able to receive packages​ sent by way of US Postal service is the real reason most Americans sail to American Samoa. We ordered supplies off Amazon and had them sent to South Carolina where Phil’s mom repackaged our goods into a US Priority Mail box.  Costing no more than the typical cost to send a box, she shipped our boxes on a Tuesday and our packages were ready for pick up by Saturday of the same week.

Your Name

General Delivery

1 Lumanai Bldg.

Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear you liked the place and people as much as we did. I only wish I'd captured photos as lovely as yours. Hope to see you soon!