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American Samoa

Getting around

Boat

The American Samoa Inter-Island Shipping Company (633 4707) operates a cargo vessel called the Manu'a Tele, which departs Pago Pago for the Manu'a Islands on Wednesday at 10pm; the trip takes eight hours. Passengers pay US$35 one way, plus US$5 per piece of luggage. Tickets are only sold from 8am on the day of departure; the boat operator's waterfront kiosk is otherwise unmanned. This boat is a good option for divers who want to transport tanks to the Manu'a Islands, which they cannot do by plane.

The MV Sili (633 5532) also chugs between Pago Pago and the Manu'a group. It departs Tutuila every second Friday at 10pm and one-way tickets cost US$20 (plus US$1 per piece of luggage); tickets are sold between 8am and 4pm on the day of departure. This boat doesn't enter Manu'a harbours - rather, you transfer to a smaller boat at the harbour entrance.

Ask each operator about pick-up times from Ofu and Ta'u.

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Car & motorcycle

Car

Hiring a car allows you to explore Tutuila quickly and comfortably via the island's good sealed roads. That said, complete reliance on a hire car will rob you of the unique cultural experiences that can be gained on public transport.

At the time of writing, motorcycles were not available for hire in American Samoa.

Hire

When hiring a vehicle, check for any damage or scratches before you get into the car and note everything on the rental agreement, lest you be held liable for damage when the car is returned.

Insurance

It's essential to have your hire car covered by insurance, as repair costs are extremely high. Several local car-hire firms offer contracts where there's no option of accepting a CDW (collision/damage waiver). The lack of a CDW technically means that the car hirer is liable for all costs resulting from an accident, regardless of whose fault it is, so sign such contracts at your peril. You should insist on a CDW, for which you pay an extra fee of around US$8 to US$10 per day.

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Bus & tram

Bus

Villages and towns on the island of Tutuila are serviced by 'aiga-owned buses. The vehicles - modified pick-up trucks with deadly sound systems - theoretically run until early evening, but don't try to test this theory out after 2pm on Saturday, or on Sunday after church services are finished. All buses display the name of their final destination in the front window. To stop a bus, wave your hand and arm, palm down, as the bus approaches. To signal that you'd like to get off the bus, either knock on the ceiling or clap loudly. Pay the fare to the driver; try to have the exact fare.

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Air

Inter-Island Airways (in Pago Pago 699 7100, in Ofu 655 7100, in Ta'u 677 7100; www.interislandair.com) services the 30-minute air route between Tutuila and the Manu'a Islands. Flights between Tutuila and Ofu cost from US$140 return, as do flights between Tutuila and Ta'u. Services are frequently cancelled due to unsafe cross-winds at the Manu'a airstrips.

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Bicycle

Tutuila is not very conducive to a cycling tour. The island is mountainous, traffic can be heavy, and a complete circuit is impossible since there are no roads across the rugged north coast. Dogs can also be a major hassle here. You could conceivably take a bike over to the Manu'a Islands by boat, but the minimalist road networks of these islands make this a rather dubious plan.

Cyclists heading to American Samoa should come prepared for the almost incessant heat and humidity, and should bring their own repair kits, spares, a good lock and heavy-duty panniers.

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