Created in 1988, the territory’s sole national park protects huge swathes of pristine landscapes and marine environments on Tutuila and the Manu'a Islands. The 1000-hectare Tutuila section follows the north coast between the villages of Fagasa and Afono. Trails within park boundaries are often very well maintained. Be sure to bring strong mosquito repellant.
The National Park Visitor Information Center in Pago Pago is an invaluable source of information and maps.
There are scores of hikes within the park to choose from: brochures available at the information centre (and online) list them all. In order of difficulty (easy to challenging), here are three popular hikes:
Pola Island Trail
Vatia is a peaceful village situated on a lovely, coral-fringed bay. Guarding the mouth of the bay, tiny Pola Island has magnificent, sheer, 120m-high cliffs populated by seabirds. For a close-up of soaring rocks and birds, head through the village and park at the school, then walk 300m to reach the wonderfully isolated beach at the base of the cliffs.
From Aua, a surfaced road switchbacks steeply up over Rainmaker Pass and down to Afono and Vatia. Between these two villages is the beautiful, secluded Amalau Valley, home to many forest bird species and to two rare species of flying fox. Stop at the lookout point just past the western side of Amalau Bay for some wonderful views.
Hiking the trail that leads up Mt Alava (491m) and then down to the coast is a wonderful way to experience the park’s lowland and mountain rainforests, its thriving birdlife, and the peacefulness that permeates it. On Mt Alava, a metal stairway leads up to a TV transmission tower and the rusted remains of a cable-car terminal that once ran 1.8km across Pago Pago Harbor to Solo Hill. The 5.5km ridge trail (1½ to two hours one way) starts from Fagasa Pass. Behind the rest fale at the end of this section, a very steep trail (including ladders in places) leads 2km down to Vatia; allow an additional two hours for the descent.