Frequently Asked Questions
Why aren't there more or better trails?
The entire park has steep terrain, unstable volcanic soils, in a heavy tropical rainfall climate. It is very hard to build and maintain trails in this environment. Though the park is new and has a very small staff, some short to moderate trails have been completed. Always check with the park for current trail information.
If I get lost or injured while visiting this park will I likely be rescued?
Currently, the park lacks a search and rescue capability. The territory also lacks the training, staff and equipment for complex search and rescue operations. Also, note that the nearest United States Coast Guard vessel is in Honolulu, thousands of miles away. Therefore, don't push your limits: there may be no one to help you.
Instead of having a lease involving many villages' lands, why didn't the United States Government acquire the necessary park lands outright (as has been done in most other United States national parks)?
American Samoa retains many longstanding cultural traits relatively unchanged over time. Among them, Samoans retain their ways of communal ownership of land, an oral tradition of boundaries rather than written or surveyed, and a fierce protection of land and the status land provides a family. The deeds of cession that the United States signed when making American Samoa a United States territory in 1900 and the American Samoan constitution provides the Samoan people a guarantee of this cultural tradition. Thus, it was simply impossible for the United States to acquire and own the lands for a national park there. Instead the law that established the park stipulated,"The Secretary (of the Interior) shall establish the park only when the Governor of American Samoa has entered into a lease . . . for a period of 50 years (of) the lands and waters . . . for purposes of the park. . . all lease payments made by the United States under the lease . . . may be disbursed only by the Governor, in amounts determined by the High Court of American Samoa, to those villages and families located within the boundaries of the park. The High Court of American Samoa shall have exclusive jurisdiction to determine the amount to be disbursed under this section to any person."
Why won't the National Park Service help me get the payments I feel I should for my lands that are within the park?
As explained in the question above--the park does not have authority or jurisdiction to resolve such land payment issues. That responsibility and authority lies solely with the High Court of American Samoa.
Why does the United States have a national park in such a distant place as Samoa?
The United States "System" of National Parks has the outstanding places representing our Nation's finest natural, scenic, cultural and scientific heritage. This national park, in the United States Territory of American Samoa, adds the Nation's finest examples paleotropical rainforest, superb Pacific island scenery, and outstanding coral reef ecosystems to our country's National Park System. If you can't yet visit the park in person-browse this website and its many illustrations. Though remote, this is a first rate national park.
Are there special health risks, or tropical diseases, of concern when visiting this park?
American Samoa has few health risks for normally healthy people. But bring necessary medications with you, for supplies may not be available locally. Medical care is limited on Tutuila Island, and even more difficult in the remote Manu'a Islands. If you come down with serious medical needs you can only receive this level of care in Honolulu, Australia, or New Zealand.
Drinking unfiltered and unpurified stream waters, or swimming in freshwater streams with open sores or cuts, may expose you to typical tropical maladies--diarrhea, giardiasis, dysentery, hepatitis and leptospirosus. Tropical diseases unfamiliar to residents of North America such as malaria, dengue fever, cholera are very uncommon in American Samoa, but you can obtain current relevant information from the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website http://www.cdc.gov/travel/reference.htm Check their current CDC health status, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/ Usually there are no problem situations listed for American Samoa.
Is there a dress code?
Although there is no official code, dress is very modest in American Samoa. Men and women should wear clothes that cover their shoulders and knees. When swimming or snorkeling be sure to cover your bathing suit with shirt and shorts.