Hang on – are we referring simply to Samoa here? Actually no – Samoa and American Samoa are two different places, although they are not too far apart on a map. Here we are focusing on American Samoa and its currency, which you would be correct in guessing is the US dollar.
The US dollar is split into 100 cents and there are coins available in both coin types. There are five coins that are in cents, and these are the 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent coins. There is but one coin denominated as a dollar, and that’s the dollar coin itself.
As for banknotes there are several of these you can use while in American Samoa. In theory the smallest note is the $2 note but it is so rarely seen that you might be forgiven for thinking it’s a total fake if you do see it! Other than that you will come across the $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills, although the smaller ones are of course a lot more common.
American Samoa is formally known as an unincorporated territory of the United States. American Samoa became a territory of the US back in 1899. Rivalries meant different countries laid claim to the islands here, and this is why American Samoa exists as part of the US today while Samoa is an entirely different group of islands. American Samoa is also recognised as an official user of the currency, as opposed to many other places in the world that use it but are not recognised as such.
As you can imagine it is enormously easy to find the US dollar when you need it. For starters you can easily get hold of some dollars long before you even leave home. Just order them from whichever bureau de change offers the best exchange rate.
You can also use traveller’s cheques while in American Samoa. It makes sense to get them denominated in US dollars so make sure you order some of these while you get your currency. If you have them in any other currency you might still be able to exchange them but you might have a more challenging time of it.
It is quite easy to get money out while you are there too. Look out for one of two banks in the islands, namely the Bank of Hawaii or alternatively the Amerika Samoa Bank. Either of these will have cash machines you can use to withdraw money easily. Finally you might also use credit cards but be warned that Mastercard isn’t always used here. Perhaps not surprisingly the best card to use is Amex.
Every currency converter worth its salt should provide you with a chance to see how your currency fares against the likes of the American dollar at any time. This is the most popular currency in the world after all – the top reserve currency as well. All you need to do is use the ISO code USD to find it and to locate your own currency as well to get the current conversion rate. You may find you get a different rate to this when it comes to actually exchanging your currency. Bureaux de change make their money by offering an exchange rate that is preferential to them, which is why you have to shop around for a good deal.
If you are looking for more information about American Samoa before you actually go there, you can do no better than to visit the government website in the UK. There is a page dedicated to travel advice on this area at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/american-samoa.
You will be pleased to know few people have any problem when travelling to American Samoa. While some places are rife with problems this does not seem to be one of them. Indeed it could be said to be one of the safest places in the world you might choose to visit.
Of course it does make good sense to check you have an eye on your belongings wherever you go. You should find it easy to take all the basic precautions you would at home. Crime doesn’t occur that often in American Samoa but this doesn’t mean it is extinct. If nothing else, being careful will ensure you don’t accidentally leave anything behind when you are exploring the islands.
American Samoa sits in the South Pacific Ocean. It is not a single island but actually consists of five islands, of which Tutuila is the main island. Aside from these there are also a couple of coral atolls. If you look on a map you will find Samoa – distinctly different from American Samoa as mentioned above – not far away to the north-west.
The capital of American Samoa is a place called Pago Pago. The landscape here, as is the case with much of the islands, is quite stunning and is definitely an attraction in itself. It boasts its own harbour and is a popular stop-off point for many different cruises, so if you visit the islands in this way you may well see Pago Pago as your first port of call.
You may also want to see the Sadie Thompson Building while you are in town, since this appears on the US National Register of Historic Places. It is not the most impressive historic place you will ever see, but it does have a claim to fame as somewhere W Somerset Maugham stayed at. The author stayed there in 1916 and apparently developed a rash as a result!
Also available for you to visit is the National Park of American Samoa. This is quite stunning and provides you with an opportunity to take in a spot of hiking. The park offers a variety of changeable settings, including beautiful beaches and a backdrop taken up by tropical rainforests. Now doesn’t that sound like an appealing opportunity you wouldn’t want to miss? If you are quiet while hiking you might spot some of the beautifully-coloured birds that make their homes in the forest.
Hiking is actually a great activity to get involved in when you are in American Samoa. There are plenty of good trails to follow and some are very well signposted as well. One of the best hikes most people could reasonably follow is the one that leads you up to the top of Mount Alava. You can expect some great views from up here and while you may well break out in a sweat doing it, you will be rewarded with sensational views once you do reach the top.
Another great spot to visit – for more than one reason – is Fagatele Bay. This is a charming area and it is also a National Marine Sanctuary. There are all manner of fish, invertebrates and other creatures protected by the sanctuary, and you can learn a lot here as a result of your visit.
One of the other islands in the group called American Samoa is known as Ofu. This is very small compared to the main island but if you get a chance to pay a visit for the day make sure you do so. Part of the National Park of American Samoa is available on this island as well as the main one, as is the case with another significant island nearby. Here though you can follow the Tumu Mountain Trail that has been created by people who work for the National Park. The mountain itself is some 1600 feet in height so it offers great views if you are ready to appreciate them. The walk up to the top is just under three miles and the views are well worth making the trip for. Make sure you pack plenty of water and some snacks, and opt for stout footwear too so you are safe underfoot.
As you can see, American Samoa is a great place to head for if you want to make sure you have a chance to enjoy a real slice of nature. As you can pay for everything in American dollars you shouldn’t take too long to get used to the currency either!
You will undoubtedly be impressed with the chance that exists to get closer to nature in American Samoa. This little group of islands may not be that well-known, but once you have seen them for yourself you may understand why this is the case. Surely anyone who goes there will want to keep them a secret so they can continue to enjoy the many delights the islands have to offer. The natural world is certainly resplendent in its glory in American Samoa.