FAQ

DO YOU ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS?

A:  No. Please plan to bring cash or traveler's cheques. And, no, there is no ATM on Ofu. There are ATM locations near the airport at KS Mart and Bank Of Hawai'i. Stop by an ATM just before you leave for Ofu and grab some cash.

HOW MUCH SHOULD I PACK?

A:  Pack light, pack smart. Due to the small aircraft that fly between the islands and the length of the runway, Polynesian Airlines limits passengers to 20-kg (44-lbs) of baggage on flights bound to Ta'u.  Ofu-bound flights limit passengers to only 5-kg (11-lbs).  The 20-kg limit is valid for flights departing Ofu.  This means, it's better into fly to Ta'u and take an alia boat to Ofu and fly out of Ofu if you are not traveling very light.

Additionally, Hawaiian Airlines limits Pago Pago passengers to 50-lbs checked bags. There are no clothing stores on the island and the local bush stores have a very limited selection of non-food supplies. Be sure to bring your snorkeling gear and load your tablet with some good books!

 

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?

A:  Shorts and T-shirts will do fine almost anywhere on the island. Manu'a Islanders are culturally conservative, therefore modest swim wear is expected when you're on the beach. Men and women alike are welcome to wear lavalavas at any time. Bring good walking shoes or sandals.

If you plan on trekking on Tumutumu Mountain, cargo pants (or jeans) and sturdy hiking boots will help, but are not necessary, lately the trail has been fairly clear. You can borrow one of our machetes. If you want to hike Olosega's Piumafua Mountain, bring a compass, GPS, tent, a Sherpa guide, rain gear, plenty of food and water, first aid kit, and a strong relationship with your god -- people routinely get badly lost up there!

It would be wise to pack a change of clothes in your carry-on as well as your important documents and snorkeling gear in the event your checked bag is bumped off your flight due to weight restrictions.

 

I'M A GLUTTON FOR PUNISHMENT, IS THERE A BOAT THAT I CAN TAKE TO OFU?

A:  Yes, however its sailing days are difficult to predict. The boat is primarily for freight and not the most accommodating vessel on the high seas as far as human beings are concerned. Choose this route only if you are very sure of your sea-worthiness! The eastern voyage to to the Manu'a Islands is against the ocean's current and prevailing winds and therefore is rough. The night at sea will be chilly, and it's likely you'll get wet. If you don't get seasick, someone near you will. The crossing takes several hours depending on weather and seas. If you're very lucky they will call on Ofu before leaving out for Ta'u, otherwise you'll wait it out at Ta'u island while the vessel is unloaded. If they can't make it into harbor they will unload outside the harbor onto small boats and ferry cargo and passengers to shore. Bear in mind that this will take no small amount of time to accomplish. If the boat can't enter Ofu's harbor, a similar protracted ferrying operation will ensue.

Contact MV Manu’atele at 684-633-4701 which makes the Manu'a run in 6-8 hours depending on weather and seas. $30/person one way + $1 for each piece of luggage.  It's supposed to depart for Manu'a every Wednesday evening. but it's best to verify the schedule in advance.

 

WHY HAVEN'T YOU ANSWERED MY EMAIL OR CONFIRMED MY RESERVATION REQUEST?

A:  If more than a week has passed since your message to us and you are concerned, please telephone us at 684-655-1120.  Due to Ofu's remoteness, we may be having internet connectivity issues.

Our social media guy Terry (based in the mainland U.S.) is a journeyman Ofu traveler [I made my 25th trip in August 2015 --Terry] and is available to help with answers to your Ofu Island travel questions and can try to contact the lodge on your behalf. Have a lot of questions or need a quick answer? Don't hesitate to give him a call! Terry can be reached via telephone during evening hours (Central Time) at 563-484-0004.


HOW DO I GET FROM THE MAINLAND U.S. TO OFU?

A:  Catch Hawaiian Airlines to Pago Pago. You'll connect through Honolulu. We recommend flying to the west coast from your home city and spending the night there on the way down and coming home. Hawaiian Airlines serves Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, Phoenix, New York (JFK), and Las Vegas. It's a long flight to the islands of American Samoa and you'll appreciate the rest. Alternately, spend a day or two relaxing in Honolulu on your way down and back instead of a west coast city. Hawai'i is almost as nice as Ofu!

Flight time from Hawai'i to Pago is five hours.

Plan on spending at least one night in Pago Pago, the flight to the Manu'a Islands usually leaves in the late morning or early afternoon and takes about 25 minutes to reach Ofu Island.

 

HOW DO I GET FROM [MY HOME COUNTRY] TO AMERICAN SAMOA?

A:  If your travel plans do not (or cannot) include passing through the U.S., in most cases you will have to get to Apia, Samoa and then onward to Pago.

Please see Polynesian Airlines for their routes to Apia, Samoa and Pago Pago.

Virgin Australia flies from Australia & New Zealand to Apia, Samoa

Fiji Airways flies to Apia from Honolulu and connects to many other Pacific destinations

Hawaiian Airlines also serves Australia, Tahiti, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China, but will require a connection through Honolulu before traveling on to Pago Pago.

 

HOW MUCH IS AIRFARE?

A:  Airfare from Honolulu to Pago is around $1000. Airfare from the west coast is around $1400. As is usual with airfares these prices are subject to change. The HNL-PPG fare does not vary too much and special fare sales for this route are practically non-existent, you will save money by booking on the cheap for the Honolulu leg of your journey.

In most cases, booking at least 30 days in advance will result in the best fare. Hawaiian Airline's website typically has the lowest fares and saves you booking fees charged by some travel websites.

 

HOW DO I GET TO OFU FROM PAGO PAGO?

A:  As of May, 2015, Polynesian Airlines operates one flight a week to Ofu and four flights a week to Fitiuta Airport on nearby Ta'u Island. The Ofu flight is on Thursdays. The Ta'u flights are on Mondays, Tuesday, Wednesdays and Fridays. If you fly on the Ta'u flights, we can help to arrange boat transport to get you to and from Ofu.

Polynesian Airlines fares for these flights are about $165 for adults and $140 for children under 12 years old.

Manu'a Island flight reservations can be made up to 30-days in advance by phoning Poly's Pago office at (684) 699-9126 or 699-9127 or contacting them online.

If you wind up flying to Ta'u Island, we can help to arrange a ferry ride from there to Ofu.  Contact us the day before you travel from Pago to Manu'a.  Ta'u-Ofu ferry runs about $150 per trip.  You should expect to tip the driver who takes you from Ta'u airport to the harbor about $20.  Upon arrival at Ofu harbor we will have someone pick you up and take you to the lodge free of charge.

 

CAN I RENT A CAR ON OFU?

A:  There are no rental cars on Ofu. Actually, there are no cars since the villagers drive pickup trucks or SUVs, and many of these are manual-shift vehicles which more easily negotiate our mostly unpaved road. Hitching a ride is an accepted and safe way to get around Ofu and Olosega. You can walk from one end of Ofu to the other in an hour or so.

 

DO I NEED A PASSPORT?

A:  Yes. Even U.S. citizens should travel with a passport when coming to American Samoa. Info on getting your passport is here.

 

CAN I FLY TO PAGO PAGO NON-STOP FROM THE U.S. MAINLAND OR OUR HOME COUNTRY?

A:  There is no non-stop flight to Pago Pago. You must connect through Honolulu or Apia, so unless you live in Hawai'i or Samoa you'll be stopping along the way.

 

WHAT TIME OF YEAR IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT OFU ISLAND? WHAT'S THE WEATHER LIKE?

A:  That depends on what you mean by good! The dry season is May through October. Keep in mind that Vaoto Lodge is on a tropical island 14-degrees south of the equator, so you can expect our "dry" season to be somewhat wet! You can't have a rain forest without rain and it typically will rain a little every day no matter what time of year it may be. That being said, temperatures and humidity tend to moderate slightly during the dry season.

These charts help illustrate common Samoan weather patterns:

Typical Samoan Weather Patterns

 

More specifically and locally, between May and September the sun swings northerly and keeps our side of the island cooler, somewhat out of the direct sunlight and during much of the day the lodge area is in the shadow of the mountain. On the other hand, the wet season is steamier making for a warmer lagoon and a more verdant jungle.

 

WILL MY ROOM HAVE AIR CONDITIONING?

A:  No. There is wonderful air conditioning in Los Angeles hotel rooms and Sydney hotel rooms and Honolulu hotel rooms. The air in our cabins is uniquely conditioned by the South Pacific Ocean, trade winds, and the rainforest and requires no tampering on our part. Fall asleep to the sounds of the sea and the jungle or rain on a tin roof instead of a droning machine. We think you'll find it quite pleasant!

 

WILL I NEED AC POWER ADAPTERS FOR MY ELECTRONIC GEAR ?

A:  American Samoa uses US-style 115-volt electrical power. All of our rooms have power. If you're coming from the States, no adapter is needed.

 

DO YOU HAVE WiFi?

A:  Yes, though our connection speeds are not comparable to what you commonly find back in the 'real world.' If you must stay connected, the rate is $2 a day per room or $10 a week per room.  Internet is for paying guests only.

 

WILL MY CELL PHONE WORK ON OFU?

A:  No. See this as your opportunity to get away from it all.

 

WHAT'S THE SURFING LIKE?

A:  Unlike some areas of Samoa, Ofu's surfing is not great. Our broad fringing reef rises abruptly from the open ocean and becomes so shallow that many portions of it are exposed during low tides. Large coral heads dominate our lagoon, most within inches of the surface even at high tide. The wave action is typically in the 4-8 foot range but breaks fast and erratically into the calm lagoon.

It may be difficult (impossible?) getting a surfboard on the small aircraft which serve the Manu'a Islands. Perhaps an Uli Board would be a good bet.

 

CAN I SCUBA DIVE AT OFU ISLAND?

A:  At this time there are no SCUBA facilities on the island. Unless you'll be pre-shipping a compressor, tanks, and gear for yourself you'll have to be content with our unparalleled snorkeling.

SCUBA divers should be aware that the nearest functional decompression chamber may be as far away as Fiji or New Zealand -- DAN insurance would be a wise investment.

 

CAN I PRE-SHIP ITEMS TO MYSELF AT THE LODGE?

A:  No. The US Post Office does serve Ofu Island, however it is extremely unreliable and your parcel will likely become lost.

 

I WANT TO VISIT TA'U ISLAND. WHERE DO I STAY?

A:  At this time Ta'u Island has no hotel-like accommodations suitable for tourists. If you are intent on going to Ta'u we recommend using the NPS homestay program. See the National Park's website for details.

 

WHERE ARE MARGE AND TITO?

A:  Malae family patriarch and Vaoto Lodge founder Tito Malae passed away on August 25, 2008. He will be greatly missed by not only his family, but his friends and all who've visited Vaoto Lodge since he first opened the doors in the '80s. Many guests will always remember sitting with Tito at sunset and listening to him talk story about growing up in Manu'a in the old days. The official newspaper announcements from the family has been archived here and here.

On May 10, 2015, Marge Malae passed away at her home on Ofu after an extended illness.


Contact the lodge via email at vaotolodge@gmail.com or phone at 684-655-1120

Have more questions? Don't hesitate to ask Terry!


This website was last updated on March 15, 2017

.
Oft times I’ll spend my entire day there
and never encounter another human."