ABOUT


Ofu Island, 60 miles east of Pago Pago, has been called the jewel of the South Pacific. The island boasts one of the healthiest and most diverse coral reefs in the world. The Ofu portion of the National Park Of American Samoa, the United States' most remote National Park, has a pristine beach fringing a crystal clear lagoon.

Located on its own sandy beach at the foot of Mount Tumutumu, Vaoto Lodge, owned and operated by the Malae family, is the premier lodging and dining choice on this quiet island of less than 200 people.

The National Park  of American Samoa is a ten minute stroll from the Lodge. Its warm, calm lagoon is a coral garden with every color imaginable.  Starfish, sea turtles, and thousands of fish of every shape and size will join you as you snorkel its shallows.

After a long day hiking and swimming, a dazzling sunset leads to a sky filled with stars. Thousands of miles from light pollution, Ofu's heavens will dazzle. The Southern Cross is visible, as are falling stars, framed by the shimmering veil of the Milky Way.

Ofu and neighboring Olosega and Ta'u islands are striking in their beauty.  Your memories of the islands will be enhanced by the photographic opportunities the islands present every day.  Renown photographer Michael Anderson has visited Ofu many times and his photos speak volumes about the island's magic.

Ofu's south shore is the icing on the cake. Here, more than a mile of untouched, undeveloped, palm-fringed sand is part of America's newest (and least visited) National Park. You can walk its length every day and chances are the only footprints you'll see will be your own.

FAQ


First, the anti-FAQ

Please don't contact us with questions that have been addressed here. This FAQ exists to help you, please read it and use it to your advantage.

Also, don't email and ask us to predict the weather or airline schedules during the time you are thinking of visiting Ofu. We're not blessed with this sort of precognition.

Interaction with guests:

Lodge owners Ben and Deb live in a separate house on the east end of the lodge property and respect your privacy. Employees Terry and Colleen live in a house behind the kitchen/dining room common area.  We will be there to meet you when you arrive and one of us will usually be nearby in case of emergency. If we are free, we will be more than happy to chat, or if you prefer alone time, you've got it! We have other responsibilities and can't always socialize as much as we would like, but we are available to answer any questions, provide recommendations and advice, and help in any way possible. Also, we have dogs and cats, you may see them in the yard, but they won't be in your space or in the buildings.

NOW, THE FAQs:

WHERE CAN I GET CURRENT INFORMATION ABOUT THE LODGE AND THE ISLAND?

A:  Visit our Facebook page.  This is where the most updated news and info is placed, generally pinned to the top.

OK . . . SO HOW DO I PRONOUNCE THE NAMES OF THESE PLACES?

A:  Ofu = OH-FOO.  Pago Pago = PAHN-GO PAHN-GO (almost like “bongo-bongo”). Olosega = OH-LOW SEHN-GAH.  TA’U = TAH-OO.  Tutuila = TOO-TOO EE-LAH. Samoa = SAH MOH-UH.  Vaoto = VAH-OH-TOE

DO YOU ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS?

A:  No. Cash is our preferred method of payment, PayPal is our alternative.  Payment is expected when you check out. There is no ATM on Ofu. There are ATM located near Pago Pago airport. Stop by an ATM before you leave for Ofu.

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, Samoa Airways limits Ofu-bound passengers to 15-kg (33-lbs) checked baggage, 5-kg (11-lbs) carry-on.  Excess baggage charges start at $2 per kg.  20-kg (40-lbs) checked bag/5-kg carry-on limit is valid for flights departing Ofu.

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 merchandise. Bring your snorkeling gear and load your phone with some good books! Also, be sure to pack mosquito repellent, sunscreen, hiking footwear, and a reusable water bottle.

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?

A:  Shorts and T-shirts will do fine almost anywhere on the island. Manu'a Islanders are culturally conservative and 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. Closed-toe Keens are a nice all-around solution.  You're also gonna need a hat to protect yourself from the sun.

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. This doesn't happen often, but it's better to be prepared than not.

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 as far as passengers 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.

Visit their website HERE for fares and schedules.

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 (Terry & Colleen) or 684-655-0777 (Deb & Ben).  Terry also maintains a US Google Voice number: 563-484-0004.  Due to Ofu's remoteness, we may be having internet or telephone connectivity issues.

Our social media guy Terry is a journeyman Ofu traveler [I made my 28th trip in May 2019, and now live and work at the lodge --Terry] and is available to help answer your Ofu Island travel questions. Have a lot of questions or need a quick answer? Avoid long, confusing email chains and don't hesitate to give him a call 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 many west coast cities as well as 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.  Hawaiian Airlines Pago-bound flights from Honolulu are on Mondays and Thursdays.

Plan on spending at least one night in Pago Pago.  Flights usually leave in mid-morning and take 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 Samoa Airways for their routes between Apia, Samoa, and Pago Pago.

Talofa Airways has daily flights between Apia, Pago Pago, and weekly flights to Tonga.

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

Hawaiian Airlines also serves many Pacific rim destinations, but will require a connection through Honolulu before traveling on to Pago Pago.

Samoa Airways connects Apia with Auckland and Sydney.

Keep in mind that if you are coming/going via Apia you will be crossing the International Date Line.  In other words, even though it's a thirty minute flight, if you leave Apia on a Monday you will arrive in Pago on Sunday.  If you leave Pago on a Monday you will arrive in Apia on Tuesday.

WHAT DOCUMENTATION DO I NEED IN ORDER TO ENTER AMERICAN SAMOA?

A:  US citizens and nationals must have a valid (non-expired), machine-readable US passport.  If your passport is expired or lost, you may apply for an "OK BOARD" to enter the Territory.  Read more HERE.

All travelers need to satisfy current entry requirements at TalofaPass.

All foreigners are required to obtain Entry Permits in order to lawfully enter American Samoa. There are circumstances where Entry Permits are not applicable. Those circumstances require travel authorizations referred to as "OK Boards" in order to enter.  Certain foreign nationals must apply for an "OK BOARD" via the Entry Permit Waiver Program.  Details HERE. More information is HERE.

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 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:  Samoa Airways operates two flights a week to Ofu on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  This schedules are subject to change, please check with the airline for up-to-date information. Currently, Samoa Airways has Manu'a flights scheduled through January 22, 2023.

Samoa Airways fares for these flights are about $200 roundtrip and varies based on availability.  Please consult the airline for specific and updated information. 

Manu'a Island flight reservations can be booked by phoning Samoa Airways office at (684) 699-9126 or 699-9127 or contacting them online. Booking agent Afiona can be emailed at afiona.samoaairways@gmail.com.

CAN I FLY MANU'A AIRWAYS TO OFU?

A:  Like you we've seen their website but Manu'a Airways is not an airline, despite convincing evidence to the contrary.  Trust us, it isn't.

CAN I RENT A CAR ON OFU?

A:  There are no rental cars on Ofu. 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, and the National Park Beach is a fifteen minute walk down the road from your door. If our truck is available, we can take you any place on the islands for $5/trip one way.

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 cool/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 "cool and dry" season to be somewhat warm and 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 --

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.  If the trade winds are blowing, humidity is much less of a factor.
 
WILL MY ROOM HAVE AIR CONDITIONING?

A:  Some of our rooms have air conditioning; others are well-ventilated with louvered windows, ceiling fans, and oscillating fans.
 
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, free WiFi is available in the common dining area of the lodge.
 
WILL MY CELL PHONE WORK ON OFU?

A:  Consult with your phone provider, but probably not.  It's unlikely that your mainland phone will work -- see this as your opportunity to get away from it all!  Alternatively, you may be able to purchase a SIM card from ASTCA or BlueSky in Pago Pago that will work on some areas of Ofu.  If the island's internet is working, a Google Voice number over a WiFi connection will allow you to connect to phones back home.  Other VOIP/chat options will also work.
 
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 at high tide. The wave action is typically in the 4-8 foot range but breaks fast and erratically into the calm of the lagoon.

It may be difficult (impossible?) getting a surfboard on the small aircraft which serve the Manu'a Islands.
 
CAN I HIKE ON OFU AND OLOSEGA?

A:  Yes, however, hiking up Olosega's Piumafua mountain is not recommended.  You will have to secure permission from Olosega village officials if you want to make this hike and we are not in a position to help you make contact.  Similar permission may have to be found to hike to Maga on Olosega.  If the National Park ranger is on island, he or she may be able to help out.

Bring proper shoes and pants for any hike you intend to tackle.

We have no reliable contacts or information about hiking possibilities or accommodations on Ta'u Island.

Any hikes or swims that involve passing through Ofu or Olosega villages are forbidden on Sundays.  These hikes include (but are not limited to) Maga Point, Tumu Mountain, and Piumafua Mountain. Sunday is a day for rest and villagers would prefer privacy.  The National Park beach is open on Sundays, as is our area around the lodge, Vaoto beach, runway beach, and sunset beach.

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.
 
IS THE WATER SAFE TO DRINK?

A:  Yes, Ofu's water is safe.  Bring a reusable water bottle or flask and fill up before heading out for the day.  Please don't bring a bunch of single-use plastic water bottles to our island!

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

A:  No. The US Post Office does not serve Ofu Island.

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.  Both are interred in the lodge's front garden.


Contact the lodge via email at vaotolodge@gmail.com or phone at 684-655-1120 (Terry & Colleen) or 684-655-0777 (Deb & Ben).  Depending on your phone provider, this will likely be an international call (read: not cheap) 

Have more questions? Don't hesitate to ask Terry! Terry can also be reached via telephone at 563-484-0004 for a good, old-fashioned voice conversation -- please, no text message!

This website was last updated on November 18, 2022

RATES

Cash is our preferred method of payment.  We will also accept PayPal.

Classic Room per night

-- Single: $90
-- Double: $110

Air Conditioned Room per night

-- Single: $130
-- Each additional person: $20

Family Cabin per night
-- Single: $150

Due to a long-term booking, our family cabin is unavailable through mid-2023.

-- Each additional person: $20
The Family Cabin is designed for two adults and two children under 12.  If your family is five (with small children) we will endeavor to accommodate you. More guests than this will be required to book separate rooms.


Due to the current tenuous and costly nature of shipping supplies to Ofu, meal arrangements will be determined when guests arrive.  Food will be available, we simply cannot state in advance exactly what the situation will be.

RESERVATIONS

First, please read our House Rules:

1 - No smoking in any lodge structure or vehicle.

2 - No smoking within 30-feet of any occupied guest room or common area.

3 - Please try to keep excess beach sand out of your room and common areas.  Rinse feet with hoses located near rooms 1 and 10.

4 - For the comfort of other guests, observe quiet hours between 9pm and 8am.

5 - Lodge dining area closes and is locked up at 10pm unless a special event is happening.

6 - Please help us conserve energy: Don't burn the light outside your room after 10pm and turn off all lights, fans, and your air conditioner when your room is unoccupied.

7 - Unless you've been given specific permission, the kitchen, pantry, truck, garage, tool fale, and laundry are for employees only.

8 - To conserve resources, bed linens and towels are not changed daily unless specifically requested.  There will be a charge for fresh linens.  Linens may be changed free of charge after a stay of 7 nights.  Room access by staff will be required.

9 - We have dogs and cats on the property.  Respect them and they will (probably) respect you.

10 - Please help keep our island beautiful and don't leave trash around the property, on the beach, or in the ocean.

11 - No open containers of food allowed in guest rooms unless stored inside a room refrigerator.

12 - Please promptly return all glasses, coffee cups, dishes, and silverware to the dining room if you take them from that area.

To acknowledge our House Rules, click HERE to submit a reservation.