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Airport Beach is one of the best hidden beaches in American Samoa. Like many things on this tiny South Pacific island, it can be almost impossible to find without a local to help you. Well, consider us your guide to this secluded piece of tropical paradise. Everybody needs something to call their own and for us, half jokingly, it’s this beach. Here is everything you need to know about American Samoa’s Airport Beach.
Where to Find Airport Beach
Airport Beach is located on the west side of American Samoa’s main island of Tutuila. It lies between the airport runway and the ocean on the opposite side of the airport from Lyon’s Park. To get there, head away from the airport and towards the village of Iliili and the golf course. After passing KS Mart on your left, look for a sign for Maliu Mai Resort. Turn left at this sign. This road will lead you to the small village of Fogagogo. Follow this road until you see a sign for the Continental Transit Corporation. At this sign, the road splits. Stay to the left and follow the road until it ends. Keep in mind this road gets smaller and smaller the further you go. You can park your car at the end of the road.
The Hike to the Beach
Once the road ends, you have to start hiking. The makeshift trail can easily be accessed by following the black rock wall over one small little hill and then turning immediately left at the end. From here it becomes pretty self explanatory. The only real challenge at the beginning of the trail can be the overgrowth if it hasn’t seen an Echo Trimmer in a while. However if it’s really grown up at the end of the wall, don’t be discouraged, it won’t last for long. When you get out into the open the foliage disappears, and fascinating rock formations, blowholes, and some scattered sand takes its place.
As you head left and clear the brush, you will have to climb a small stack of rocks which seems to set you free. This opens you up to one of the most aesthetically beautiful treks in American Samoa. You will know you’re in the right place when you see the Airport fence and runway on your left. If you time it right you might even get an up close look at a Talofa Airways plane returning from Apia.
The Highway or Scenic Route?
As you continue down the shoreline you now have the airport on your left and ocean on your right. Depending on the tides, weather, and your preference, you can choose your path to the beach. If you’re not in a site seeing mood and want to get to the beach as quickly as possible then stick to the fence and take the “highway”. This will get you in the water faster but only gives you a view of the airport and the backside of a bunch of bushes. If it hasn’t been trimmed in a while, then this option doesn’t exist because the trail basically disappears.
In my eyes, the other option is better anyway. The scenic route gives you an amazing hike filled with the wonder of the natural world. The beauty of this area can draw your attention in so many different directions that you might want to take your time getting to the water. Even if you do, you can usually be at the water within 20-30 minutes. Be sure you don’t get too close to the water’s edge though. The tide can be sneaky sometimes and the height of some of the swells that crash the shore will surprise you. If you use your head and watch your footing, this venture is easily.
The Sights Along the Way
Take in the colonies of crabs that scatter when you come into sight, high soaring frigate birds dive-bombing the ocean, and small tropical fish that have found their way into the tide pools that fill up at higher tide.
Just as you reach the beach, you will run into two of the eighty-one World War II pillboxes that ring Tutuila and stand as a reminder of US occupation in the Pacific theater. These historical pieces always welcome curious children in your group, who sometimes find them more interesting than the beach itself. Sometimes, though, unsuspecting crabs will scurry out as you enter.
Welcome to Airport Beach!
To the victors go the spoils. You’ve made it to Airport Beach. Depending on the tides, you will encounter two sandy areas separated by high tide in the middle, with an embankment of large rocks leading up to the airport fence behind you. If it’s low tide, one continuous beach will run the length of the rocks. Usually, you’ll have the place to yourself. If someone else happens to be there, there’s plenty of room for everyone to enjoy. Play in the sand, snorkel, go for a swim, or do some fishing.
The one downside to Airport Beach is that there is not much shade there, so you might want to bring an umbrella or other shade if you’re going to stay a while.
The Marine Life
Airport Beach took a hit with coral bleaching, as documented in the Netflix film, Chasing Coral, however it does show some signs of recovery. The snorkeling here is pretty decent. The end closest to the pill boxes remains shallow even during high tide. It provides an enjoyable place to examine some coral up close and look at some smaller tropical wildlife. This is a great area for younger children to enjoy the ocean.
The far end of the beach contains some massive drops that are always bustling with surgeonfish, Moorish idols, and parrotfish. I’ve spotted sea turtles and eels out here from time to time. I’ve also heard stories of stingrays seen in the area. If you’ve got time and want more adventure, make your way out around the light tower to explore more open water.
American Samoa has more than its fair share of natural beauty, and Airport Beach is a prime example of that. It is a wonderful place to see some awe inspiring blowholes. Whether you’re looking to spend all day at the beach, or just want a quick scenic hike, Airport Beach is a great (and free) option that is somewhat hidden. For more ideas on things to do in American Samoa, check out Blunt’s Point, Fatumafuti, best hikes, and things to do with kids. For planning help, see our tips for visiting. Have questions? Leave a comment so we can help! Happy travels!