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The small island territory of American Samoa is full of natural beauty. However, most of it is tucked away in hidden spots waiting to be discovered. Many of these gems also come with an interesting legend or historical backstory. Turtle and Shark is one of those places. For me, it tops the list of most beautiful places on this island. It is simply breathtaking. In addition to being awe-inspiring and legendary, it is one of those places that demonstrates the sheer power of the ocean. It is definitely one of the must-see places in American Samoa.
What is Turtle and Shark?
Turtle and Shark is a small area of shoreline in the village of Vaitogi on the island of Tutuila in American Samoa. Most of the shore here is made up of black lava rock. Some of the rock forms a rather steep cliff above the water. While there is a small area of sandy beach, it is not advisable to swim here. The waves are large and come crashing in on the rocks pretty forcefully. This is, though, a perfect spot to sit and admire the beauty and majesty of the ocean. It is also a fabulous place to take pictures of the ocean.
Vaitogi is on the south side of the island, not too far from the urban area of Tafuna. As you drive west on airport road, you will see a sign marking the turnoff to Turtle and Shark. This little dirt road is quite rough. It will wind its way to and through the village. Keep going until you reach the coast. At one point, the road splits in two. It doesn’t matter which side you take. They meet up again at the shore.
The Legend Behind the Name
According to legend, there once was a grandmother and granddaughter who were banished by their family during a famine due to being too much of a burden. The pair threw themselves into the ocean. After magically turning into a turtle and a shark, they set out to find a new home. They traveled for a long time before discovering the shores of Vaitogi. The people of this village were generous and welcomed the two in. The grandmother and granddaughter turned back into their human forms and were fed by the villagers. The residents asked the woman and girl to stay and make their new home in Vaitogi.
The old woman was torn between wanting to stay and being pulled back to the sea. She told the people of the village that she and her granddaughter couldn’t stay on land, but she agreed to make their home in the waters off the coast of Vaitogi. She gave the villagers a song and promised that anytime they sing the song from the rocks, she and her granddaughter will appear. To this day, the people of Vaitogi still sing the song. Many of them report having seen the turtle and the shark when singing the song.
We visited Turtle and Shark twice during our first week on the island. Each time, a different friend took us there. The first time I laid eyes on this place, it took my breath away. I have never seen a place as beautiful as this! I was amazed at the raw power on display with the waves crashing against the rocks. It was unbelievable! Both times we visited, I just stood in awe. I could stand there for hours watching the water churn and roll. I prefer the view from high up on the rocks as opposed to standing on the sandy beach. Boston enjoyed playing in the little pools of water that are created in the crevices of the rocks after the waves crash and spray the tops of them. Turtle and Shark is definitely one of my favorite places in American Samoa.
There are few places in the world that can truly be described as awe-inspiring. Turtle and Shark is one of them. It is unlike any place I’ve ever seen. Even though the waves are constantly crashing on the rocks, there is a sense of peace and tranquility in this place. It is a little slice of heaven on Earth. If only for a few minutes, I highly recommend taking time to visit Turtle and Shark during your visit to American Samoa. You won’t regret it. Happy travels!