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Breathtaking views, the sound of the ocean crashing on the rocks, and not another soul in sight. These are the places and moments that make travel worth every penny. One of the best of these can be found on the small island of American Samoa. Turtle and Shark is both peaceful and powerful at the same time. And it comes with a fascinating legend. Here is everything you need to know about American Samoa’s Turtle and Shark.
What is Turtle and Shark?
American Samoa, a territory of the United States, is chock full of natural beauty, but most of it is tucked away in hidden spots waiting to be discovered. Turtle and Shark is one of these hidden gems.
For me, it tops the list of most beautiful places on this island. It is simply awe-inspiring. It also is one of those places that demonstrates the sheer power of the ocean. Words and pictures can’t do it justice. To truly grasp its majesty, you must see it with your own eyes.
Turtle and Shark is a small area of shoreline in the village of Vaitogi on the American Samoa’s main island of Tutuila. 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 safe to get in the water here. The waves are large and come crashing in on the rocks pretty forcefully.
This is, however, 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.
How to get to Turtle and Shark
Vaitogi is on the south west side of the island, between the villages of Tafuna and Leone. As you drive west on airport road, you will see a sign marking the turnoff to Turtle and Shark.
This little dirt road that winds its way through to and through the village is quite rough. So, drive slow. 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. There is no sign at the shore, but when the roads join up again, you will be at Turtle and Shark.
The Legend Behind the Name
According to legend, there once was a grandmother and granddaughter who were banished by their family during a famine because they were too much of a burden. So, the pair threw themselves into the ocean, where they turned into a turtle and a shark.
Together, 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.
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 many times during the time we lived in American Samoa. I always love going out there.
The first time I laid eyes on this place, it took my breath away. It instantly became one of my favorite spots in the world. I have never seen a place as beautiful as this!
I am simply amazed at the raw power on display with the waves crashing against the rocks. It is unbelievable! Each time I visit, I just stand 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. My son, on the other hand, enjoys 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 a place in American Samoa that everyone should see at least once.
There are few places in the world that can truly be described as awe-inspiring. Turtle and Shark is definitely 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.
To arrange a personal guide of the island, contact Paula and Michael at South Pacific Watersports.
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