The string of islands that make up Samoa is shared by two political powers. Samoa is an independent country, while American Samoa, on the eastern end of the archipelago, is a United States territory. The major seaports in this part of the world may be largely commercial in nature, but the water is still a deep cerulean blue and the palm trees still sway.
Port of Apia -- Samoa
Samoa, once known as Western Samoa, is an independent country. Its only major seaport is in Apia, on the northern end of Upolu Island. Dating back to the mid-1800s, this capital city was once the home of Robert Louis Stevenson. The famed author is buried at Mount Vaea, south of the port. Much of the infrastructure was built during World War II when the U.S. Marines were stationed on the island. Additions to the piers were made in 1966 and 2003. The port is governed by the Samoa Ports Authority. Most of the port traffic consists of cargo vessels, oil tankers and the occasional cruise ship.
The Apia Marina is a project of the Samoa Ports Authority that's intended to boost tourism to the island. While the main port is decidedly commercial, this marina welcomes pleasure crafts from around the world. The project is ongoing, with more berths in the works, but already the area is home to restaurants and a few local hotels. The Palolo Deep Marine Reserve, a favorite snorkeling spot, is a short boat ride from the marina or a five-minute walk from the center of the town of Apia.
Port of Pago Pago -- American Samoa
Pago Pago, on the island of Tutuila in American Samoa, dates back to 1878. The port was used as a repair and refueling station for the U.S. Navy. It remained an active naval base until 1951, but now welcomes all types of ships, including commercial freighters and passenger liners. The main export is canned tuna, which once accounted for the bulk of the economy. Today tourism is flourishing. Cruise ship fans love sailing in the waters around Samoa thanks to the large numbers of humpback whales, dolphins and sea turtles they can spy from on deck. If passengers want a closer look, they can book a tour while their ship is in port.
Located on Savai'i Island, the Port of Saleologa is home to the island's passenger ferry terminal. The government-run ferries operate daily between Saleologa and Mulifanua Wharf on Upolu Island. The crossing takes about 90 minutes, with arrivals and departures occurring every two hours. It's a scenic voyage, passing by the palm-fringed islands of Manono and Apolima. Because Savai'i has no airport, the ferry transports goods as well as people to and from the island. Mulifanua Wharf is on the western end of Upolu Island, near the Faleolo International Airport. On this quieter end of the island, palm trees generally outnumber people.