Protocols and customs

Fa’a Samoa is strongly focused on respect and service and Samoans welcome the opportunity to share their heritage with visitors. So bearing this in mind we have listed some local protocols when you visit villages, beaches and scenic sites.

• Samoan’s are very religious and in some villages each day a “sa” or curfew is imposed during the evening prayer curfew (usually between 5.00pm and 6.30pm) depending on the village. Avoiding walking around the village during these curfews which normally last about 30 minutes. Not all villages have prayer curfews, so ask someone before visiting during these times.

• Sunday in American Samoa is a day of worship, spending time with family and rest, so no work is done and people are asked to respect this day. All major shops are closed, but visitors can buy goods from the local villages stores found through the islands. Visitors are welcome to attend church and if you wish to do so please dress appropriately, a blouse and long skirt for the ladies and the men, shirt and trousers.

Behavior and dress

• Wearing skimpy clothing around the village is not allowed, so please dress appropriately so not to offend your hosts and other residents. 

• Nude and topless swimming or sun bathing is totally forbidden throughout American Samoa.

• Beach swimwear – bikini’s etc are appropriate to wear while at the beach, but if you intend to go into the village please cover up by putting on a tee shirt or lavalava (sarong).

• When entering a fale (home) always remove your shoes or slippers at the door.

• Never stand inside a fale when elders are seated

• When sitting in a fale on a mat on the floor, sit crossed legged. If you cannot cross your legs, tuck them to the side and never point you feet at someone. If you cannot cross your legs at all, take a lavalava or mat and cover them while seated on the floor.

• Always ask permission from your hosts or someone before taking photos in a village.

• Tipping is not expected or customary in American Samoa. If you wish to leave a gift for good service, you are most welcome to do so.

• If you are not sure about protocols or what to do, simply ask your host or someone.

Beach access and donations

• If you intended to stop off at a beach, also ask permission to use the beach at a nearby home as these are normally located on customary land. In some cases a small donation or fee of a couple of dollars is charged.