Amouli Beach Camping (and Journaling)

Amouli Beach Camping (and Journaling)

I haven’t gone camping on island since we came back earlier this year, so I was an immediate ‘yes’ when a friend asked if Ian and I wanted to join a small group of friends for camping at Amouli over the long weekend.

The Amouli Beach Fales is a small family-run business far out on the east side of the island, just before the Auasi Harbor, so you get a good view of Aunu’u Island. The accommodations are right by the main road, so that was actually appealing to me this time around — an easy camp site, and one I didn’t have to hike to and lug all our gear to get to. It was just what I was in the mood for… rest and relaxation.

It rained really hard for a few minutes, and once the squall had passed, we pitched our tents and hung out in the main fale, cracked coconuts, poured bevvies, and shared a modest umu spread of fai’ai pilikaki, fai’ai asiasi, ulu, and cooked marlin that was prepared for us. A couple of people brought extra food, and heated it up on the small camp stove. We moved to the beach and gathered by the bonfire, and attempted s’mores but it was short-lived as another squall rolled through. We played cards and after that I was thoroughly exhausted. I hit the sack and slept to the soothing sounds of the rolling waves, and the coconut fronds brushing against the roof of our tent.

The next morning, I woke up after the sun had already risen. Ian was fast asleep and I took advantage of the quiet time to bring out my journal and watercolors. Nothing elaborate, just the scene in front of me… tent screen, Ian’s snorkel and fins propped on the sand, and the empty beach. I played around with the scraps and stickers I brought and snapped an iPhone pic of my pared down travel journal kit.

Everyone was already awake by the time Ian and I finally emerged from our tent. For the rest of the morning, we all sipped on coffees, napped on the beach, went snorkeling… just hanging out until we got hungry again. We put an order in at Sadies by the Sea (thank you Tiara!!!) and drove back to Coconut Point where we tailgated and ate lunch together. It was high noon at this point, so it was extra warm out and our energies drained. Ian and I pulled ourselves away to begin the process of lugging all our stuff back home and unpacking for the week ahead, and then after a much needed shower, I proceeded to nap for the rest of the afternoon.

Beach Camping in American Samoa

Beach Camping in American Samoa

Growing up my whole life on an island, I thought it was a silly thing to pitch a tent and sleep outside for fun when basically my whole life felt like camping… because (1) I can still remember the way-back-when years that I’d fall asleep to loud cricket noises and mosquito bites, had to light candles to find a flashlight in the frequent brown-outs just to navigate my way to the toilet in an outhouse, and had to use a hose for non-optional shivering cold showers;

and (2) it didn’t sound like fun unless it was the annual summer youth camp right on the church lawn with all our friends in those formative years and we would sneak in to tents and use shaving cream, toothpaste, lipstick and whatever else we could find to smear over anyone who fell asleep, friend or not, and giggle about it all night like crazy ninjas in a game of ‘you snooze you lose’… buuuut I digress.

LOL and wow @ the memories.

So anyway, when I went beach camping for the first time in 2014 at the secluded Fogama’a Bay, I had a blast and my mind was forever changed. Now the only type of camping I like is the ones where I can wake up and immediately jump in the water. And here we are 5 years later on my birthday weekend. Ian invited a few friends and told me early in the week that we were going camping and I was stoked! I packed on Thursday night so we could hike down right after work on Friday.

What TO Pack for beach camping:

/ BACKPACK: Deuter’s Groden 30L

/ TENT: Teton Sports’ Mountain Ultra 2 

/ SLEEP STUFF: Therm-a-rest sleeping pad, sock blanket, & pillowcase (stuffed with dirty laundry and used as a pillow) 

/ CLOTHES: Lavalava, 2 bikinis, sleep shirt, comfy shorts, long sleeve denim shirt, Teva Sanborn sandals

/ TOILETRIES: Reef-safe sunblock; Natrapel bug spray; bamboo toothbrush & toothpaste

/  CAMERA: Canon 60D with 24mm f/2.8 in a Neoprene camera sleeve (& Ziploc bag to keep it extra dry)

/ BOOK: Nook Glowlight 3 e-reader, freshly loaded with this month’s book club read

/ FOOD: Takeya 32oz water bottle; canned beans, chicken, & soup, potatoes; chips; cheese; boiled eggs

/ EXTRAS: Sunglasses, iPhone, Gabba Goods waterproof powerbank & lantern, Petzl Pixa1 headlamp, machete, lighter

Fogama’a – National Marine Sanctuary

Fogama`a Crater (also known as Larson’s Cove) was, as its name suggests, once a volcanic crater that is now a beach surrounded by steep cliffs. It is one of six National Marine Sanctuary sites in American Samoa, located by Vaitogi village. It’s not easy to explain precise directions if you aren’t familiar with the landmarks, so basically you drive to Vaitogi towards the cliffs, kindly ask one of the families if you can park on their property, and then hike down for about 15 minutes and through some banana plantations… and then hot tip hold on to your jaws because it will drop as you descend the stairs landing to the beach. On most days, you’ll find yourselves to be the only visitors to the cove, and it will feel like your personal slice of paradise. Definitely bring your snorkeling gear to scope out the rich biodiversity that this National Marine Sanctuary site has to offer. And snacks, lots of snacks, because you’ll work up an appetite on this full day adventure.  





Check the weather before choosing a day to camp.

Pack a light bag with the necessities.

Find a good spot with an ocean view to set up camp.

Collect driftwood and kindling to start fire early.

Pack dinner food wrapped in foil to warm over fire.

Take pictures if you’re a nostalgic person like me.

Clean up around the beach and campsite before you go.




Go without preparing for unexpected weather changes.

Bring anything you’re not willing to carry back up.

Wait until dark to pitch your tent/hammock.

Underestimate the time and effort it takes to make fire.

Forget to plan a meal for breakfast the next morning.

Let taking pictures stop you from enjoying every moment.

Leave any trash behind, even if it isn’t yours.



birthday thoughts: a quick personal Life Update

Wow. I’m 27 years old… Not that age really really matters, but it’s just a little nuts to think that it wasn’t very long ago at all that I was just getting out of high school, got my very first camera, started my first photo blog on Tumblr, and went off to university in the mainland fresh off the boat. Now I’m all done with school (for now, I think), settling in to my third full time job since uni, I have the ultimate best boyfriend in the whole wide world, a pup and cat, and I’m back home on the island I grew up on, but living it in a completely new way. Nuts. But I’m very very happy about it all! My life is 100% incredible, and my heart is full of gratitude every single day… I even have a daily gratitude journal to attest to it. This year is already turning out to be flippin’ sweet! My friends and family have made my birthday week sooo memorable and fun. Like this camping trip. And movie night on a boat. And karaoke at my parents’ house. And a surprise birthday party by the sweetest neighbors and friends. Plus, I have so much to look forward to… a big event that I’m coordinating at work, a work trip to the east coast, a new web project with awesome clients, OMG–and I’m going to Tahiti this summer and we’re chartering a sailboat with Ian’s parents(!!!), and then later this summer… you guys will nottt believe it; I’m going on my first research cruise aboard the EV Nautilus which, if you know, you know that this is so so so exciting! I’m stoked beeeyond, and I also need more sleep! So I’ll leave it at that for now. That was a lot of updates lol. But you have to understand, I’m so giddy just typing this out. This is my life right now… what? Blest.