Utulei, American Samoa

Utulei is a village in Maoputasi County in the Eastern District of Tutuila, the main island of American Samoa. Utulei is traditionally a section of Fagatogo village, the legislative capital of American Samoa, and is located on the southwest part of Pago Pago Harbor.[1] The A. P. Lutali Executive Office Building is located here, just next to Feleti Barstow Library and paved roads that wind up to the former cablecar terminal on Solo Hill. The Governor's Mansion sits on Mauga o Alii, overlooking the entrance to Goat's Island as well as the Lt. Governor's residence directly below it. The Lee Auditorium, built in 1962, is also located in Utulei. American Samoa's television studios, known as the Michael J. Kirwan Educational Television Center, and the Rainmaker Hotel (a portion now known as the Sadie's Hotel), are also found in Utulei. Utulei Terminal offers views of Rainmaker Mountain.[2]

Utulei is located in American Samoa
Coordinates: 14°17′13″S 170°40′59″W / 14.28694°S 170.68306°W / -14.28694; -170.68306
Country United States
Territory American Samoa
 • Total0.33 sq mi (0.85 km2)
10 ft (3 m)
 • Total684
 • Density2,100/sq mi (800/km2)
Time zoneUTC−11 (Samoa Time Zone)
ZIP code
Area code(s)+1 684

Some Pago Pago-based hotels are located in Utulei, including Sadies by the Sea.[3] Feleti Barstow Library is the central public library for American Samoa, and is located across Samoana High School.[4][5][6] It has the largest selection of literature in American Samoa.[7] The library was established from 1998-2000 with funds from the Community Development Block Grant, a program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.[citation needed]


Remains of a World War II encampment above Utulei.
Historical population[8]
2010 684
2000 807
1990 930
1980 980
1970 1,074
1960 719
1950 744
1940 488
1930 375
The historic tramway on the World War II Heritage Trail.

Utulei is delineated from Fagatogo by traditional distinction as this is where the High Chief Afoafouvale, or the Le Aloalii, resides. Afoa Moega Lutu is the current title holder since 1990 and lives there at Maota o Tanumaleu.

On November 3, 1920, Governor Warren Terhune committed suicide in Utulei.[9]

The village of Utulei was almost entirely displaced during World War II in favor of military installations. Its population at the time of around 700 was described by a Naval officer as just "a few native houses", and the Utulei residents were told to move away into the hills. Bachelor officer quarters and other military support facilities were built where Utulei village once was located.[10]

In 1946, the vacated two-story marine barracks at Utulei were renovated into the new Samoan Hospital with 224 beds. 2,771 patients were admitted in 1950. Around forty percent of babies born in American Samoa that year were delivered at the Utulei hospital. Nursing needs were filled by graduates from the local nursing school. Students were selected for the Central Medical School to fill physician needs for the islands. Besides 224 beds, the hospital had 27 bassinets, a pharmacy, and a dentistry.[11]:247 and 267 There was a severe shortage of physicians and other health care professionals after the Navy's departure in 1951. As of 1954, there was only one stateside doctor and one dentist, as well as three European doctors. The hospital care, therefore, depended heavily on nurses.[11]:268

The Michael J. Kirwan Educational Television Center was completed in 1964.[12] It is named after Representative Michael J. Kirwan, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.[11]:279–280

During the Flag Day military demonstrations in 1980, a U.S. Navy airplane hit the cables of the Mount ‘Alava Cable Car and crashed into the Rainmaker Hotel. All six naval personnel on board the aircraft died as well as two hotel guests.[13]:167


Surface runoff from Utulei Ridge, the Togotogo Ridge and Matai Mountain flow through Utulei carried by the Vailoa Stream, which discharges on the north side of Pago Pago Yacht Club in Utulei.[14]:24–26

Utulei Beach ParkEdit

Beach at Sadie's by the Sea

Utulei Beach Park is one of few public parks in Pago Pago or on Tutuila Island as a whole. It was built by the U.S. Navy in the 1940s by filling in a marshy area by the Pago Pago Harbor. The park is now home to a grassy area with scattered trees and picnic sites. Two historic naval buildings are found by the park. These were originally constructed in the 1940s and are two of four original structures built here by the Navy. The Pago Pago Yacht Club and the ASG Tourism Office are located here today. The park is used for recreational activities such as volleyball and picnicking. The beach is used for canoe racing, kayaking, and windsurfing. It is a common gathering place for social activities and events.[15]

It created a controversy when the Governor approved a beachfront McDonald's restaurant on Utulei Beach in 2006. Utulei Beach is a designated park area and has received substantial funding from the National Park Service. The governor said he approved the restaurant to boost activity in an area which is practically dead in the evenings.[16] The proposal was denied.

Su’igaula o le Atuvasa, the portion of the beach closest to the former home of the Pago Pago Yacht Club and now occupied by DDW Beach Cafe, was named and designated by former Governor Togiola Tulafono in 2009 as one of the venues for the 10th Festival of Pacific Arts hosted by American Samoa in the summer of 2010.[17]

Su’igaulaoleatuvasa is another public park in Utulei which is also operated by the ASG Parks and Recreation.[18]


Government House is located between Utulei and Fagatogo.
View of Rainmaker Mountain from the Pago Pago Yacht Club in Utulei.

The $10-million A. P. Lutali Executive Office Building was built in 1991 and is located near the Pago Pago Yacht Club. The Feleti Barstow Public Library was constructed in 1998 and is located just behind the Executive Office Building. Beyond the library is a paved road winding up to the former cable-car terminal on Solo Hill. A monument on the hill recalls a 1980 disaster where a U.S. Navy airplane hit the cables and crashed into Rainmaker Hotel, killing eight people. The cableway was one of the world's longest single-span aerial tramways and was constructed in 1965 in order to transport TV technicians to the transmitters atop Mount Alava. In 1992, Hurricane Val put the cableway out of service and it has yet to be repaired. The Utulei terminal is still visited for its views, including Mt. Pioa, or the Rainmaker Mountain.

The 1962 Lee Auditorium is also located in Utulei as well as the Michael J. Kirwan Educational Television Center.[19][13]:166 It was at the television center that the pioneer broadcasting school lessons to elementary and secondary students started during the era of Governor H. Rex Lee. Guided tours of the Michael J. Kirwan TV Studios have been available in the past.[13]:167

The two-story Governor's House is a wooden colonial mansion atop Mauga o Ali'i (the chief's hill) which was constructed in 1903. It served as the home for all naval commanders until the Department of the Interior took control of the place in 1951. Since then, all American Samoa Governors have resided at the house. It is located uphill from a road across the street from the Rainmaker Hotel entrance.[13]:167

Pago Pago Yacht Club, next to the Canoe Club in Utulei, is the center for water sports activities in American Samoa. It offers game fishing, diving, canoeing, sailing, diving, and more. The historic building is a retreat by Pago Pago Harbor used for dining. The yacht club is a member of the International Yacht Racing Union and the American Samoa National Olympic Committee.[20]

Utulei is also home to Tauese PF Sunia Ocean Center, which is the visitor center for the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. It is home to informative exhibits on region's ecosystems and reefs.[21]

Goat Island Cafe is a restaurant at Sadie's by the Sea in Utulei. Their outdoor dining fale overlooks the beach and the Pacific Ocean.[22]

Blunt's PointEdit

Blunt's Point on Matautu Ridge in Gataivai, which overlooks the mouth of Pago Pago Harbor, is made up of two large six-inch naval guns emplaced in 1941. To reach them from Utulei, walk southeast on the main road past the oil tanks, and keep looking on the right-hand-side for a small pump house. This pump house is immediately across the highway from a beach, almost opposite two homes on the bayside of the street. The track up the hill to Matautu Ridge starts behind the pump house. The lower gun is located directly over a big green water tank, and the second gun is situated 200 meters farther up the Matautu Ridge. Concrete stairways lead to both of the guns.[19] The guns are particularly special as one gun emplacement is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, while the second gun has earned recognition as a U.S. National Historic Landmark. They are maintained by the National Park Service.[23] The 3-km World War II Heritage Trail, which goes to Blunt's Point, is the most accessible and the most popular trail on Tutuila Island. The ridge-top trail passes various ancient archeological sites as well as World War II installations erected to fend off a potential Japanese invasion.[24] After leading by numerous historic sites from World War II, the World War II Heritage Trail enters a bird-filled rainforest.[25]



As of the 1990 U.S. Census, 156 houses were located in Utulei village. 23 new residential building permits were issued in 1990-1995, and the village was home to 179 houses as of 1995. As of 2000, there were sixty registered commercial enterprises within the village of Utulei. Many businesses can be found in two- and one-story commercial buildings on the southwest side of the shoreline roadway. Smaller shops are found in predominantly residential communities upland of Samoana High School and the Executive Office Building.[14]:24–23 and 24–25

Diesel fuel arrives monthly to Tutuila Island from Long Beach, California and Honolulu, Hawaii (Marlex and Pacific Resources, Inc.). The fuel is piped from the dock area to an energy storage tank farm operated by Marlex in the Punaoa Valley in 'Utulei.[26]


American Samoa Department of Education operates Samoana High School in Utulei. It was originally named High School of American Samoa.[27] Established in 1946, it was the first high school to be opened in the territory.

The American Samoa Community College (ASCC) was located in the former Fia lloa High School building in Utulei from 1972-1974.[28] It was located in the former navy buildings that once housed the High School of American Samoa. The college had 872 enrolled students in the spring of 1972.[29]

Feleti Barstow Public Library, the central public library for American Samoa, is located in Utulei.

Notable peopleEdit

Peter Tali Coleman (First appointed, First Elected, and longest serving Governor of American Samoa


  1. ^ Google Maps: Utulei, Eastern, American Samoa, accessed 12 March 2018.
  2. ^ Stanley, David (1999). South Pacific Handbook. David Stanley. Pages 441-443. ISBN 9781566911726.
  3. ^ Cruise Travel Vol. 2, No. 1 (July 1980). Lakeside Publishing Co. Page 60. ISSN 0199-5111.
  4. ^ https://www.americansamoa.gov/feleti-barstow-public-library
  5. ^ Talbot, Dorinda and Deanna Swaney (1998). Samoa. Lonely Planet. Page 158. ISBN 9780864425553.
  6. ^ Stanley, David (1993). South Pacific Handbook. David Stanley. Page 367. ISBN 9780918373991.
  7. ^ Goodwin, Bill (2006). Frommer’s South Pacific. Wiley. Page 397. ISBN 9780471769804.
  8. ^ "American Samoa Statistical Yearbook 2016" (PDF). American Samoa Department of Commerce.
  9. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1920/11/06/archives/samoan-governor-commits-suicide-naval-commander-terhune-of.html
  10. ^ Kennedy, Joseph (2009). The Tropical Frontier: America’s South Sea Colony. University of Hawaii Press. Page 201 and 213. ISBN 9780980033151.
  11. ^ a b c Sunia, Fofo I.F. (2009). A History of American Samoa. Amerika Samoa Humanities Council. ISBN 9781573062992.
  12. ^ "Weekly Highlight 11/13/2009 Michael J. Kirwan Educational Television Center, Tutuila Island, Western, American Samoa".
  13. ^ a b c d Swaney, Deanna (1994). Samoa: Western & American Samoa: a Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit. Lonely Planet Publications. ISBN 9780864422255.
  14. ^ a b http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/basch/uhnpscesu/pdfs/sam/Pedersen2000vol2AS.pdf
  15. ^ United States National Park Service (1997). National Park of American Samoa, General Management Plan (GP), Islands of Tutuila, Ta'u, and Ofu: Environmental Impact Statement. Page 39.
  16. ^ http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/162110/american-samoa-governor-backs-beachfront-mcdonalds
  17. ^ http://www.samoanews.com/half-mil-budgeted-improve-su%E2%80%99igaula-o-le-atuvasa-park
  18. ^ http://www.samoanews.com/park-usage-numbers-increase-despite-major-problems-vandalism-and-limited-facilities
  19. ^ a b Stanley, David (2004). Moon Handbooks South Pacific. David Stanley. Page 475. ISBN 9781566914116.
  20. ^ International Business Publications IBP, Inc. (2007). Samoa (American): Doing Business, Investing in Samoa (American) Guide - Strategic Information, Regulations, Contacts. Lulu Press, Inc. Page 135. ISBN 9781433011863.
  21. ^ http://www.lonelyplanet.com/american-samoa/tutuila/attractions/tauese-pf-sunia-ocean-center/a/poi-sig/1530813/362246
  22. ^ Atkinson, Brett (2016). Lonely Planet Rarotonga, Samoa & Tonga. Lonely Planet Publications. Page 154. ISBN 9781786572172.
  23. ^ http://www.samoanews.com/blunts-point-gun-encasements-cleaned
  24. ^ https://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/news/article.cfm?c_id=7&objectid=12158962
  25. ^ Lomax, Becky (2018). Moon USA National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 59 Parks. Moon Travel Guides. ISBN 9781640492790.
  26. ^ http://www.aspower.com/ASPAWEB/Downloads/ASREC/iaea2006report.doc (Page 152)
  27. ^ Sutter, Frederic Koehler (1989). The Samoans: A Global Family. University of Hawaii Press. Page 215. ISBN 9780824812386.
  28. ^ Crocombe, R.G. and Malama Meleisea (1988). Pacific Universities: Achievements, Problems, Prospects. The University of the South Pacific. Page 218. ISBN 9789820200395.
  29. ^ Sunia, Fofo I.F. (2009). A History of American Samoa. Amerika Samoa Humanities Council. Page 307. ISBN 9781573062992.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 14°17′13″S 170°40′59″W / 14.28694°S 170.68306°W / -14.28694; -170.68306