Turtle and Shark - Atlas Obscura

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Turtle and Shark

Vaitogi, American Samoa

Rocky cove with large smashing waves tied to an important Samoan cultural story.  


This small coastline area with dangerous crashing waves is connected to a Samoan legend. The story is about Fonueau, an old blind woman, and her daughter Salofa.

Fonueau and Salofa lived in Western Samoa. One year, there was a great famine, and the pair went many days without food. Eventually, they smelled food cooking in the village, but no one ever brought any to share with the mother and daughter.

Desperate, Fonueau and Salofa left their home and went to the ocean. Together, they jumped off a cliff and into the water, where their bodies were transformed into those of a turtle and a shark. They swam and swam, and eventually arrived at the village of Vaitogi, where they emerged from the water and resumed their human forms. The villagers welcomed Fonueau and Salofa warmly, offering food and clothing. They returned to the ocean but lived just beyond the cliffs, and returned to the village often.

As the story goes, the pair gave the villagers a song that could be used to call them from these rocks.

Know Before You Go

Drive slowly through the roads on the way to the village of Vaitogi.

It is not safe to get in the water. The area features blowholes and slippery rocks.

Can be viewed from the road or a viewing platform (currently under repair).

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