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“Great Response to Problem with Van”

Pago Pago Tradewinds Tours - Day Tours
Ranked #9 of 13 things to do in Pago Pago
Attraction details
Reviewed 8 April 2013

We want to send many thanks and kudos to Betty Cavanaugh of Tradewinds Tours on American Samoa. We had made reservations with Betty via email about one month before our visit to American Samoa in February, 2013. Because of the crush of passengers visiting from a cruise ship on the day of our reservation, many vans on the island were called into service. Unfortunately, the van assigned to our tour group was in terrible condition: torn seats, plastic on the windows that obscured the view, and such loud rattles that we could not hear the guide. When we informed Betty of this very disappointing situation, she immediately volunteered to refund half of the cost of our tour. When we returned to our home in the US, our refund was waiting for us.
American Samoa is a lovely volcanic island and the people are warm and friendly. The tour itself was supposed to be for 4 hours but was extended to 6 hours to include many extra sights, not the typical situation. Our guide was knowledgeable and witty and sympathetic to our discomfort in the van. We definitely recommend using Tradewinds Tours because of their ethics in dealing with our disappointment.

11  Thank SouthernOregonLt67
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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8 - 12 of 14 reviews

Reviewed 14 March 2013

The cyclone of 2012 left a swath of destruction, yet the island is rebuilding quickly. It is gorgeous, and worth a visit!

3  Thank Ellis3752
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 November 2012

When booking we thought we are going to get an A/C van but we got an open bus.
The guide was nice young women,very pleasent and the best part of the tour was the village life demonstration.

7  Thank TovaRanana
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 November 2011

Betty Cavanagh, is the owner operator of Pago Pago Tradewinds Tours. I had gotten her name and recommendations from TripAdvisor and booked a 4 hour tour with her, for $50 per person, in Pago Pago. When we arrived we were part of a group of 10 persons whom she had aggregated into a tour.

Most of the tours offered by Princess Cruise Line are with open air busses. Betty's van was air conditioned and could hold 13 people, plus a driver, if you sit 3 people per bench seat with no hip room. Besides the driver we had a lovely Samoan girl as a guide who was quite good and enjoyed doing this kind of work.

Our group included 2 people that were in wheel chairs. Getting in and out of the van for picture stops was impossible for them because the van is built on a truck chassis, and the first step is about 26 inches off the ground, and very narrow, maybe 5 inches deep. Everyone had trouble with that.

The aisle at the end of the seat rows is about 6 inches wide, so you must walk sideways like a crab to get out of the last two rows of bench seats, working your way over the rear wheel well, taking care not getting your foot caught in the floor brackets at the ends. You literally have to extract yourself from the vehicle, which is difficult for folks that are either tall or have mobility issues.

The van is equipped with only 1 sliding door, so everyone except the seat next to the driver has to exit from this single point. Additionally there are no hand holds around the sliding door opening to grab onto, to enter or leave the van safely. It should have had an accessory running board or a step stool should have been provided but was not. Clearly this was not the first trip for the company and one would expect this problem to have been addressed a long time back.

During the correspondence with Betty, I had believed she would be the tour host, but instead we were given a driver and the young Samoan girl to act as tour guide. At almost every stop, the driver would shut off the engine to the van, so in 88 degree temperature, it heated up like a stove inside immediately. At each stop we would re-enter the van and start all over trying to cool it down as we all sweated inside. None of the windows opened. Several of the air conditioning vents in the ceiling were missing the plastic louvers to help direct the flow of cool air, so the passengers in the last seats sweltered, and being tightly packed into the seats made the trip largely uncomfortable. 8 passengers would be a good working number for this size of van.

The tour itself was interesting, but lacking in going to any high elevations for taking panorama views of the island. The itinerary was for 9 stops, but we went through these quite fast, and skipped the last one all together. About 15 minutes for each stop was the maximum allowed.

If I were to visit Pago Pago again I would use one of the open air busses which are more roomy and easier to get in and out of.

48  Thank MrRodgers2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 12 November 2010

With 40 years of experience under her belt, Betty Cavanagh arranged a fantastic 6 hour tour of American Samaoa’s Pago Pago and Tuitila Island. We were picked up dockside in a large, late model, air-conditioned SUV. Our very capable tour guide/driver was the 2008 Miss American Samoa, Netty. She was born and raised near the Rainmaker Mountain, but had spent several years attending school in Hawaii.

Betty planned the following itinerary:

• The U. S. National Park of American Samoa – Betty arranged this stop since neither the cruise line nor any Pago Pago tour operators offered a visit to the only U.S. National Park south of the equator.
• Fatu Ma Futi - Flower Pot Rocks
• The Village – Umu demonstration. Samoan Village Life
• Leone Missionary – First Missionary 1830
• Golf Course – scenic island and water views
• Maliu Mai Beach
• Tauese Museum – Private Museum of the late Governor’s memorabilia
• Tia Seu Lupe – Pigeon Mound

The National Park Service authorized the American Samoa National Park in 1988 as the 50th park (current number = 57) in the NPS. The entire park covers parts of 3 islands within American Samoa - Tutuila, Ofu, and Ta’u Islands. The land is leased from 10 Samoan village families and the national park has built no infrastructure. Park admission is free.

The Samoa Village and the activities were demonstrated by Netty’s family members. The extended family demonstrated how they cook dinner in an outdoor umu; foods they eat – taro, copra (dried coconut meat), pineapple, papaya; dressed – colorful sarongs for women AND men; and how they live off the land (making coconut cream, weaving palm frond baskets and hats in American Samoa. Samples of the food were passed around for us to taste. Samoan design sarongs, striking shell jewelry, carved wooden bowls, and traditional woven placemats and palm hats, fresh coconuts, cold local beer and sodas were offered for sale. We spent quality time meeting and conversing with Netty and her in-laws, cousins, and aunties and uncles. We left as a dozen of Le Truck buses, cruise ship shore excursion tours, pulled into the village and began to discharge people. Betty arranges all the shore excursions for the cruise lines (on this day, HAL and Princess each had a ship docked in Pago Pago harbor) so Netty was aware of their tour schedules, and she made sure we were always ahead of the crowds.

The private van tour included scenic drives around the island. We viewed destruction of the September 2009 tsunami. American Samoa is still recovering from the devastation - 20 lives were lost on Tutuila Island. We watched as residents fished and dug for clams at low tide. American Samoa’s natural beauty is breathtaking and the Samoan people are so kind and friendly.

The highlight of the tour was the stately, former Governor Tauese’s home. In the Samoas, public cemeteries do not exist. Traditionally, individuals are buried in the front yard of the family home. The more elaborate the grave site reflects the status and respect accorded to the deceased. The popular governor’s burial site is made from massive stones of granite and stands over 10 feet high. A permanent gated fale covers and protects the grave site from the elements. It is lovingly adorned with floral arrangements, Holy Scriptures, and photographs of the former governor. His widow personally welcomed us and invited us into her home to view the extensive memorabilia collection of his political career. True to form, as a politician’s wife, she shook our hands, greeted us warmly, offered refreshments, and inquired how far we each had traveled to American Samoa. She proudly spoke of her husband’s accomplishments and long term vision for American Samoa. The group was touched beyond words of her gracious hospitality. Betty Cavanagh had personally arranged the opportunity to tour the home and meet Mrs. Tauese.

Pago Pago, American Samoa port is just like being on the U.S. Mainland. $USD currency is the method of payment. The U.S. Post Office is located across from the docks where cruise passengers mailed heavy flat rate boxes back to the USA. Popular American fast food restaurants are found – in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, south of the equator.

Thank you, Betty Cavanagh of Pago Pago Trade Winds Tours, for arranging a perfect day in Paradise for our group.

68  Thank MauiGlobeTrotters
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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