What’s in a name? A beach by any other name would still be just as fun. Don’t get too caught up on the name of the beach in Avaio, American Samoa.
The name may be misleading, but the beach is seriously great!
Why is the name so ridiculous?
You would expect a beach with that name to cost $2, right? It actually costs $5 per person. It’s caused frustration to some beach-goers, but mostly just laughs, as anyone who has been around the island for more than a few days knows to expect the different price.
It seems that the private beach used to cost $2, but with the increase of additional amenities, the price increased, as well.
So What Does the New Two Dollar Beach Have to Offer?
Two-Dollar Beach is a clean, white-sand beach, kept clear of litter and debris. There is a sandbar that leads out to Lion’s Head, a rocky island, fun for kids to climb around. We’ve heard there’s a “trail” to the top of the island, where we’ve seen local teens, but we didn’t go check it out. Also, on the island is a small beach bar and deck with tables and chairs.
On either side of the sandbar, are calm, shallow waters, roped-off and perfect for kids to splash around and swim in. A little too shallow for adults to do much in, but just on the other side of the rope barriers is a wonderland of sea-life, available for snorkelers of all experience.
Right on the beach, there are two fales (raised huts without walls), that are free for use.
And just a few steps above the beach are covered tables of varying sizes.
And another beach bar, with bathroom and shower facilities.
The parking is limited though, just parking along the road, enough for probably 8-12 vehicles. So, it would be wise to get here early, carpool if you’re meeting others, or take a bus or taxi.
Our Two Dollar Beach Experience
We let the kids choose the beach on the Saturday after their birthdays. Last weekend was Hadley’s turn (about a month late, oops). Having visited most of the other beaches on the island, she chose Two Dollar Beach for her special day. We had heard it’s a nice beach and if you pack plenty of food and drinks, it can be worth the money.
Nate was highly skeptical though. What could this beach have to offer that would really make it worth the price?
What we found was a beach that was clean of the trash and debris that you find on other beaches. Plus, the amenities that the other beaches lack- food, drinks, and bathrooms. We also found 30-40 people, spread around the beach, water, deck, and lawn (this is crowded by AmSam standards!).
Even with the crowds of people (haha), we found a nice spot under the shade of the coconut trees, with plenty of room to set up, ready to enjoy our day.
The kids took off, happy to explore this new beach. They climbed on the rocks, swam in the shallow water, and enjoyed having other kids to play with.
After a while, Nate and I found ourselves looking at the back of someone’s head. A group came back to their towels after snorkeling. Instead of being bothered, we struck up a conversation with them. The conversation lasted most of the rest of the afternoon. By the end, we had exchanged contact info and set up a date for Nate to take them spearfishing.
We’re so used to having a beach all to ourselves that we almost forgot how much fun it can be to share it with strangers! The kids had plenty of new friends to stay entertained and I didn’t pick up my book even once.
Is Two Dollar Beach Worth $5?
When compared with other beaches around the world, this might sound reasonable. On the other hand, you can drive another 2 minutes down the road and have almost the same experience for free.
I was the only one of our group to use the bathroom, but it was a nice break from the alternative. Although we brought our own drinks, we saw many people taking advantage of the drinks at the bar. The roped off section of water helped this mom and dad have a little more peace of mind; we were able to let the boys play more independently, just making sure they stayed within the designated area.
The fales looked inviting, though I called two days before and they were already reserved. The sand was beautiful and mostly clean, but stray dogs were allowed to wander through and left rank land mines for the unsuspecting beach goer to happen upon.
So, was it worth it?
Yes. For Hadley’s special birthday beach day, we were glad we spent the money to try this new beach.
We will continue to enjoy the island’s free beaches most weekends. But maybe another one of the kids will request Two Dollar Beach for another birthday beach day and we will be happy to go again, knowing what to expect, maybe calling at least a week in advance to reserve a fale.
If you come to American Samoa and want to enjoy a beach which offers some of the comforts of civilization, you should give it a try. Just start heading east and keep going until you see the Two Dollar Beach sign. $5 says you won’t be disappointed.