Some think that Samoa and American Samoa are different names for the same country. In fact, they are not. Samoa used to be part of New Zealand and was referred to as Western Samoa. American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States, which lays east of Samoa. Both nations are referred to as the Samoan Islands.
Samoa consists of two islands: Upolu and Savaï'i. The capital city, Apia, is full of attractions and things to do. You should also experience the To-Sua Ocean Trench, which is an amazing picnic site and fun place to swim in. Do not forget about the Piula Cave Pool.
What can you do in American Samoa? There are, of course, too many beaches to be counted, but the ones at Tutuila, Ofu, and Tau are popular. You can also see the coral reefs and volcanoes in American Samoa. You will not be bored.
Being on such majestic islands makes you want to share your travel experiences on social media. Roaming with your provider can be expensive in many cases, which is why getting a local SIM card is recommended.
In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Samoa first, then American Samoa. Let's get started.
About Samoa and American Samoa
Samoa and American Samoa are two different nations referred to as the Samoan Islands.
Samoa, which used to be known as Western Samoa until 1997, consists of Savaï’I and Upolu. The largest cities on Upolu are Apia, Samoa’s capital, Faleolo, Maninoa, and Falepuna. On Savaï’i, the largest cities are A’opo, Asau, Taga, and Sala’ilua.
American Samoa, which is on the East of Samoa, consists of 7 islands and atolls. Tutiola is the largest island of the nation, and Pago Pago is the capital of American Samoa.
Phones numbers in Samoa start with + 685, while the ones in American Samoa start with +1 684. Do note that calling to American Samoa from Samoa will be considered as an international call, and you will be charged international call rates. The same applies vice versa.
You cannot roam for free when using your Samoan SIM card in American Samoa and vice versa. You will be better off buying local SIM cards in both nations if visiting the Samoan Islands.
Therefore, the providers of both Samoa and American Samoa will be discussed separately in this article.
Tip: Looking for cheap flights? Book with AirWander and add stopovers! Not in a hurry yet? Set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog and get notified when ticket prices for your preferred route(s) drop!
Telecom Providers in Samoa
On the western side of the Samoan Island, we have Samoa. Samoa has 3 telecom providers: BlueSky Samoa, Digicel Samoa, and ASTCA. ASTCA uses CMDA, which is not compatible with most phones around the world. As a result, they will not be discussed any further in this article.
What SIM card should you buy when visiting Samoa? If you want to buy a SIM card in Samoa, I would recommend going with BlueSky Samoa for better coverage and speeds. If you are on a budget, then Digicel Samoa should be considered.
Both providers, BlueSky Samoa and Digicel Samoa, have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks. Digicel used to advertise its 3G network as 4G/LTE until they built their real 4G/LTE network in 2016. Digicel still advertises its 3G network, HSPA+, as 4G in several countries they operate in, such as in the Caribbean, Central America, and other places in Oceania.
Like most countries in Oceania, you do not have to show your passport when buying a Samoan SIM card.
With that said, let’s see what BlueSky Samoa and Digicel Samoa have to offer to us.
BlueSky Samoa is the bigger operator in Samoa. Its coverage and speeds are better than Digicel Samoa’s, but BlueSky Samoa is more expensive. BlueSky Samoa is also recommended for those who want to use 4G/LTE on the island.
BlueSky Samoa SIM cards are sold for 10 WST (also known as SAT – $3.80) in BlueSky Samoa stores and from vendors. The cards come with 5 WST in credit. Top-up cards are sold from 1 WST to 100 WST, and you can also top-up online. The following data packs can be added:
- 2 WST: 50 MB for 24 hours
- 5 WST: 200 MB for 3 days
- 10 WST: 520 MB for 7 days
- 20 WST: 1 GB for 7 days
- 50 WST: 3.2 GB for 14 days
- 90 WST: 6.5 GB for 15 days
You can also get BlueSky Samoa’s data-only SIM card called SpeedNet. This SIM card has different package prices depending on whether you have the 2G/3G SIM card or the 4G/LTE one. The following 2G/3G plans can be added to the 2G/3G SIM cards:
- 5 WST: 350 MB for 3 days
- 10 WST: 750 MB for 7 days
- 20 WST: 1.6 GB for 7 days
- 50 WST: 4 GB for 14 days
- 90 WST: 7.2 GB for 30 days
The following BlueSky Samoa 4G/LTE SpeedNet plans can be added:
- 8 WST: 700 MB for 3 da
- 16 WST: 1.5 GB for 7 days
- 33 WST: 3.2 GB for 7 days
- 80 WST: 8 GB for 14 days
- 145 WST: 14.4 GB for 30 days
Digicel Samoa, just Digicel, is the cheaper option on Samoa. Their coverage is not as extensive as BlueSky Samoa’s. However, you should be fine if you are staying in the more populated areas, such as, but not limited to, Tuasivi, Vaiola, and Upolu.
You can buy Digicel SIM cards for 5 WST in Digicel stores and at Faleolo International Airport. Digicel hands out SIM cards for free at times at the airport.
The following Digicel data packs can be added:
- 1 WST: 50 MB for 1 hour
- 2 WST: 40 MB for 24 hours
- 4 WST: 100 MB for 24 hours
- 19 WST: 675 MB for 7 days
- 24 WST: 1 GB for 30 days
- 49 WST: 3 GB for 30 days
- 99 WST: 7 GB for 30 days
Telecom Provider in American Samoa
On the east of Samoa, known as American Samoa, they have 1 telecom provider called BlueSky American Samoa. They have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks throughout American Samoa. Coverage can be found in many townships, so you will be fine when exploring the island.
Just like most other nations in Oceania, you do not have to show your passport when buying a SIM card in American Samoa.
With that said, let’s see what BlueSky American Samoa has to offer to us.
BlueSky American Samoa
BlueSky American Samoa SIM cards are sold in Laufou Center in Nu’uuli for 20 USD (just “$” from now on – they use the US Dollar in American Samoa, unlike in Samoa where they use their own currency). The SIM card comes with 10 USD in credit.
The following BlueSky American Samoa data packs can be bought:
- $2: 400 MB for 24 hours
- $4: 600 MB for 24 hours
- $6: 1 GB for 5 days
- $10: 2 GB for 5 days
- $25: 6 GB for 15 days
- $35: 9 GB for 15 days
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in the Samoas
So far, you have been informed about the SIM card options in the Samoas. However, that is not the only way to be online in the Samoas. I have already briefly mentioned that you can roam with your provider, although it can be expensive in most cases. Besides that, you can use free WIFI connections, mobile hotspots, or international SIM cards.
Roaming in the Samoas with Your Provider
Roaming is a term used in wireless telecommunication that indicates a mobile device is outside the range of its home network and has connected to a different, available cell network. Let’s say your provider is Digicel Vanuatu, then you would be roaming with Digicel Vanuatu in the Samoas.
You may have read horror stories of people coming back from a lovely holiday, only to be confronted with a roaming bill in the thousands. This can still be the case if you do not review your roaming options before going on a holiday. Luckily for you, I have written about the roaming options you have with various providers around the world, which you can read here.
Some operators offer roaming plans. Others allow you to roam for free in the Samoas, while several operators let you use your plan’s allowance for a daily fee. As you can see, roaming does not have to be a horrific experience. If your provider is generous and lets you roam for free in the Samoas, then you do not even need a local SIM card (although I would still recommend doing so, as your connection speed will be much slower as a roamer than someone who is a customer of the network).
No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!
Pay As You Go roaming should be avoided, as that is how travelers get high roaming bills. One provider charges you about 1000 USD per GB in certain destinations, which is insane. If you really want to roam, check whether your provider has attractive roaming plans. Else, you will be better off with buying a local SIM card.
Using Free WIFI connections in the Samoas
This does not require a lot of explanation, but using free WIFI connections is the cheapest way to connect to the internet because you do not have to pay anything. Nothing beats free stuff, right? Well, not so fast.
First, you need to find hotspots in the Samoas. In some countries of cities, you will find so many hotspots that you can try them out one by one and find the one with the fastest speeds. In other places, however, WIFI connections do not seem to exist.
In the case of both Samoas, you can find some hotspots in the city centers, but not many outside of the centers.
Additionally, public WIFI hotspots are unsecure. They are a prime target for hackers to steal your data and use it for illicit purposes. That is I use, and would recommend you to start using, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you connect to a public hotspot. What a VPN does is creating an encrypted tunnel between your device and the hotspot so that your data will stay private. I use NordVPN, and you can get up to 70% off when you get a NordVPN subscription. Get your subscription now or learn more about NordVPN.
Using a Pocket WIFI (Mobile Hotspot) in the Samoas
Pocket WIFI is a portable, battery-powered wireless router that allows you to connect your phone, laptop, or tablet without needing multiple SIM cards for those devices to be connected to the internet. They are compact and lightweight so that you take them along with you whenever you need internet access on the go.
Many companies have created mobile hotspots (just have a quick search on Amazon, for example, you will find many). Skyroam and Vision Global Wireless are reputable pocket WIFI providers I know. You can get a discount if you rent a router through Skyroam by using coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ. Cellular access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day while using a Vision Global device starts at $2 a day. Both services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.
I often recommend mobile hotspots to those who are traveling in groups or with families. They can save groups a lot of money if they are visiting destinations where buying multiple SIM cards would become an expensive endeavor.
I recently wrote an article analyzing the 7 Best Mobile Hotspots for Travelers like yourself, which should be an interesting read if pocket WIFI is something you are considering. I do reviews of individual devices every now and then, so check out my mobile hotspot category to stay up to date.
Getting an International SIM card for Traveling in the Samoas
International SIM cards are, as the name implies, SIM cards for international use. Well, that does not explain anything. Although most providers allow you to use your card abroad, some actually restrict this possibility. An international SIM card lets you go abroad without having to change SIM cards when visiting multiple destinations. They have been made with the traveler in mind.
All of this sounds lovely, but international SIM cards are much more expensive than local SIM cards in the Samoas. Not only that, some offer poor service as well for high rates. Some reputable companies I know are OneSimCard, SimOptions, and Surfroam.
International SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. Some countries in Oceania require you to register before you can use a SIM card, which can be a hassle for some. Additionally, the language barrier may be off-putting to some travelers, which is why an international SIM card can be handy. You order it before you depart and can use it in various destinations.
My recommendation, however, is to get a local SIM card if you are only visiting one destination. If you are visiting multiple ones, an international SIM card could be handy. If you want to learn more about international SIM cards, check out my international SIM card comparison article, where I analyze 10 international SIM card providers so that you do not have to.
The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in the Samoas
Getting a SIM card from BlueSky would do you well when considering a(n) (America) Samoan SIM card. Be sure to explore the roaming options your provider offers you, as they may offer free or cheap roaming bundles.
You could also consider getting an international SIM card or using a portable hotspot. International SIM cards are attractive for those visiting multiple destinations at once or within a year. Portable hotspots will be useful when traveling with multiple people so that not each individual has to get a SIM card but can use the hotspot.
Visiting other countries in Oceania? Check out my Oceanian SIM card buying guide covering the other Oceanian destinations, such as Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna. Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.
What is next?
Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation. Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!
Book Your Flight for the Samoas
It is time to book your flight. Find cheap flights with AirWander so that you can add free or cheap stopovers in destinations you have not considered yet before going to the Samoas. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to the Samoas drop.
Book Your Accommodation for the Samoas
I am a huge fan of Airbnb because it allows me to live with a local or get a local place for myself. Staying in someone’s house or apartment feels much different than being in a ho(s)tel, especially in the Samoas. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a(n) (America) Samoan hotel.
Get Your Travel Insurance for the Samoas
You will regret not having travel insurance once you actually need it and “forgot” to get it. Nowadays, travel insurance is cheap and comprehensive unlike back in the days. World Nomads is by far the best travel insurance for adventurous travelers like yourself. You can even get insured WHILE already traveling in the Samoas, which is not something many insurance companies allow you to do.
Get a Travel Debit Card
Travel Cheques are outdated. Paying with your credit card or debit card can be expensive because of all the exchange commissions banks charge you. TransferWise allows you to convert your main currency to the local currency for a small fee (up to 8 times less than with your bank!) Getting a Transferwise Borderless account is FREE, so you will get an instant return on your investment.
Enjoy your trip!