Swains Island

Swains Island . Swains, also known as Olohega, a very small atoll, is considered to be part of American Samoa. It is actually part of the Tokelau group but is owned by the Jennings family and administered by the United States. The politics are very complicated. The name “Swains Island” was bestowed upon the island by Captain William Hudson, in 1841.

An American, Eli Jennings, joined the copra farmers on Swains Island, with his Samoan wife, in 1856. It is said that he purchased the island from a British Captain Turnbull, for 15 shillings per acre, plus a bottle of gin. So, if Swains was calculated to be 373 acres, the total paid would have been 5595 shillings. That would be about PS23,000 ($US40,000) in today’s values. Plus a bottle of gin.

Eli Jennings jr. managed a flourishing copra plantation for many years. Presently, Swains is inhabited primarily by a few copra workers although there is little or no copra exported from Swains due to a lack of transportation.

Getting to Swains is difficult or nearly impossible. Special arrangements need to be made long in advance and transport is always subject to weather conditions. If you wish to plan a charter to Swains, we suggest you contact Alex Jennings for permission.  An excellent way to get there might be on one of Pago Pago Marine Charters vessels. 

The short movie clip on this page titled “Swains Island – One of the Last Jewels of the Plane” was produced in 2014.  The preamble to the film reads, “Swains Island, an isolated 877-acre coral atoll located 200 miles north of America Samoa, was once known by few people. Now, it has been added to the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa.”

Wikipedia has a great page on Swains

Swains Island