Ta'u is a rectangular island 10 km long and five km wide. It's only 11 km southeast of Olosega, with a submarine volcano between the two. Eons ago the south side of Ta'u collapsed, leaving dramatic 500-meter-high cliffs that rise directly from the southern sea. Five smaller craters dot the steep northern slopes of Lata Mountain (995 meters), the highest peak in American Samoa.
The entire southeast corner of Ta'u is included in National Park of American Samoa, the largest of the park's three units. Craters punctuate the island's wild, thickly forested interior, known for its steep slopes and gullies. Terrain and bush can change suddenly from easy hiking to difficult, and most of the upland area is inaccessible.
From Ta'u the Tui Manu'a ruled the entire group. In 1925, as a young woman of 24, Margaret Mead researched her book, Coming of Age in Samoa, at Luma village on Ta'u. The present inhabitants of Ta'u live in villages at the northeast and northwest corners of the island. Small-boat harbors are at Luma and Faleasao, with the most sheltered anchorage for yachts at Faleasao. The reef pass is very narrow, and Luma harbor is used mostly by local fishing boats (not recommended for yachts). The airstrip is at Fitiuta in the northeast corner of the island.
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